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25 January 2007

When You Assume...

Impera and Trixie love to read Parents magazine. They borrow it from the library, and sometimes they’ll splurge and buy old copies of the magazine from the library for 25 cents each. Each month, Parents has articles on topics of interest to parents of children of all ages, from newborn to pre-teen. It also has a “Just for You” section, with makeup, health, and well-being articles for the moms.

Why do they read this magazine, you wonder? Well, All knowledge is worth having, as a character in a novel I’m reading is wont to say. I think Impera reads it for that reason. To make sure we're doing what we ought to (I had been negligent in scheduling 6-month dental check-ups when Impera was in 1st grade, and she called me on it after reading a Parents). And, just to know. Plus, let’s admit it, reading colorful magazines can be fun. Even an article on healthy snack foods for children has great pictures devised by creative art departments. Eye candy.

Trixie, on the other hand, reads it for the relationship articles. She was worried that the Consort and I were headed for divorce a few months ago because we didn’t dance together on a weekly basis, as Parents suggested. Now, the Consort is many things, but a salsa dancer, he is not. He is of true Germanic ancestry when it comes to rhythm and dance. We tried to explain to her that just because we didn’t get jiggy with it in the living room every week didn’t mean our relationship was on the verge of a breakdown.

The “Just for You” section is a treasure trove of PG information on intimacy, too (the audience they’re addressing is made up for the most part parents of the under-one set, when intimacy issues can be Intimacy Issues). And she absorbs every word. This information, combined with a naturally inquisitive child who is at that age where sex is a subject at once confusing and alluring, means in the past few weeks we’ve been getting many questions about how parts fit together, how does it work, how does it feel, … things like that. Before you ask why they aren’t covering this in school, let me say that in our school district, Sex Ed is scheduled for the spring in elementary school. In 4th grade, you learn how your body works. In 5th grade, you learn how the other half lives.* They will cover it, it just isn’t spring yet, you see.

The other day, Trixie comes over to me while I’m preparing dinner and asks, “Mom, what’s KY jelly?” Aha, she’s noticed the ads in the magazine, of course! I launch into an explanation of lubrication, how sometimes—for example, after childbirth and during nursing—our bodies don’t make enough natural lubrication. As I measure the herbs to add to the pot, I segue into a tangent on how women are advised not to have sexual intercourse for six weeks after childbirth, asking her to think about the physical stress of childbirth and how our bodies need a time of rest and healing. As I stir the bubbling soup, I discuss the delicacy of the tissues involved, and how irritation can quickly become inflammation and even yeast infection.

“Does that make sense?” I ask.

“Well, in the Rabbit Handbook, there’s a list of items you should have in your first aid kit for your bunny, and one of the things was KY jelly and a thermometer.”


That’s probably for taking the rabbit’s temperature rectally…

We always just used petroleum jelly when you and Impera were babies…

Never mind.

*In middle school, they teach the boys and girls together, and they talk about birth control, STDs, and show movies with titles like “Puberty: The Great Adventure” (yep, the kids like that movie about as much as you’d think they would, with a title like that!).