Tooth or dare
When R. was about 12 or 13, he took a pretty in-depth sexuality education class (Our Whole Lives), which is another thing that I have to say, Unitarians do right. The point is to give kids the opportunity to get solid technical information, but also, an opportunity to explore the emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality, to promote healthy attitudes and decisions.
At any rate, he became way more comfortable with the topic than I was at his age, and would come home with things like, “Mom, did you know that there are 6 to 10 million sperm per ejaculation?” Which is a really good point that someone noted recently – we all won that race, fastest of 10 million. Something to be proud of, no matter what happens next.
During this time period, we were home one afternoon. He’d taken a shower and emptied the contents of his pocket onto the counter in the bathroom, then left a big mess and went off to do something else. Since the Something Else was homework, I decided to let him be and clean up the mess myself. Amidst the other stuff, I found a mylar envelope about the size of a large postage stamp or small tea bag with a picture of a ram on it.
They were doing stuff in this class like practicing putting condoms on bananas, not because Unitarians believe kids that young need that skill yet, but they will eventually, and why not teach it while they’re young enough to still be willing to learn?
But I don’t think he needed to be carrying condoms around in his pocket at that point in his life, so I took the envelope out to where he was working.
“Is this yours, R?” I was prepared to have a chat about how you don’t wanna be That Guy who’s carrying a condom around in middle school, because it’s just kind of tacky and show-offy.
“No, that’s not mine. That’s M’s.”
M, at the time, was about 15, and at that very moment had a boy over visiting. It struck me as a whole different thing. If she were carrying condoms around, it wouldn’t be due to being a middle school punk, but because she actually needed them.
I must have looked a little stricken, because R. looked surprised.
“Mom, what’s the big deal?”
“What, exactly, do you think is in that envelope?”
“Uh, a condom?”
“Jeez mom. It’s the rubber bands for braces.”
“Oh. That’s nice.” Does it seem odd to decorate the rubber band envelope with a black and white graphic of a stylized ram, or is it just me?
R. gives me that head shaking disgusted look. “Mom, I just think it’s really, really sad that you don’t know the difference between sex and orthodontia at your age.”