Teachers get a lot of interesting gifts from their students. I think the most interesting, and inappropriate gift I received was a long, pink nightgown from the child of a Filipino mother. She also gave me one of my best gifts — dinner out (with her) at a fancy restaurant in Arlington. I got a lot of mugs, most of which are broken or given away these 20 years since I last stepped foot in a classroom as a teacher. I already wrote about one of my favorite gifts, my cheeseburger pencil holder. A couple parents gave me things they made themselves and I have one or two of those left, including this needlepoint sampler.
The mother of one of the sweetest children I ever met made this and gave it to me in 1988. Her son, Michael, was probably in first grade at the time. He and his family moved from St. Angelo, Texas at the beginning of the school year because his father got a job at the Pentagon. He was a Marine, and scary as hell, but his wife and son were so sweet and kind.
Michael was in my class because he had a brain tumor when he was very young that caused him to have seizures, so many a day that he had to wear a helmet most of the time to protect his head for when he fell. The seizures mostly stopped when the tumor was removed, but he was still slightly delayed because of the brain trauma. He also had a brain stent to reduce fluids from building up around his brain.
A few years after the family moved to the DC area, the father developed a seizure disorder. I remember talking to Michael’s mom about how unfair it was that both her son and now her husband had seizure disorders and asked her how she stayed so positive and she told me that it is not that God gives you only what you can handle in life, but you learn to handle what God gives you ((this was a Catholic school, hence the God stuff)).
I last talked to Michael’s mom (and Michael) after I gave birth to my daughter. It was a brief conversation, but it was memorable in that both she and Michael were still very positive people. Michael will be in his thirties now. I hope he is still as cheerful as he was as a child.
As mentioned in the previous post, I partially learned about the birds and the bees from a set of books my mother gave me after being unwilling (embarrassed?) to answer a legitimate question about sperm and eggs.
The Life Cycle Library for Young People is a set of four books whose “Note to Readers” includes:
The story told on the following pages is one of the most fascinating and important ones in the life of every human being. Doctors … are still trying to discover the details of the process by which a tiny cell no larger than a speck of dust grows to be a growing, eating, crying, laughing, loving baby.
It was published in 1969 by The Parent and Child Institute of Chicago.
As I mentioned in that other post, I was not ready to read a set of books about sex. I didn’t open them until one afternoon when my friend, Cindy, was over. I doubt we read the glossary that talked about such topics as “going steady” or “sophistication.”
We probably didn’t think the drawings were dated, since they were what we saw in newspapers and magazines every day.
No, I remember we skipped to Book 3, page 133 and read the section on “Sexual Intercourse” which begins:
The most intimate way for a husband and wife to express their love is through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is the act which enables the male sperm and female egg to unite to begin the life of a new human being. The primary purpose of sexual intercourse for all other living things is reproduction of the species. For a husband and wife it is also an emotional and physical expression of love.
It goes on to discuss foreplay, erogenous zones, arousal and orgasm ((even the woman’s!)), then discusses conception.
I’m pretty sure I only ever read that section of the books and maybe the parts about childbirth.
Really, it is not surprising I equated sex with conception after all, is it?
‘Round about the time I was in 7th grade, I must have had some questions about sex. We had been exposed to “sex education” in grade school. The girls went into one room and the boys in another. In the girls’ session a teacher stood in front of the class and talked about having a period and then showed a film about having a period and about how an egg is fertilized. I am not sure what they talked about in the boys’ session.
I remember my mom asking me if I had any questions about what I’d learned. I did. I wanted to know exactly how a man got his sperm got into a woman’s vagina so it could fertilize the egg. I imagined a doctor and a large syringe type instrument might be involved. My mom’s response was that she didn’t want to talk about it ((although she denied that in later years)).
She gave me a set of books instead. I was too shy to read them, especially when I saw that there were drawings of naked people in them, so they sat on my shelf for a few months.
In 7th grade science our science teachers were expected to teach life-science. This time boys and girls stayed in the same room. My teacher was Mr. Ludwig, who was young and quite dashing. He explained how a man got his sperm in a woman’s vagina to fertilize the egg. (The man and woman lie naked together and the man put his penis in her vagina and the sperm came out). My thought? No way. No way did that happen. No way did my parents do that. No way was I ever going to do anything like that. Several of my female classmates agreed with me.
My friend, Cindy was less disgusted with the idea and when she was over one afternoon we looked at the books my mom had given me.
When I started 8th grade, not long after school began in the late summer, the teachers went on strike. Kids were still expected to go to school so we were all gathered in the auditorium and were shown movies. One of the movies contained some adult themes, including discussion of sex. Someone in the film mentioned having sex more than once.
I was shocked. I assumed that you only had to do it once, ever. Like on your wedding night. The sperm that the man put in the woman would wander around her body and whenever she wanted a child, a sperm would fertilize an egg.
My friends laughed at my ignorance and said that you had to do it whenever you wanted to have a baby.
Yeah, I was not so pleased to hear that.