Marlene and I probably have spent more time thinking about our childhood sex education and adolescent experiences than all our readers combined. One of the ways to get kids to open up and trust us with important topics is to tell stories about embarrassing/silly things we did when we were kids. They love hearing that their “perfect” parents, weren’t always so perfect, especially as they enter puberty and become more self-conscious. I’m going to share stories from my adolescence that my kid loves to hear, in hopes it will trigger some of your own funny stories to share with your kids.
– My friend was 2 years younger than me but managed to get her first kiss before I did. I was pretty jealous so we tried to trick this neighbor boy into kissing me the next day, by convincing him to play “2 minutes in the closet”. He caught onto our tricks and escaped and I waited until 16 to get my first kiss.
– My Dad had a brilliant parenting idea. In middle school, he offered us $5./week. We could buy our lunch every day but we’d have to kick in some of our own money, or we could make our lunch every day and pocket the $5. Smart, right? Unfortunately, I managed to be both cheap and lazy and learned how to live on $5./week by eating only a donut and chocolate milk everyday for 2 years! By consuming so few, poor quality calories during such important years, it’s no wonder I was the last of my friends to get my period.
– There was a Tampax ad in my Seventeen magazine with an address at the bottom where you could write in and ask Tampax questions. My friends and I thought this sounded like a fun idea so we started making up all kinds of crazy questions. I wish I still had them because all I remember is “I’d like to donate blood but I’m scared of needles, can I donate my menstrual blood?” We really were wondering things like “What if I never get my period?” (I was probably 12-13) but we were trying to be sneaky by exaggerating “I’m 21 and I’ve never had my period, is that normal?” It took about two months but Tampax did write back and answered all our crazy questions as though they were real. I give them credit for looking past our adolescent silliness and taking us seriously.
– It was my first week in 7th grade and in the locker room at P.E., I noticed that I was the only one wearing a tank top undershirt, instead of a bra. Even though I didn’t need one, I worked up the nerve to ask my Mom if I could start wearing a bra. She told me I could ask my older sister for her hand-me-downs. I put on my new training bra, so proud and excited, and ran across the street to Marlene’s house. I stood there on her porch grinning, waiting for her notice, not saying anything in particular, just smiling. She didn’t notice so finally I whispered my secret to her, she congratulated me and I skipped home. I was happy, satisfied and UNCOMFORTABLE. I took that thing off as soon as I could, but sported it proudly in the locker room on Monday.
– Somehow my friends and I got our hands on a diaphragm in it’s case. It was perplexing. We studied it like any good scientist would but couldn’t figure out how it worked. We thought it was a “rubber” (condom) and couldn’t figure out how it stayed on the penis without falling off.
– Marlene and I got our sex education from a variety of places (Judy Blume, Three’s Company, Dr. Ruth) but none were as enlightening as the bathroom walls on the campus of Stanford University. While Marlene’s Mom finished her PhD in the Education Dept. at Stanford, we went from stall to stall in the bathroom and got a different kind of education. We learned about life in the real world: Relationships, broken hearts, female empowerment, lesbianism, sexual harassment, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and feminism. It was all there and we were fascinated. We can say we discovered our calling and our career at Stanford, but didn’t pay a dime in tuition. (Okay, maybe one dime to see how tampon machines worked.)
Stories are fun. They make us feel connected to each other in a deep, but not serious way. Use our memories to trigger your own, or talk to your siblings or childhood friends and see what you can remember about puberty, sexuality, or growing up. Your kids will love imagining you as a funny and imperfect adolescent.