My eighteen little Kindergarteners, with eyes pulled wide, listened in silence as I tread lightly through the renowned book “Boys, Girls & Body Scientists,” by Meg Hickling. It was highly recommended by Saleema Noon, Vancouver’s top sexual health educator.
I must admit, I winced a few times, with sentences such as, “The interesting science is that the father can only do this (use his penis to put the sperm cells into the vagina) when his penis gets erect, meaning it grows longer and becomes stiff.” I smiled and moved along, discussing only the questions they had for me.
A few minutes later, my little Anna decided to interrupt my discomfort with clarity and focus. “How does the penis get INTO the vagina?”
“Well, the father puts his penis into the mother’s vagina. This is so the sperm cells made in the testicles can connect with the ovum from the mother’s ovary.” What else could I say? I continued on, when again, she interrupted with a louder, more concise question.
“HOW DOES THE PENIS GET INTO THE VAGINA?” I glanced at my teaching assistant, who was quietly snickering across the classroom. She decided to move a little closer to me now so she could get a good seat for what was to come.
I wasn’t sure I knew what Anna was struggling with. I sat quiet for a moment to give the question some thought before answering, but quickly got interrupted again. “I DON’T UNDERSTAND MISS LAUREN. HOW DOES THE PENIS GET INTO THE VAGINA?” Her colleagues weren’t helping either, giving her a similar scenario as I had with no success.
Then it dawned on me. Anna is such a strategic and philosophical thinker in her approach to absolutely everything she does on in the classroom. She’s the ‘mechanics’ type, someone who needs to know the process in a logical, step-by-step manner. Now in desperation, I jumped up, walked to the sensorial shelf and took a set of the knobbed cylinders. I brought it to the circle and the children watched as I pulled one of the cylinders out and put it back in…explaining that its like the father’s penis going into the mother’s vaginal opening.
I saw Anna’s face exhale with utter relief, as though she was finally taking that breath of air into her lungs once again. I breathed too. Thank goodness…not only for my sake, but especially for her dear father, as mom had just given birth to a new baby brother a few months ago. Anna finally got the answer her logical mind was craving.
As for my teaching assistant, sex and knobbed cylinders became the big laugh in the staff room that day. Thank you Maria Montessori for the ingenius and multifaceted material we have in our classrooms!