Don’t tell mum!

  • By Alison
  • 13 February, 2011
  • Comments Off on Don’t tell mum!


When I was at university, I made sure I learned everything I could about social interaction and cultures. I’m not talking about my course – I’m talking about what you do when you’re not studying. I excelled in this regard.

I also had some quite adept mentors on my side. 

My mother used to get a pained expression on her face when I told her about nights out that I had when I was at uni. With her lips pressed together like a pinched nerve, she’d warn me that the longer I stayed out, the more chance there was that something would happen.

I used to think… GREAT! I’d love something to happen.

What she meant of course, was the longer I stayed out, the more chance there was that I’d do something I’d regret, but she under estimated my sense of regret. I have a feeling that her main fear revolved around sex. She was scared that I would HAVE it. She didn’t want me to have it, and even more urgently – she didn’t want to know if I did. 

She once said that she’d rather I didn’t tell her what I was doing. But she failed to realise that despite how much I was telling her about my life, I was already editing the stories greatly to get them down to “ok for mum” status. I so I thought.

I’d tell my mother about the night that six of us went out to “Fanny’s” on the foreshore and got back to the house I shared with two other girls very late and started cooking. But I didn’t tell my mother that the reason we were making vegetable mash and eating it at 2am was because we were so stoned we had serious munchies. 

I definitely didn’t tell her about the time when my friend Katarina’s neighbour dropped in looking for some orange juice to add to the meths he was planning to drink.

I totally omitted the time I was sleeping on the sofa and Nina had to take her boyfriend to hospital in agony because he had a twisted testicle (apparently it’s not as hilarious as it sounded!)

I also didn’t mention the 7 foot tall 15 year old I was going out clubbing with (I was 18). It just didn’t seem to pass the “ok for mum” bench mark. 

Ignorance is a state in which many people like to live, and sometimes it’s just easier to go along with it. But as a parent of two girls I wonder how I will feel when they both go off to university 200km away and tell me about their nights out.

Especially when I know that they are probably editing out the bits that they think I don’t need to know!

I went to sex education in year 6 with my parents. I learnt the rest in “Personal Development” classes in high school. My mother told me that you can’t use tampons until after you’ve had a baby, and that you must not have sex before marriage. I disproved the former after about 6 attempts when I got my second ever period.

My oldest daughter is now in year 4, and she sknows that babies grow in the mummy’s tummy, and come out their middle bottom. She knows that having a baby is a choice, and there needs to be a daddy as well. What she doesn’t know yet is just how that whole thing comes about.

“Let me tell you about the horizontal tango, my darling child…” I can’t see myself starting this conversation!

Recently we went to the natural history museum as part of a field trip and spent a lot of time in the body section, learning about how muscles and bones work. The entry way starts with the growth in the womb, and most of the children squealed in quasi disgust.

And then they came face to face with a cut away illustration of a man and a woman having sex. The torso’s touching, embracing, and the penis in the vagina – the moment of conception. It was cut right down the centre of the beast with two backs. It took up an entire wall as we walked into the next room.

As we walked past it, I gave the teacher a look of horror – was I about to have to explain the joy of sex to seven 9 year olds? But with one glance they simply walked straight past it and ran into the next section where the elements on the wall displays were clearly more recognisable to them. I heaved a sigh of relief. It was too alien. They just didn’t see what the picture was showing them.

I have a feeling that year 5 is the point at which the school will introduce sex education and part of me doesn’t want my daughter to start thinking about that. I don’t want her to ask me what a condom is, or what abortion is. These are things I think she’s better off being ignorant about.

And yet – I can’t afford to think that for very long. I have to equip her with the tools she needs to manage the world she lives in, and that includes the knowledge of things I don’t want her to do. 

Like my mother before me – I have to manage that difficult task of giving knowledge and guidance. Setting down expectations and rules and then allowing my children to apply them to their own lives in a their own way.

In many ways, my girls are quite naive in comparison to their peers. Some of this is down to me, and some is down to their own nature. I am fine with that – childhood is for experiencing as a child, not a micro adult. That doesn’t mean I curtail their freedom – I am happy for them to walk to school on their own, but not to watch sexy music videos or watch violent television shows.

My girls like some pop music, but they have no idea that bands put out music videos to go with their songs.

But then again, neither does my mother, and she’s 70. Maybe it really is possible for me to keep my babies in the dark for the rest of their lives! 

photo: Ben30

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