I was sitting around a dinner table last night listening to my friend Carl talk about the high school sex-ed course he teaches, and the kind of questions he gets. Whew. Let’s just say I’m completely unqualified to teach high school sex-ed.
It made me think, though. In my new book Seeing Red, there’s a chapter about blood and coming-of-age rites. The first draft of the book included a section about circumcision. But, at the request of both the publisher and the editor, I removed all but one small sidebar.
They thought the information was too sensitive for middle-grade readers. And when the publisher and editor agree, they’re right 99 percent of the time. Maybe 99.9 percent of the time.
Then there’s this: I distinctly remember sitting on my bedroom floor in grade seven and working on my homework for Lutheran church school. There was a word in the Bible reading which I didn’t understand.
I had realized by this point that I shouldn’t ask my mother to define words for me, because most words I didn’t understand were words that I didn’t want to talk about with my mother.
But, this was the Bible.
I asked my mother.
And, she explained circumcision — a topic which, as a 12-year-old girl, was so excruciatingly embarrassing that I remember the conversation to this day.
Now I ask you: if you were 10, or 11, or 12, and you didn’t understand circumcision, how would you rather learn? From a science book, or from your mom?