Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

So, I keep seeing people sharing this petition and other alarmist articles related to the new Ontario Sexual Education curriculum, which is to be rolled out this September.  It’s making me twitchy. Rather than getting into multiple discussions and arguments with  various people in various places, I figured I’d try to articulate my thoughts on my little corner of the internet, and if people want to consider them and have a discussion, I’m open to that.

First, a few things about my beliefs and where I’m coming at this from:

I’m a Christian. I believe God designed sex for the purposes of enjoyment and pro-creation within the context of a committed and loving relationship between two people. (Probably two hetero-sexual people, but I also know and love some pretty amazing people in same-sex relationships, and I don’t have the time or energy to determine if their lifestyle is “sinful” or not – not my issue).

I also recognize that the majority of people in our society do not share my belief or approach to sex. Lots of people are engaging in all kinds of sexual activity outside of the paradigm of a monogamous committed relationship. Children are being raised in all kinds of settings, with exposure to all kinds of things.  Whether it’s tv, magazines, internet, or information from peers, young people are being exposed to sex and sexuality, and youth are engaging in sexual activity. Not talking about it is not going to make it stop. On the contrary, there are studies that show  that the more knowledge and education young people have, the more likely they are to make safe choices.

One of my biggest concerns with the outcry opposing this curriculum is that people jumping on the bandwagon don’t seem to actually know or understand what’s in the curriculum. I would highly encourage people who have concerns about it to read it. I’ve read  it in it’s entirety and have no concerns. None. Seriously.

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Here are my responses to some of the main concerns I’m hearing with regard to the new curriculum:

 

“THEY ARE STARTING GRAPHIC SEXUAL EDUCATION AT GRADE 1!!!!!!!”

The grade one curriculum includes teaching children the proper names for their body parts, including genitalia. In our home, we’ve been doing that since our children began talking, because we think it’s important that children have the proper terminology to refer to their body parts. If abuse was to occur, it’s important that children can describe what happened to them, and respond to questions with appropriate and accurate words. Beyond naming body parts, the grade 1 curriculum introduces recognizing the difference between caring and exploitative behaviours, and identifying the feelings one might experience in connection with these behaviours. I want my children to know those things – before they’re in grade one.

 

“THE CURRICULUM PUSHES A HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA!!!!!”

The grade three curriculum (and beyond)  includes an acknowledgment that people have visible and invisible differences, and that we need to be respectful of people who are different than us. Along with race, gender, disability, cultural values, and others, sexual orientation and different family models are included as ways that people differ from one another. It’s true. Our kids are going to run into people who are different than they are, and will need to be respectful (perhaps this is something that we need to teach adults as well…hmmm…).

 

“THEY’RE TEACHING ABOUT MASTURBATION!!!!!”

The following is a direct quote from the grade six curriculum, and the only reference I can find to masturbation:

 “Things like wet dreams or vaginal lubrication are normal and happen as a result of physical changes with puberty. Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.”

True? I’d say so. It’s not encouraging anything or giving a how-to guide. It’s stating a fact in a non-shaming way.

 

“THEY’RE TEACHING ABOUT ORAL AND ANAL SEX IN GRADE 7!!!!!!”

The grade seven curriculum discusses STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). Oral and anal sex are included as ways that infections can be transmitted. Through anecdotal conversations with parents and teachers, I have heard of cases where young people are engaging in these types of sex acts because they think it’s not sex and is somehow safer. Providing kids with accurate information about the risks related to these types of activities can only enable them to make better decisions.

 

“THEY’RE ENCOURAGING CHILDREN TO QUESTION THEIR GENDER IDENTITY!!!!!!”

The grade eight curriculum does address the issue of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. It is a reality that many people experience confusion with regard to this, and by grade eight children may have experienced their own confusion, or come into contact with someone who has changed gender or expresses themselves as a different gender. Giving them language to discuss this in a safe and respectful way may help those experiencing confusion navigate it in a more positive way, and will hopefully increase understanding and minimize bullying. In my reading, the curriculum is not encouraging children to question their own gender identity, rather making the understanding that there are some people who will experience this.

 

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The more I’ve read the curriculum, the more supportive I am of it and encouraged by the topics included and the tone it’s presented in. Beyond the things I’ve responded to here, it includes topics relating to safety with regard to texting and social media. It talks about the importance of respect and consent. It talks about the importance of understanding the impact of engaging in sexual activity and delaying those decisions until one is older and feels prepared. In a world where kids have smart phones and computers in their bedrooms, where we hear of girls being pressured to send explicit pictures of themselves and so much more, I am so glad to know that there will be opportunities for teachers to guide discussions in a safe context about the things that kids are running into, and I hope that openly naming and discussing these things will diminish abuse and enable those experiencing it to speak out.

 

Knowledge is power. And ignorance is not bliss.

 

 

Love and Forgiveness

I heard these two songs within a few minutes of each other while driving tonight. Hearing the second after the first made me so thankful for this advent season and the coming of Love that enables Forgiveness.

 

 

 

I barely understand – like I’m standing on the edge something big and deep that I can only see a tiny bit of, but I know it’s something worth exploring. Something about the juxtaposition of these just drew me in.

Road 2 Hope

Winter is coming.

I’m dreading it already.

My mood has not been great lately. I struggle with mild depression, and the past few weeks have been hard. I don’t want to get out of bed, the most basic of tasks seems overwhelming, the smallest glitch in the day can move me to tears. The idea of adding dark and cold to my current circumstances is enough to make me want to hibernate.

