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.” The book is called The Kids’ Own XYZ of Love and Sex.
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.
“Daddy,” said Lena suddenly, “is it true that you and mommy make love?”
“Yes,” said Lena’s father.
“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 mother’s body.”
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 for pregnancy.
“‘Won’t I have a baby then if I make love to somebody?’ asked Lena.
“‘No, you won’t have a baby,’ answered her father. ‘But you haven’t made love to a boy, have you?’
“‘Well, not 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…’
“‘Oh, that 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:
“‘When can I have a baby?’ asked Lena.
“‘When you 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.’
“‘Periods? What’s that?’
“There were so many things she did not know.
“‘Periods, 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 that.”
But what about the boys, Lena? But what about the boys?
“‘But what about the boys?’ she asked. ‘Do they have their periods too?’
“‘No, they 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:
“‘But how can it feel nice?’ asked Lena. ‘I don’t think it sounds nice at all…’
“‘Well, you 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 like that.’
“‘I know. Betty’s mother was terribly angry about it once when she came in and found us.’”
Unfortunately, “Is 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 dissection:
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.
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