That is the question. I have been thinking upon those lines since last Friday.
Following is a conversation I had with the 7 year old kid I babysit, Thomas:
Him: How old are you?
Me: I am 21.
Him: So, are you married?
Me: No, I am not married.
Him: When will you get married?
Me: I really don’t know, sweetie.
Him: 50 days?
Me: Let’s say in 900 days
Him (giggling now): Are you going to do sex when you marry?
Me: What? Where did you learn that word?
It took plenty of coaxing to make him sit with me and talk about this.
Me: So, where did you learn that word?
Him: Mama told me about it.
Me: No, that’s not true! Who told you about this? Did you learn it at school?
Him: No-no-no, not school. I learned it from myself.
Me: You know that’s not possible. Now, you tell me where did you learn it?
Him: My friend told me.
Me: And do you know what sex is?
Him: Ya it puts baby in you. And when you do sex you have no clothes. In sex, Mama touches Daddy’s peepee and Daddy touches that (points to my breast).
Astounding as it was for me, the word precocious falls short in the case.
Pardon me for being orthodox or just being born/brought up in India, but this was NOT acceptable for me. There is an age for everything. Maybe it’s not necessarily as late as 16 but my rational sense denies that 7 is the right age.
Parents are hardly to blame here. They don’t know what the kids are learning at school. And as I just saw the kids are smart enough to know exactly what to keep from their parents.
It is the television and Internet that did this. And it’s simply impossible to keep a kid away from these. From the first day I started babysitting, my basic conditional was, ‘Thomas, if you don’t do so and so, no tv for you today’. They want tv and they do everything they are told for it. How correct bribing a kid this way is, is debatable. Again, you don’t want your kids becoming social misfits by keeping them away from tv, right?
I am no mother and I don’t claim to know if knowing about sex as early as this has any long term adverse effect. But I know one thing for sure – at that age no kid understands that it is just a normal process of life.
And then I see that Thomas explicitly and correctly knew what it is. There is hardly anything wrong in his information which leads me to believe that it might not be a bad thing for him to have his first education of the subject this way. Therefore by pushing him towards secrecy, I wouldn’t want Thomas to inadvertently start believing that sex is a semi-taboo.
But he giggled before he popped the question about sex to me and then consistently dodged my inquiries; it means he KNOWS that he is not supposed to know about this.
Would it have been better if his parents really had told him about it? Maybe he’d be more clear and receptive if he was told about it at home.
Problem lies here: I wish to tell his mother about it. But really is it the right age for his parents to be educating him on sex? Or should I let it be because eventually he might know better?