I know the things that make me feel better – exercise, sunshine, good music, time with friends. But when I’m in this place moving toward those things – even when I know they’ll make me feel better – seems too hard. Exercise especially. I haven’t exercised in ages. This seems to correspond with my inability to fit into any of my clothes, which doesn’t make me feel any better about myself.
 
 
I was talking with a friend yesterday who also struggles with depression. She spoke about how it’s hard to to muster the energy to do things – even good things that she enjoys. This week she had dinner with a friend, and before they left, they scheduled their next dinner, because otherwise it wouldn’t happen. I decided I need to apply the same logic to exercise. Scheduling it in to make it happen, so that I don’t let my feelings direct my actions (or, inaction).
 
And so…I’ve decided to run a 10K as part of the City Kidz Road 2 Hope Hamilton Marathon on November 1st.
 
sneaker leaves
 
I’ve never run a 10K before…I tried to run 5 on the weekend and discovered that even that was harder than I remembered (it had been awhile), so this is going to be a bit of a challenge. I’m going to have to make a training schedule and stick with it. But I think that scheduled regular exercise is going to be a key component to my being well this winter. And so, as it’s called “Road 2 Hope” I’m thinking of it as MY road to hope as well.
 
…and my road to fitting back into my favourite jeans.
 
                                                                                                                             *****
city kidz
Road 2 Hope Hamilton Marathon is a fundraiser for City Kidz – a fantastic program serving children from low-income families in my neighbourhood. Would you consider sponsoring me as I run in support of this great cause? 
 
                                                                  >>>  CLICK HERE TO SPONSOR ME! <<<
 
Thanks!
 
 
 
 

Let Me Be Singing

A mama friend posted this on facebook last night:

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I was immediately brought back to that place of frustration and desperation, walking the floor with my own wee boys. Her positivity and determination to dance through the difficulty inspired me.

This morning in church, we sang this song, which also happened to be one of the ones she posted following that initial status.

I was struck when we got to the line

Whatever may come, and whatever lies before me

Let me be signing when the evening comes.

Evening isn’t the easiest time of day around here. Our kids are still not great at bedtime, and Ezra hasn’t embraced the transition from a crib to a bed quite as quickly as we had hoped. By evening we are tired, short on patience, frustrated with the kids, and snippy with each other. When we got to those words this morning “…let me be singing when the evening comes…”  it grabbed my attention. Evening. Let me be singing. During the hardest part of my day.

Usually when I get to that line “Whatever may come…” I think grand scale:

Job loss? Whatever may come…let me be singing.

Illness? Whatever may come…let me be singing.

Loss of a loved one? Whatever may come…let me be signing.

It’s easy for me to say resolutely, in those far-removed, possible, but less-frequent scenarios “Let me be singing!” But today, the evening really struck me. What does it mean to “Bless the Lord” and have a spirit of gratefulness and joy through those difficult things I encounter day in, day out. What does it look like to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4)?

I don’t know, exactly, but I do know that I need to think about it, to check my attitude, and to be reminded in the middle of the daily (nightly?) grind that I can still sing.

And so, to remind me, I made this:

I put it up on the wall outside the boys’ bedroom.

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me…

Ezra leaving his room for the 34th time…
Haydon telling Ezra to call for Mummy through the vents…
Ezra beside my bed at 1:47am asking for mummy milk…
Haydon yelling from his bed at 2:43am that he’s scared and needs his blankets fixed…

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Let me be singing when the evening comes.

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(Speaking of singing through hard things, my friend Leanne Friesen preached a brilliant sermon at this year’s True City Conference called “Singing Songs in Strange Lands” you should totally click on that and listen to it.)

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Need your own reminder? Click here for a FREE printable PDF!

Something

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On Sunday I had breakfast with our fam at the most glorious discovery of a restaurant/bookshop ever (more on that later) and picked up this lovely little gem of a book that is one of those delicious reads – you know, one in which almost every paragraph you can (and should) stop and suck on for awhile. And then I read this and both talked about how art is something we participate in as servants – that we can be obedient to the art that’s calling us or not, and I just need to start obeying. I feel the call, and my insecurity keeps convincing me that I can’t or shouldn’t, but I just need to, meager as it may be.

So here I am, again. I always hesitate because I feel like I don’t have a polished message. Or, the flipside, like I’m vainly broadcasting a false reality. And then I remind myself that I called this place “Journalling the Journey”  for a reason. Perhaps it’s the equivalent of crayons on the page of a kindergarten notebook, but it’s something. Something.

I just finished scrubbing the kitchen floor, after putting it off for, well, too long. Angry as anything at the crazies that we’d been wrestling (literally and metaphorically) to bed for far too long. I scrubbed (anger seems to help scrubbing), and pondered parenting and villages, after a week on holiday with extended family. Today, my first day back to reality, alone with the boys, and no run, and no shower, and just me to do the 3 meals and the 3 meals worth of dishes. There really is something to be said about community…

Aside from the blood-boiling bedtime, we had a pretty nice day, me and those crazies. Library, lunch with friends (ha! want crazy? 7 children for last minute lunch counts, I think), quiet time, outside time. I filled the kiddie pool and they immediately added mud and what do I care if they’re playing happily? I weeded alongside them, trying to tame our yard-turned-jungle while we were away.

It’s still an overgrown mess. But it’s something. Something.