Two words: BOR-RING! I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that this book was slow to start. Well, slow to start and even slower to end! I was left with a million unanswered questions and no real tie to any of the characters.
The title would lead you to believe that the story was about the teacher - wrong. While the teacher has a part in the story it more or less follows Tim, the born again Christian who coaches the teacher's daughter in soccer and "forces" her to pray. Ugh!
Ah well, nothing lost is nothing gained, right? Moving on to The Wedding as recommended by Nicki. I have always loved Nicholas Sparks' books so I am looking forward to this one. If you haven't read The Notebook it is too good to pass us. And if you have seen the movie, that doesn't count.
Back to the Abstinence Teacher though. As the title suggests, part of the story deals with a teacher teaching abstinence. It leads me into wondering what I do and do not want my children learning in school.
Of course, my little ones are still very young, abstinence isn't something I have to worry about quite yet. Although, kids are growing up quicker and quicker now. I know that it will be something I have to deal with soon enough.
We had a typical Health class in school. We were taught most everything. It was there that I saw my first condom and learned how to put it on a broomstick. I watched a movie that showed conception - from beginning to end. We learned about STDs and how to recognize and prevent them. And we learned abstinence and celibacy. I don't know that anything I learned in that class (full of people I didn't really associate with and pretty embarrassing the whole time) encouraged or discouraged me in one way or the other. I think this is what I want my kids to learn. Extremes are never a good thing. You can't teach all sex and you can't teach all abstinence - you need to meet in the middle.
My parents tell me that they had the "birds and the bees" talk with me and I have no reason to disbelieve them except that I have absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever. I guess it was that mortifying. I must have blocked out every second of it (not the only kid who did, my younger brother Alex has no recollection either).
My mother, at least, was very open about sexuality. Well, open enough. We knew were never taught that sex was bad or dirty. However, abstinence was never taught either. Not that it would have changed this much had it been (or at least I don't believe it would have). And I'm not sure the word masturbation was ever discussed in my household. And I know that there was more than once I had to go to an older friend to find out what certain words meant (condom, virgin, etc).
During my first "serious" relationship my parents were going through their divorce. I found a legal pad on my father's desk on day with a list of things that he needed to talk to my mother about. One of those things was "talk to Erica about birth control". Little did they know that I didn't need to be talked to about it, I had already taken care of it on my own - not that it mattered much, that boy ended up being gay and, although he didn't reveal that until we were grown up, everything leading up to his coming out should have been a clue.
Nonetheless, my mother had that talk with me too. This one, much to my dismay, I remember. I remember feeling embarrassed and lying, through my teeth, telling her it wasn't necessary. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had a friend drive me to the local clinic over a month earlier to get the prescription. She had that same talk with me a little later in my life, when I was pregnant with Zachary...too late...not that she knew that either.
Once upon a time, Zachary asked me where babies came from. He was much younger, 4 or 5 and I didn't feel the need to get into all the nitty gritty. So, I told him that when a Mommy and Daddy loved each other very much their love created a baby. That satisfied him for the moment...I am bracing myself for the next time it comes up.
Recently Zachary giggled at the word sex. I don't know where he heard it (television I'm sure). I asked him what was so funny. I got the typical 7 year old boy answer: shoulder shrug, and a red faced "I don't know". So I asked him what he thought sex was and after a lot of prying I got "kissing and stuff". Good enough, I thought, but I wondered where he would get that. Television, I'm sure, again.
When Allyson was about 14 we talked about sex. Again at 15 and 16 and 17. It was always a little embarrassing for both of us, but it was important, so I kept doing it. I'm not sure how much of a difference it made since at 18 she is now a Mommy herself...
Abstinence is a funny thing. While I think that most parents want their children to be abstinent for their teenager years, how many of us believe it to be true? How many of us were abstinent through our teenage years?
I guess I would much rather that my children know the truth of the matter. Sex happens. Sex should be reserved for two people who love each other and when that happens it is a beautiful thing. Sex can lead to many things both scary and wonderful. Of course, STDs and pregnancy are always issues - not to mention the emotional havoc it can create with both parties.
I want my kids to wait. I want them to wait until they are old enough to accept the responsibilities that sex creates and to wait until they are in love. This is what my parents asked of me. Then I think: how does a child know these things? How does anyone know these things?
I remember talking to my guidance counselor about sex, saying I was thinking about it. He told me I shouldn't have sex until I could accept all the responsibilities. I told him that I could, except I wasn't ready to be a parent. He told me then I wasn't really ready. He was right.
So what's a parent to do? I can't lock them up until they are 30...or can I? I can't follow them on every date they have until they are married...although I believe that does happen in some cultures. I can't decide when they will get married (and to whom) and not allow any "courting" until then (although it seems to work well for some Muslims). I guess I just teach them what I believe, keep it honest and encourage them to "save themselves" for the right person.
Again with the handbook...where is mine? I think they forgot it when I took them from the hospital.
I guess it comes down to faith, and not the religious kind of faith. Faith that my children are going to make the right decisions. Faith that I have done a good job in raising them. Faith that they have a conscience and that they will follow it into most situations. Faith that they have a God of their own and that their God will watch over them.
No matter what "mistakes" I have made in my lifetime (sexual or otherwise) they have made me who I am today. My children will make mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes in raising them. All I can do is my best and pray for the rest to iron itself out.
Oy, it gets scarier everyday!