Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Hey kids! It's time to read the Bible!"

"Mommy how old were you the first time you DID sex?" my precocious seven-year-old asked. I burst out laughing and before I could answer, my eldest stepped in and said, "Oh! I know - just do the math! I'm nine so...counting pregnancy - it was about ten years ago."

This made me laugh even harder. I managed to side-step the question but I did explain that not everyone has sex in order to make a baby. That answer prompted this question: "So, how long do you have to DO sex for? Like just a few minutes? How do you know when its done?"

Oh brother. I really backed myself into a corner here. Sex-ed and The Bible. I'll get to that in a moment. I tried to describe to them - without getting too graphic - that it's not a painful chore to "do sex" and that it needn't be over-with in a matter of minutes either. This mystified them. The questions came up because we were reading our "Isn't It Amazing" book which explains how babies are made and covers the mechanics of sex in the process. I want my girls to know what happens on a clinical level but discussing the emotional components to sex is definitely trickier. My friend said to me later, "Why didn't you say - it hurts a LOT - like getting stabbed with a knife - until you're 21." He thought I ought to be lying to them in order not to foster a premature curiosity.

But my whole agenda is 'knowledge is power' and sex-ed, along with menstruation, goes in that category. But where does The Bible come in?? you may wonder.

Recently, I took an idea from a respected home-schooler. Her feeling was that it was important to read The Bible in a secular and educational way. After all, there are countless stories and references in The Bible that have spilled forth into world culture for centuries. When you don't KNOW where these references originate it creates a gap in your education and certainly your literary knowledge. I prefaced our reading (an age-appropriate illustrated Old Testament hard cover) by saying - these stories are very, very old; but you'll see as we read them there are all sorts of references in today's stories, our language and even movies. No sooner had we zipped through Creation when we were upon the case of Cain and Abel. I didn't remember this part (as though I even cracked a bible open other than in a motel room night table) but after Cain slays Abel, God marked Cain with a scar or stain on his forehead. I looked at the girls who were wide-eyed at the violence of that tale. "Who ELSE has a permanent mark on his forehead that we know of?"

"Harry Potter," they gasped.

"That's right; so you see, J.K. Rowling did her homework and knew what stories she could allude to from The Bible itself."

The following day Bebe was reading about the Tower of Babel by herself - before we even got to our nightly ritual. "Oh, I get it," she said, "When people say, 'Stop babbling and speak English' it goes back to this story about Babel and everyone speaking in different languages!"


Doing nightly bible reading makes me feel a bit evangelical or Mormon-y. So to balance out the religious side of things I spice it up with the sex-ed for 7 - 10-year-olds book. That somehow makes the whole thing line up with MY particular belief system - as oddly subversive as it sounds.