“Today I learned about the birds and the bees!!” M beamed proudly. My husband shot me a look from the driver’s seat and we both stifled a little chuckle. Having taught the three-year-old sunday school class at church myself, I knew nothing in the curriculum would lead to such a discussion. “Oh really?” I asked. “Tell us about it.” His enthusiasm filled the car as he showed us a bird puppet he’d made and a jar covered in stickers of bugs for catching insects. Out of curiosity I looked up the title of the lesson when we got home. “I Am Thankful For Birds and Insects.” Nothing too risqué about that!
In my boys’ little world, a crazy night party involves mom and dad staying up late watching the old James Bond and snacking on fruity pebbles. Maybe chocolatey swirl peanut butter ice cream. That is, of course, after dishes are done, table’s washed and chickens are safely tucked in their coop for the night. They’re pretty convinced that the vilest, meanest person living has a hook and takes residence on a ship in Neverland, and the only difference between boys and girls is (very generally speaking) that girls sing Frozen ALL the time and tend to choose the color pink over blue.
I know, I know. I can’t shelter them forever. But now? Really?? Sometimes the world seems to be rushing them into an adult life. Things that are totally inappropriate for them at such an innocent age. The birds and the bees are attacking, buzzing in their ears, pecking at them every chance they get. It’s thrown in their face at the grocery store, on billboards, on the TV, and at school (tabloids, maybe? Carl’s Jr commercials perhaps??). Even I, as an adult, often find it disgusting and degrading. A friend was telling me recently about the experience she’d have every day as she picked her daughter up from kindergarden. Teenagers who had just been let off the bus from the high school would rather conspicuously “make out” just a few feet away. Plain sight for all the little girls and boys (not to mention all their younger siblings) to witness. Boys and girls, girls and girls, all exposing young minds to something they aren’t emotionally or mentally ready for. In case we forget, “kindergardener” means kids who have only been on this earth five or six years. Children who still sleep with teddy bears and watch Sesame Street, pretend to be doggies and dinosaurs, and read picture books.
Of course the day will come when we will have to sit down and have a chat. I know they will hear things at school, see things at the store, and question what the song is really trying to say. I just hope they can be kids for a while longer. I hope they can rise above the crowd and know when to back out of a conversation. I hope they can stand up when no one else is standing. Some things are meant to wait. Let them be kids…believe in the unbelievable, run around with a cape, dig in the dirt with miniature tractors, and eat Mac and cheese. Someday the time will be right. They will need to know about those adult topics. But let’s not rush it. I am convinced exposure to such things at such a young and vulnerable age can bring absolutely nothing good.
For now let’s let birds be birds and bees be bees. Let them fill their imagination with pirates and fairies, not lustful, provocative pictures. It’s a harsh, scary world out there. We have to prepare them for it, but we don’t have to throw them to the wolves. Let’s enjoy their innocence and help them navigate the bombardment that is bound to come. Then maybe, as we work together and help our kids through, they can develop healthy habits, strong values, and a better idea of what “the birds and the bees” is all about.