I was driving the Sprogs to school last week when the eight-year-old sighed from the backseat: “All the books I’m reading are full of boys wanting sex.”
Not being particularly brave when it comes to birds, bees and my daughters, I wasn’t quite sure how to reply. After a strangled pause, I said: “You mean kissing?”
“No …” the eight-year-old replied in a tone that suggested she was simultaneously rolling her eyes.
The eight-year-old and I have never discussed sex. Ever. The six-year-old stayed silent during the exchange and didn’t even offer a “what’s sex?” remark. I’m not sure whether to be worried or relieved about this. Sprog 2 recently scoffed to Sprog 1 that “the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist” and caused tears, so still waters may run very deep.
(Speaking of the Tooth Fairy, she forgot to come on Saturday night and collect Sprog 1′s molar because the So Not Neighbourly neighbours were partying AGAIN and gave her a bad case of the shites, so she called the cops but they said they were too busy to sort it out, so the Tooth Fairy took a sleeping tablet and snored through the crack of dawn, when she should have been up collecting teeny-tiny flowers for the “fairy bouquet” Sprog 1 was expecting to come with her $2 coin because that’s what Sprog 2 got last time … How freaky to be discussing the tooth fairy’s transgressions and sex with the same child? I can’t help wondering if she’s tormenting me with the whole boo-hoo-the-tooth-fairy-didn’t-come business and storing it up for a big giggle with her friends at school today. Aren’t sex and the Tooth Fairy mutually exclusive concepts?)
I am waiting for an appropriate moment to discuss what exactly Sprog 1 means by “sex”.
In the meantime I have been secretly perusing her reading material, possibly something I should have been doing earlier. But I blithely assumed anything in the under-12s section of the library would be appropriate. Despite my harrowing experience with the Burnt book.
The first book I examine was called S.C.U.M, by that guy who writes the funny advice column in The Good Weekend, Danny Katz. The back cover said this: “It’s just an ordinary day for Tom Zurbo-Goldblatt. The possibility of romance with his dream girl. The chance to pit his strength against the insane. Powerful friendships to forge. Wrongs to right. The ultimate test of survival against the badass ninjas of stupidity of death. And his first-ever sighting of a girl pube.”
OK, I don’t even have to open that one to know it’s PROBABLY NOT SUITABLE.
Moving right along. Sprog 1 reckons Morris Gleiztman and Paul Jennings are also talking about sex in their books. This seems highly unlikely, but I investigated.
The back cover of the Paul Jennings book, How Headley Hopkins did a dare …, seemed inocuous enough … sorry, I wrote that before checking. After actually reading it, it didn’t sound inocuous at all. “They say there is something awful in the sand dunes” are the exact words. Right. So I had a flick through the book and found this: “Staring at drawings of naked flesh is wicked. It makes me feel good in a bad way. Every time I do it, I say I will never do it again. But I always do. It is like being starving hungry and walking past a baker’s shop. I can’t think about anything else. I try and try and try but the thoughts about naked ladies just keep coming like the smell of fresh cakes.”
PROBABLY NOT SUITABLE either.
I’ve been ferreting in Sprog 1′s room for the offending Morris Gleiztman book, but I can’t find it because her room is such a tip. So I’m not sure what he’s got to say on the sex front.
No matter, I’m rattled enough by the first two “kids” books.
I’m the last person to suggest burning books or anything stupid like that. Book burners make my eyes rattle with their narrow-minded idiocy. But I’m wondering if there’s some other way to alert parents to potentially tricky content. Should there be little stickers on books in the under-12s section, you know, a coded “contains sexual references”? Of course, the stickers couldn’t actually say there were sexual references in books or they’d be ripped to shreds by pre-pubescent teen boys fighting with each other to borrow them. But I suppose they’d eventually figure it out anyway. Hmmmmm.
And when is the right time for them to read that stuff anyway? I have no idea. But eight seems a bit young.
Since Sprog 1 has been bandying the “sex” word about so casually, I really need to discuss her knowledge of the subject and casually enquire whether she has any questions. Gulp.
In the meantime, I’m popping out to search for teeny tiny flowers for her Tooth Fairy bouquet.
Such is life.