Sunday, October 19, 2008

Psssst ... Your Epidermis is Showing

" It is clear enough that you are making some distinction in what you said, that there is some nicety of terminology in your words. I can't quite follow you. " ~Flann O'Brien

"The reproduction of mankind is a great marvel and mystery. Had God consulted me in the matter, I should have advised him to continue the generation of the species by fashioning them out of clay." ~Martin Luther

Now, I am certain, in my vast reading audience, that at least a few of you learned this phrase and used it repeatedly in elementary school. Where did the first kid learn this? It could have been a biology student who whispered it to several seventh graders during lunch, who likewise used it to horrify their second and third grade siblings that evening over dinner. It could have been a result of parents who were trying to teach their kids “correct terminology” for the skin of the Homo sapien corpus. Who knows.

I do see a trend in my generation of parents who are teaching their kids “correct terminology.” While this is generally considered to be a good thing, it does create room for some uncomfortable situations that make you wish they were simply teasing each other about their epidermises. My daughter has educated more than one of her friends on occasion, the most memorable being when she was three and corrected her four-year-old friend as he referred to the primary distinguishing part of the male anatomy. (They were watching me change my infant son’s diaper, so it was perfectly appropriate that they should be discussing the subject. Just thought I should clear that up.)

Two years later, my son asked his preschool teacher during a diaper change (it was holiday season) if Baby Jesus had – well, that particular part. Once she recovered from choking, she hit the question back into his court, saying, “Well, he was a boy, so what do you think?”

“Me think he do,” he replied with a smile of confident satisfaction.

(There is a second part to this story, but in an effort to be family-friendly, you will have to ask me about it later if you really want to know.)

Let’s just say, by 2:00, the story had made the rounds among the teachers (most of whom were former co-workers of mine at that same fine institution.)

Pick-up time proved to be a moment of great motherly pride.

Another time, my daughter’s assured choice of vocabulary sent my own mother to blushing. Sorry, Mom. =)

This week, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher stopped me in the hall after school. “I have a great story for you,” she said. “We’re studying living organisms in science class …”

Uh oh.

I braced myself.

“We were talking about how one of the distinguishing characteristics of a living organism is the ability to reproduce …”

Now I was looking for a place to hide.

“… and out of the blue, your daughter said, ‘Well, what if your parents don’t know what that means?’”

I still have no idea what she meant by that, and subsequent conversations with her revealed nothing except that she (perhaps conveniently?) remembers the whole story differently. I’m sticking with the teacher’s rendition here, though, because it’s priceless.

“I was going to just let the comment go,” she continued, “but D.Q. turned to her and said, …

“Well, they had YOU, didn’t they??”

I’m thinking, if anyone needs help sharing the facts of life with their elementary student, just let me know. I know a class of fourth graders who might be glad to help. =)


  1. LOL - And my kids tell me French kissing is a kiss on the lips. The oldest has been told otherwise by another child, but won't say what she was told. So maybe I need to sign my kids up for a trip to TX to learn something.

    Paula (from SC)

  2. So glad to have been his teacher and I STILL tell that story!

  3. I remember those funny! I enjoyed the old pictures, too.

  4. I want to hear the rest of the story! Email me, I'm curious! You are such a fun writer, I always feel good when I read your blog. I can't wait to read about your journeys overseas.

    I was deeply touched by your generous donation to my mission trip to El Salvador. It is a blessing to know you in some small way!

    Write me with Chapter Two, you know the kind of work I do so I'm sure it won't be any more outrageous than the things I'm going to hear tomorrow at a high school!


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