Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's burn a book

A few years ago, my kids’ curiosity about childbirth began to surface, so I thought I’d take the birds and bees by the horns. I went out and bought the first two books in a series that offered developmentally appropriate, values based information for my kids’ age ranges and we read them together.  The older book included a very basic, but direct explanation of intercourse.  I thought it was a great first step to unveiling the mysteries of life to my older girl without freaking her out.  I explained to her at the time that this was private information, which she should not share with her friends or younger sister.  She's been open, since, about bringing me her questions.  The book for my younger daughter was much less specific about the baby making part of the equation.

My big girl did a great job of keeping it to herself. Seeing my middle girl’s shock this week, I knew she hadn’t been told.  I was just building up the courage to tackle that same reading with my middle daughter, now that she’s approaching that stage of late-elementary curiosity, but the elementary school library usurped from me the privilege of being able to break the story gently.  She checked out a nifty book the librarian recommended to her about the human body, and during her free reading time later in the day, she discovered a chapter on reproduction that included a diagram of a penis inserted into a vagina.  Needless to say, when I picked her up from school, the first thing she did was to show me the book and seek an explanation for what was, to her, a pretty confusing and disturbing image.

I am, needless to say, livid.  Although I empathize with the school, in that it is difficult to know what is on every page of every book in the library, a diagram that graphic should have certainly been caught by someone along the way – the writer who was aiming to sell the book to elementary schools, the publisher who supposedly reviewed and approved the material, the librarian who with a simple look at the table of contents could have seen there was a chapter on reproduction that should, perhaps, be reviewed before putting the book on the shelf.

Now, instead of gently introducing these mysteries to my daughter, I have to work backwards from her awkward dismay to reassure her of God’s plans for our bodies.  I can take part of the blame for not having covered the material sooner; she could have heard the news on the playground or in the backyard by now, but no fellow school kid was going to explain it to her with the vivid and shocking specificity and credibility that she encountered in that diagram.

We took the book to the principal and the librarian called me back to let me know the review process the book has to go through before it can be pulled off the shelf at her school and the two other elementary schools in the district that also have it in their collection.  I’m hoping no Kindergarteners decide to check it out before they make up their minds.  In the litigious atmosphere of schools, they did not, of course, offer any apology.

 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

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