You wouldn’t think
the book too bizarre from the back cover. It actually sounds quite mundane:
"Yesterday’s children learned about the birds and bees in the street,
from friends and other unknowledgeable sources. Most people agree that that
day is past, the sexual revolution has arrived. But where can today’s child
turn for information, not preaching? The parents who got it wrong the first
time?… Here is a modest book for children up to the age of thirteen or so–and
for their parents–who need and want to know."
Sounds quite helpful,
right? It was this sales pitch that convinced my own mother to buy the little
white book when I was just a blooming 11-year-old (I only recently found it
under my bed). Why, even semi-reputable publication The Boston Globe
lends a kind quote to the back cover, claiming the book "fills a great
need…a ray of light in a dark basement."
A ray of light in a
dark basement, eh? Well, maybe. Let’s look at some excerpts from the book’s
opening piece, "Is it True?," a hopefully fictional account of a father
teaching his little girl about the reproductive process:
One day Lena and her
father were in the kitchen. Lena was drawing at the kitchen table. Her father
was peeling potatoes by the sink.
Lena suddenly, "is it true that you and mommy make love?"
"But Matthew and
Eva say that it’s dirty."
"I think it’s
lovely," said Lena’s father.
"Lovely? But Matthew
and Eva say that the daddy puts his thing inside the opening between the mother’s
legs when they make love. How can that be lovely?"
"Well, it is,"
answered Lena’s father. "For grown-ups it is nice and sweet and feels
wonderful… When people make love, they stroke and caress each other and then
they kiss each other and say sweet things to each other. Then they get undressed
so that they can feel each other’s naked bodies and can caress each other
all over, on the breasts and on the tummy, on the arms and legs and between
the legs. When they do that, the man’s sex organ–it is called the
penis–becomes stiff and it stands straight up away from his body. The woman’s
breasts become large and soft and the opening between her legs–it’s
the beginning of the passageway called the vagina–becomes wet and soft.
"Then the man puts
his penis inside the woman’s opening and caresses her and pulls his penis
in and out several times. And it feels nicer and nicer the longer they lie like
that together. And at last, it feels so nice that a fluid comes out of the man’s
penis. This fluid–it’s called the seminal fluid–goes into the
If you think this reads
more like cheap erotic literature than a mature explanation of reproduction
to little innocent children, you couldn’t be more wrong. This is proven
when Lena asks her father if the seminal fluid is "pee," to which
he assures his daughter that it is not pee at all, but rather the sperm necessary
I have a baby then if I make love to somebody?’ asked Lena.
won’t have a baby,’ answered her father. ‘But you haven’t
made love to a boy, have you?’
exactly. But we have played games, Eva and Betty and Sam and I, many times.
You know–doctor games. And we have looked at each other’s bottoms
and things, and touched each other…’
is quite different. Lots of children play those sort of games, but nobody can
ever have a baby because of it.’"
While this particular
point of Widerberg’s might be disputed by acknowledging the beloved age-old
game of Dr. Unlicensed Childcare Provider Steve Crams His Husky Shlongamadingaling
into the Cavernous Depths of Tiffany the Autistic Preteen, Lena nevertheless
becomes curious about her own future as a veritable breeding machine:
I have a baby?’ asked Lena.
are grown up,’ said her father. ‘When you have got breasts like Mommy
and hair above your opening–it’s called pubic hair–and your periods.’
"There were so
many things she did not know.
or menstruation as it’s also called, is when a tiny amount of blood comes
out from the opening between your legs. You know, Mommy often says, "Oh,
I have my period today," and then she has to put something up her opening
to keep the blood from running out and staining her underwear.’
"Yes, Lena knew
But what about the boys,
Lena? But what about the boys?
about the boys?’ she asked. ‘Do they have their periods too?’
don’t have anything like that. There are other signs to show a boy is grown
up enough to start a baby growing inside a woman. He starts to grow a beard
on his chin, his voice gets deeper, and his penis becomes bigger. And the little
bag behind his penis grows bigger, too, so that there will be room for the seminal
fluid to be kept in two round things called the testicles.’"
Still, Lena isn’t
completely sure how having a 10-inch shaft of man-meat ferociously pulsating
inside her "opening" could ever be pleasurable:
can it feel nice?’ asked Lena. ‘I don’t think it sounds nice
see, that’s because you’re not old enough to understand it properly
yet,’ said Lena’s father. ‘You remember you said that you play
sex games, you look at each other undressed and so on–you called it playing
doctor. Well, you think that’s nice and I suppose you don’t want to
stop it just because some parents don’t want their children to play games
Betty’s mother was terribly angry about it once when she came in and found
It True?"–like all great moments–eventually comes to an end.
And really, I’ve probably excerpted enough material already to violate
Widerberg’s copyright, so I better just pull out before I cause any sort
of terrible mess. The Epic Climax:
"The potatoes are
boiling," said Lena.
The water was bubbling
and hissing in the saucepan on the stove.
"I was talking
so much I forgot all about the food," said Lena’s father. He went
over to the stove and started to fry some sausages. Lena’s mother and her
two younger brothers would soon be home for lunch.
"Can I watch when
you and Mommy make love sometimes?" Lena asked.
"No, we want to
be by ourselves then," said her father. "Most people enjoy lovemaking
more when it’s private."
"I see," said
Lena. At that moment, Lena’s mother and brothers arrived.
"…We are having
sausages and potatoes for lunch," said Lena. "And I helped Daddy so
the potatoes didn’t boil over."
"That was nice
of you," said Lena’s mother. She took off her coat and then she began
to set the table.
In conclusion, let’s
take a moment to recap some of the more striking points encountered in today’s
A) The daddy puts his
thing inside the opening between the mother’s legs when they make love.
B) Then the man pulls
his penis in and out several times. And it feels nicer and nicer the longer
they lie like that together.
C) You know, Mommy often
says, "Oh, I have my period today," and then she has to put something
up her opening to keep the blood from running out and staining her underwear.
Needless to say, The
Kids’ Own XYZ of Love and Sex gets this critic’s euphoric approval.
Highly recommended, kids! Highly recommended!
Marty Beckerman is
a 17-year-old Alaskan humorist and the author of Death to All Cheerleaders:
One Adolescent Journalist’s Cheerful Diatribe Against Teenage Plasticity,
now available on Amazon.com and DeathTo-AllCheerleaders.com.