Thursday, 18 October 2012


Oh, blimey*.
(*Warning, Mum, subsequent exclamations may be swearier).

My daughter sat at the tea table tonight, and asked: “What is sex?”. Her dad caught my eye and answered quickly: “Your mum will explain it.” I believe this is what’s referred to in rugby as a hospital pass. You know - when you catch the ball but don’t have time to catch your breath before a big bastard flattens you.

The thing was, though, that this wasn’t just an innocent query. What I initially thought was a bit of teenage curiousity from a sweet girl who doesn’t know what most 14-year-olds think they know about the mysteries of fornication and procreation, was a little more alarming.

We had a little talk as she was having a bath. And it turned out that a lad at school had been having a bit of a joke at her expense. At least that’s what I think happened, and I’m going to try to get to the bottom of it by having a chat with her teaching assistant tomorrow.

“This boy, he was nice, he came to sit next to me when I was finishing my drink at lunchtime, and asked me if I would be his boyfriend,” my daughter said.

“Girlfriend, I think he probably said,” I corrected, before asking: “Who was he? Was he one of the boys in the special school classes or was he a mainstream pupil?”

“Mainstream. I said yes. Then he asked me if I’d have sex with him. So I said yes. That means we’re boyfriend and girlfriend, doesn’t it?”

Once I’d recovered my cool and managed not to blurt out one of the expletives running through my head, I quizzed her about exactly where she was, who was around, whether an adult would have heard, whether the boy’s mates were nearby (possibly giggling), and I think I understand what happened.

I think the ‘lad’ (and I use that in the pejorative sense) may have been dared by a friend to get my daughter to say something they could snigger at.

Teenage boys are idiots, I know this. But I’m mad at this particular one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my daughter is quite closely supervised by a teaching assistant at lunch and breaktimes, so he must have been quite sneaky to manage to hold this conversation with her without an adult realising exactly what he was saying. 

Secondly, if it happened like she described, he was taking advantage of her learning difficulties and her lack of streetwise smarts to make fun of her and laugh at her.

Thankfully, he hadn’t upset her, because she didn’t realise this. On the other hand, the effect it did have on her broke my heart a little bit. The conversation actually had made my daughter happy, because she thought it meant that he was her boyfriend. (The “he was nice” bit is making me go boggle-eyed, gnash my teeth and think violent thoughts).

So I held a difficult conversation with her, kneeling on the bathmat next to a wide-eyed child surrounded by soap bubbles. As delicately as I could, I explained that sex was something natural and nice that happens between two people who love each other. I even included a small amount of anatomical detail about a willy (I know, I know) going inside the woman’s bits (I know, I know). “Oh, is that where the man gives her the sperm?” she said, surprising me by remembering a pertinent point from sex education classes, and making me feel like a numpty.

“Yes, sweetheart. But it’s something that adults do, not children. And you can get in trouble for doing it when you’re under 16. Plus it’s much better to wait until you’re grown-up and you really love someone. It’s normal and healthy but it’s private. When that boy was talking to you about it, he was being a bit silly and rude about it because sometimes that’s what boys are like.” The bastarding bastardy little bastard, I thought. “I think his friends were trying to get you to say something you didn’t really know was rude. I think they dared him to do it and he was being a bit of an idiot. But you’re not in trouble, because you didn’t know. And there’s no point worrying about the silly things some silly boys do, is there?”

She took in all this information and reacted astonishingly well. (By not asking me if Daddy puts his willy in Mummy for a start). After more matter-of-fact discussion, we agreed on the best thing to say to that boy, or any other one that came up to her and wanted to talk about anything like this again.

“I’ll hold up my hand, Mummy, and say: ‘Stop!’ You shouldn’t be talking to me about this, it’s wrong. I’m going to tell an adult,” she said solemnly. 

She clambered out of the bath, and I wrapped her up warm in her dressing gown before  she happily pottered off for her Cadbury’s Highlights hot chocolate and a listen to a couple of tracks from her Hannah Montana Movie Soundtrack CD. She seemed absolutely fine.

I breathed a sigh of relief. And thought about the conversation I will have with her teacher tomorrow. Where I’ll suggest they see if they track down Mr Lets Get The Special Needs Girl To Say Stuff About Sex, put him on the spot, give him a right ticking off, and embarrass the hell out of him.

Then maybe stuff a firework up his lily-white arse.

Song is Super Furry Animals - Sex, War And Robots

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