Until I was 14, and the football coach walked into homeroom and said something that has stuck with me ever since. "When you're little your parents tell you these are your ears" points to ears "and these are your eyes" points to eyes "and this is your nose and this is your mouth" points "these are your shoulders" touches shoulders "and then they skip down to your knees as if there were nothing in between."
And he was right, in my case anyway. Which made it way more difficult than it should have been to tell my mom when I had a UTI- the main symptoms of which are frequent urination and a burning sensation in the urethra when urinating. If you can't discuss your urethra, it's kind of hard to discuss a UTI.
I'm not bashing my mom here. She graduated high school in 1961 was a faithful Catholic- up until my father leaving with a woman younger than me and the priest child abuse scandals hit simultaneously and she was left bereft and righteously pissed about it.
The thing is, until the football coach told me so, I had no idea my vagina and my urethra were not in the same place*. Think about that for a second. At 14, I could have a reasonably intelligent discussion about my amygdala and duodenum (I was a strange child), but I thought I peed out of my vagina.
I was absolutely determined that no child I had responsibility for would grow up so ignorant of their own body. Which is how I became the preferred sex ed teacher for a good portion of Northeastern Pennsylvania. It's not just my family and my husband's family that send their kids to me. I've had friends and coworkers** ask me to give their kids "the talk".
Anything to avoid saying "penis" or "vagina" to your own child, I suppose.
Why? I know and I don't know. "Penis" and "vagina" are medical terms, just like "duodenum" and "amgydala". I don't think anyone would have a problem discussing lungs with their child, but get to what's covered by their underwear, and all of a sudden they're whipping out phrases like "down there" (Australia, perhaps?) and "privates" (in the Army?).
There has been quite a trend lately to start telling even tiny tots all about the human body and its capacity for reproduction, in scientific and clinical terms. Some parents do this because they shun "lying" and insist on telling the two-year-old just exactly how his baby sister got into mommy's tummy--oh, wait, into her uterus--while others believe that child development requires frank talk about sex as soon as a young child asks any questions. I was not a part of that generation and don't really think it's a good idea; while you can, certainly, give a child all the anatomical names for body parts and explain to him or her using simple charts or diagrams just what reproductive activity involves, you can'tgive him or her an adult understanding of these matters. Which means, at the very least, you can't stop him or her from shouting out in church, at a crowded restaurant, or on a plane "My [anatomically correct body part] is really itchy!" or from telling a pregnant neighbor, helpfully and in detail, just how that baby got into her uterus.
I fail to see the problem here. I don't think this person would be upset if their child said "my elbow is really itchy!" And wouldn't you want to know if your child's labia are "really itchy"? That could well be an infection or allergic reaction. It's the sort of thing you'd think a parent would want to know.
I also want to know why small children can't handle knowing how fetuses end up in uteruses. Would this person quail at telling their small child how their lungs work? I think not. Ignorance is only a virtue with itchy labia and fetuses, I guess.
As for the child telling a pregnant woman how she got pregnant (a) so what? I'm sure the pregnant woman knows how that happened, and (b) you can stop that conversation by saying, "Honey, she's pregnant. She knows how that happened, and we don't discuss other people's sex lives. It's rude." End of conversation.
I fail to see how ignorance, which leads to pregnant teens with syphilis is better than a lapse in etiquette.
*For any guys out there wondering how crazy I am, female genitalia is a black box unless you get out a mirror and are particularly flexible. It's not right out in front like a penis is. Women have to work to see their own genitals.
**I've done it for friends, but not for coworkers. I don't want a coworker freaking out on me at work after discovering I've told their teenage daughter there's nothing wrong with kink if that's what you're into.