There comes a time in every unsuspecting fifth-grader’s life when school suddenly becomes really weird and icky, and for some reason your parents want to talk to you about weird, icky stuff too. All you want to do is go outside and play some kind of animal/space invasion/kickball game, but the adults at home and at school want to talk about kissing and boy parts and girl parts and babies. It’s gross.
Son Number One is only about a week or two away from the “Family Life” portion of the fifth grade curriculum, and he’s not thrilled. “It’s going to be weird,” he says with an uncomfortable grudiggle (equal parts groan/shudder/giggle).
Since I have my finger on the pulse of American education, I was surprised when he told us.
“That’s in the fifth grade?” I said to my wife, incredulously.
“Yes, dear. Don’t worry, I’m on it.” Apparently, she actually talks to people, and she’d already gotten a book recommended by a friend, and she and Son Number One were already reading it together.
Hmm... Either she doesn’t trust me to handle this sort of thing, or else she asked me to handle it when I was watching TV and I didn’t hear her. That one could go either way, but I’m leaning toward her wanting to handle it herself. She is probably – very rightfully – worried about what I would tell him without a strict script. Can’t blame her there.
We got a consent form the other day from the school. I had to laugh. It said if you wanted to opt your child out of the Family Life class, they would do other work in an alternate classroom.
That’s pretty funny to me. I don’t care what classroom you send them to, they’re still going to be out on the playground. If you don’t want them to get Family Life information, the form should really just say, “Pull them out of school now.”
Without homeschooling, you’ve got two real choices: If you want them to get the actual Family Life information, have them stay with their class. If you want them to get a skewed, eleven-year-old-crowd-sourced, wildly inaccurate interpretation of the Family Life information, opt them out and they can hear all about it at recess.
Have you ever tried to extract verbally communicated information from a fifth-grader?
You: “Hey Jimmy. Tell your mom that we have her casserole dish. And the enchiladas were delicious.”
Jimmy’s mom the next day: “Jimmy told me you think we should enroll him in Make a Wish? And go to Ensenada for some fishes? What’s that all about?”
Good luck with that.
Our boys share a room, so all I know is by the time Son Number Three gets to the fifth grade (God willing), he’ll probably think he could teach the class, since he’s heard all about it after lights out. The information will have been so poorly transferred that he’ll think all babies are born in Virginia and circumstantial evidence means someone’s peep got cut off, but at least he’ll have the information.
The consent form also said that we could go to the district office on a particular evening to preview the material and the videos that the kids will see. I pointed that out to my wife and started to say, “Maybe we should...”
“No!” she shot back, not letting me finish my sentence.
She is, of course, afraid I’ll bring popcorn and narrate from the back of the room. She’s obviously right, but I don’t think that’s any reason not to go.
So I guess she’s going to handle the information dispensing for now, and she’ll probably hand the reins off to me when they get to high school. I’m still not sure why she doesn’t want me to impart my wisdom right now about the direct correlation between Chardonnay prices and pregnancy rates, but I guess it can wait.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen
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