Friday, December 19, 2014

Step by Step

(Note:  While I haven’t been blogging much in the past few years, every now and then I still write something for fun.  I think this was sometime last year. I just found it on the my laptop.  Enjoy.)

This past Friday I’m visiting with my son, and like always he hops into the car after school with nothing but his clothes, an oversize parka that would look good in North Korea, and a deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards with a play mat, which is a really big $40.00 mouse pad distinguished the fact that it’s really big and costs $40.00.  Even though this has become routine, I am persistently surprised by it.  He is now in high school, and when I recall that when I would pick him up from middle school he would emerge with a backpack the size of the Canadian Maritimes full of homework, I am always confused by his lack of gear.  I know they give homework in high school, and I know my kid.  And I know he is not the one who dutifully does his homework at lunch, but waits until 10 PM the night before the paper is due, and then needs a pen with blue ink because black ink or typing it on the computer is NOT what the teacher wants. So it was with great aplomb that, while tossing his clothes in the washing machine, I noticed a neatly folded, and then crushed up, blue piece of paper as it fell out of his pants pocket.  Colored pieces of paper make me nervous, as they’re often associated with nothing good.  Pink slips.  Yellow triplicates.   Black toe tags.  And my anxiety was in no way alleviated when I unfolded it to find it was his birth control homework.

That’s right.  My kid, the one for whom the concept of effective and prolonged toothbrushing is still a puzzle, is taking Sex Ed.  This is the same offspring of whom I have said repeatedly can only entertain the concept of driving once he learns to pick his clothes up from the floor, and therefore for whom I forsee a lifetime of public transport, is now studying sex.  (In fairness to him, though, I should note that in the ER I’ve seen plenty of pregnant people, and pregnancy progenitors, who have had catastrophic issues with oral hygiene.  If a kiss is still a kiss, perhaps a gum is still a gum.) 

I don’t want to get into dealing with adolescent sexuality.  Let’s just say it was not a problem for me because I was a short unathletic dweeb, and while I knew what the bases were the chances of me making the team were fairly slim.  And with The Teen it’s still pretty easy for the moment, because I’m more worried about him actually talking to a girl about anything that’s not a video game than what he would do if he actually touched one.

This particular worksheet was of interest for several reasons.  I was initially struck by the chart where you fill in the non-prescription methods of birth control.  In one of the rows under the heading of “Method,” he filled in “Sexual abstinence.”  Fair enough.  Under “How Does it Work?” he had written “Choosing to not have sex.”  So far, so good.  But in the column entitled “Does it Protect Against STD/HIV?” he answered “No.”

That made no sense to me at all, and not just because I have a medical background.  This kid has known exactly how things happen since age six at which time he was proud to declare he knew about “setual innercurse,” although he wasn’t quite sure how the man and the woman got there in the first place.  His knowledge of these things has only continue to grow as he learned about that “When a man loves a woman, he gets a powerful urge” from Puss in Boots in Shrek 2, and because I once accidentally left my Clarence Carter CD in the car and had to explain what “Strokin’” was about and why he shouldn’t stroke anything until he was married or dead, since both are often the same thing.  So I asked him how in the world he could put down that saying no wouldn’t prevent and STD or AIDS.  I had clearly forgotten about    teenage logic, because the answer, while wrong, made literal sense.  “Words can’t block an infection.  If it could, we could tell a cold to go away and it would.”  Well…ummm…yeah?

(For the record, correction has been instituted, and we are now clear that the word “no” is the ultimate method of birth control.   But, in deference to teen logic, it only works if you actually listen to what anyone else says, which is nowhere in the job description of adolescent.)

Then there was the part where you are to list five key steps in using a condom correctly.  I looked at his answers, and while technically correct, I felt he left out a lot.  For example, Step One is not to check the date on the package, but to actually FIND A GIRL.  Step Two is not to open the package, but to TALK TO A GIRL.  Step Three?  Talk to a girl about ANYTHING except collectible trading card games or League of Legends.  Anything.  Anything at all, son.  PLEASE.  And while I would be happy to educate him on the steps following condom use…like being sure to call and send flowers the next day…I’m not going to push beyond these first three steps, because checking these off the Bucket List is a major accomplishment unto itself.  (Please recall that I’m dealing with a young man who has already concluded that his soulmate will be a “hot” girl who cosplays as Harley Quinn and acquits herself well in both Yu-Gi-Oh and Starcraft.  It’s gonna be a long wait for grandchildren.)

I was also surprised to learn that they did not actually make him put a sample condom on a model.  I think that was a grave error.  Without prior experience, the first use of the prophylactic will come in darkened environment where he’ll be lucky to open the package with the condom rather than the small rectangular pouch of Gray Poupon stashed in his pocket from the college cafeteria.  And I’m pretty sure that condiments are not on the list of nonprescription methods of birth control.

I can barely wait until they watch the pregnancy video and the miracle of birth.  That ought to take some explaining.

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