Fears of a dimwitted childhood

Country Roads

I fear I may have been a dimwitted child.

Let me explain: Julie and I are looking forward to another granddaughter. Her daughter and son-in-law in Arizona are expecting their second child in February.

Their son is two; he’ll be three in March. He’s a charming and precocious little guy and is looking forward to a baby sister. He knows that a baby is coming and right now the baby is in Mommy’s tummy.

I’m pleased that our grandson is so well informed at his tender age, and that’s why I fear I had an intellectually deprived childhood. At his age (and older) I had absolutely no knowledge of where my siblings came from or the fact that they had been hanging around nine months before birth.

I am the oldest of six and can remember when each of my siblings joined our family. With my three brothers I only knew our mother had to go to the hospital to get them. Somehow, I assumed, angels brought babies from heaven to the hospital and mothers went there to pick them up.

My first sister arrived when I was 11 years old. By then I had figured out some elements of procreation and had given up on the “angels from heaven” theory. I was nearly 14 when my baby sister was born and by then I had basic (theoretical) knowledge of such things.

Actually, I was told how babies are made when I was six-years-old but I was so flabbergasted by the details it just didn’t make sense. My cousin, Loren, who is about 18-months older than I, provided the particulars.

In retrospect, his explanation had some elements of accuracy. Loren and I did not yet have sisters so some of the anatomical specifics were distorted.

Public schools did not offer sex education when I was a kid. During eighth grade the girls in our class were herded into the science room one day and given the “monthly visitor” talk. We boys were not supposed to know what the meeting was about but we had ways of finding out.

While we boys felt confident in our knowledge, my friends and I were disappointed we didn’t get at least a fact-checking session.

The year I was a sophomore in high school I missed a day because of illness. The next day I learned that during my absence assemblies were held ̶ morning for the guys; afternoon for the gals. During those assemblies a speaker talked about sex.

Wouldn’t you know it ̶ I miss a day of school and that’s they day they talk about sex.

Because our school offered no regular sex ed classes and because most parents in those days did not discuss such matters with their children, we were left to the mercy of the streets where most of us had sources of information.

In my case, I had two excellent sources ̶ my cousin, Loren, (mentioned above) and my cousin, Kenny, who was three years my senior. These cousins lived an hour away and whenever we got together we sequestered ourselves from the adults and shared all we knew. Being the youngest, I was all-ears. I don’t recall contributing much to the discussions other than exclaiming “golly” and “you’re kidding me” at appropriate times.

On one occasion Loren volunteered to ask his father about sex. The next time we got together Kenny and I pressed him for what he had learned. Loren said he asked his dad the big question but all Uncle Irvin said was, “Keep your zipper up and you won’t get into trouble.”

We laughed at Uncle Irvin’s seeming cop out but it didn’t take too many years for us to understand that his response was actually excellent advice.

Over the years, when reading about the messes resulting from sexual impropriety, I have thought, “Too bad they didn’t know Uncle Irvin.”

So here it is six decades later. Kenny, Loren and I are old retired guys who know quite a bit about making babies but no one asks us for advice. And two-year-olds know more about where babies come from than I did until I was much, much older.

I fear I may have been a dimwitted child.


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