Follow along as Ottawa-based sports reporter Ian Mendes writes about the joys of raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with wife, Sonia.
Last week, our oldest daughter came home with a note from her grade four class saying they would be expanding their "Family Life" studies in school.
At the start of the year Elissa had a simple questionnaire for us to finish, asking us about roles and responsibilities within our family. As part of the "Family Life" class, she even had to interview a family member and ask them questions about what we did on a daily basis inside the house.
It was really sweet and innocent—and since my wife wasn’t around for the interview, I actually lied and said that I did most of the laundry in the house. (Maybe that’s why she got a C+ on the assignment.)
So, when this latest newsletter about "Family Life" came back we weren’t overly concerned about what the next topic would be in the class.
That is until we saw two words that jumped off the page: “Sexual intercourse.”
How did we go from "My daddy takes out the trash every Tuesday night" to "An introduction to sexual intercourse" in the span of a couple of months? That seems like a fairly steep learning curve to me.
The words on that newsletter cut us deeply. It’s almost like receiving a formal letter announcing the end of childhood for your daughter.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Mendes,
We regret to inform you that Elissa is becoming a preteen. Sorry it had to be this way. We thought about leaving one of those automated voicemails, but the secretary felt awkward about recording the message.
P.S. You may want to activate the parental controls on your cable system.
Sincerely, The School Board
This is a complete game-changer for us on the homefront. Our youngest daughter still plays with Barbie dolls and I don’t want Elissa walking over and commenting that Ken is missing a very important piece for him to engage in sexual intercourse.
The newsletter went on to explain that “the grade four teacher book has a simple explanation of sexual intercourse.” There is part of me that wants to know what this “simple explanation” is all about. Are there puppets involved? Cartoon sketches? And what constitutes a “simple explanation”?
And does this mean that I have to start referring to body parts by their anatomically correct names? It’s not as funny saying, “It’s OK, girls. Daddy just needs to walk this off because the baseball hit him in the penis and scrotum.”
The good news is that I have no recollection of sex ed class from when I was a kid, so clearly this stuff doesn’t scar you for life—even if it does involve puppets. I think we had a couple of gym classes cancelled in grade five, which angered me because I had to learn about amniotic fluid instead of playing dodgeball.
We also found out that the topic of puberty is going to be discussed next year—although we are encouraged to talk to our daughter ahead of time about the first signs of development. My only experience with this comes from a Who’s The Boss? episode from the mid-1980s where Tony sheepishly had to buy Sam her first training bra. I think he also ended up buying her a baseball glove and everything worked itself out in 22 minutes.
So, if a fictional former baseball star-turned-housekeeper can do this, surely I can too, right?