'Hey MOM! Do you see any hair growing under there? I think there is!'
'There', was an armpit. And I wouldn't necessarily call it 'hair', just yet.
Having a 13 yr old boy, I've discovered that being asked to confirm the existence of pit hair, or to affirm there's been a slight change of voice, and that discussing such things as girls, booze, drugs, sex, life choices and the morning boner, are not uncommon.
It's called Puberty.
And he's there.
Actually, they're both experiencing various changes, on different levels.
So I'm experiencing it by proxy, times two.
I've always been very open with the boys. About pretty much anything and everything.
I want them to know that whatever the issue, they can ALWAYS come to me.
Any topic is open for discussion.
I don't always have the answers, but it doesn't mean we can't still talk about it.
However, I realize not everyone is like me.
Not every parent is comfortable having their 11 yr old ask the question 'can a girl still have sex while on her period?'
Not every parent is comfortable explaining to their 9 yr old that they can't have a half nude WWE Diva as his background pic. Even if she DOES look cute with her lollipop!
That's why, when I was asked if I'd be interested in receiving and reviewing a book by Mary H. Halter, called:
I said SURE!
Maybe there are parents out there would could benefit from a book like this.
Maybe the kids and I could get something from it, too.
The night it arrived, I skimmed through it quickly, and got a feel for what it was all about.
As I had suspected, we had already covered many of the topics, but there were still areas we hadn't touched on, and it offered further explanation on some of those we had.
It is produced by the company, Healthy Edudynamics, as part of their educational package, A Time To Talk.
The book is comprised of actual questions, asked by adolescences who attended the A Time To Talk program.
From the website "101 Questions Kids Book was designed to be a companion work to assist parents and teachers who are using A Time To Talk DVD, Questions and Answers about Puberty and Adolescence."
So I finished the book, and left it in a spot where I thought it may grab the boys attention, and bring about any discussions they may want to have.
Either they didn't notice it, or they did and didn't bother to pick it up.
Or, they're reading it, and going back to their friends saying 'Dude! Did you know that a wet dream is called a nocturnal emission!?'
Or 'MAN! Did you know a girl can be born with up to 300,000 eggs on their ovaries!? 300,000 MAN!'
Or, they're reading it, and just not saying anything.
So the other morning, I thought I'd point out it's existence by bringing up an issue both boys have suffered from since they were little.
Night time leg cramps.
For years, both boys would wake up with pains in their legs. Always asking why it happened.
'Growing pains' has always been the answer.
Wouldn't you know it?
THAT topic is covered on page 39!
Then, I read them another Q&A. One which had already been asked in our house.
'How do you know you're in puberty?'
The answer included a list, which then meant, of course, they wanted to hear the list.
One item on it was, 'Hair starts to grow under arms, in the pubic area around the base of the penis and on the face and sometimes the chest.'
Little did I know that innocently bringing up the topic of night time leg cramps, would lead to a full fledged competition of 'who has more pubic hair on their ballsack!'
Boy 1: I do!
Boy 2: No Way! I do!
I refused to be referee on that one.
And ya know, even' I'VE learned a few things!
I had no idea that, 'Inside the testicles are something called somniferous tubules. They are little tiny coils that if stretched out would be the length of a football field.'
OK ... I must have missed that part of sex ed class.
And then there was this ...
The high statistic surprised me. And it surprised me the boys weren't that far behind.
Although I didn't know the actual number before reading this, I had assumed correctly that it was higher for girls.
I'm sure that says something, on my perception of women, and life.
I didn't know it was actually *illegal* to 'kick someone in the balls'.
Unless you were defending yourself of course.
Let's say two men were having a fistfight, and were pounding each other, could one all of a sudden be arrested because they kicked the other in the testicles? I did not know that!
And then, THEN, there was the question that threatened to dispel the George Costanza myth of 'I was in the pool!'
A question was asked (in the book) that involved erections.
And an answer given, that changes my understanding of the male penis, according to George.
Within the lengthily answer, one sentence said 'Sometimes erections occur from being scared, or cold or from having sexual thoughts or feelings. Erections also can happen for no reason at all, and those are called spontaneous erections.'
The one word that jumped out at me was COLD.
I always thought cold had the opposite effect.
At least, that's what George Costanza has led us all to believe!
Could it be, George was wrong about the whole 'pool thing'?
Or maybe, it's just reacts that way in cold water ... ?
You may like this book. You may not.
As I said, the boys and I DID get something from it. And I'm sure I'll use it again as a reference in the future.
Bottom line, here's what impressed me:
There were some TOUGH questions in there.
On abortion, homosexuality, race, sexual harassment/assault and more. The author does not push HER opinion on these kids with her answers. I specifically like one response she repeats throughout the book, specifically to educators using the program ...
"... it is important to tell the child this is a great question, but one that should be discussed with a parent or adult in their home."
In terms of sexual harassment/assault, among other advice, she advises a child to tell, tell and tell some more. IF the first trusting adult doesn't believe you, tell another.
That's some advice I can get behind.
That on the first page of the book, it states, "a portion of the book proceeds will benefit our partner organization KIDS AT HOPE, (An innovative concept which states and demonstrates that all children are capable of success, NO EXCEPTIONS!) and help support the fight against childhood leukemia."
I respect that.
And most importantly, she believes that it's up to US as PARENTS to discuss all these issues with our kids.
Because if WE don't, someone else WILL.
And I don't know about you guys, but I'd rather they not learn it from some 'dude' on the net, thanks.
Or Seinfeld for that matter.
So thank you, Healthy Edudynamics, for the opportunity to review this book.
And thank you, once again, to author Mary H. Halter, for the quick personal reply and turn around, during my excellent customer service experience with her organization.
If you get the opportunity, give it a read.
You don't have to agree with EVERYTHING in it. But it offers the opportunity to open the doors of conversation.
And if you have a copy, go ahead, leave it around your bathroom.
You may just end up having to inspect your adolescence's pits, pecs and ... well ... yeah.
I'm stopping there.
Ahhhh Puberty. It's going to be an interesting ride.
Is it over yet?