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How A Sex Joke I Heard On My 10-Year-Old’s Field Trip Led Us To Talk About Porn

Jul 8, 2019

Have you ever been on a field trip with your child’s class? It’s fun when they’re little, isn’t it? The world is a place full of discovery and wonder, where they want to show you every single thing that they find fascinating, including a squirmy worm.

As they get into the tween years, there’s a bit of a shift in attitude. Their peer groups become their new focus, and you end up getting hissed at to sit at the front of the bus with the other parents, nowhere near your dearest darling. That’s fine. It’s all part of growing up, for both of you.

I’m not sure I knew the meaning of what Sheila said until I was well into my late teens! But the times they are a’changing.

But how would you feel if, when you were getting off the bus just behind your daughter and some of her friends, you caught this gem of an exchange between one of the other girls, whom we’ll call Sheila, and a boy we’ll call Jim:

“Hey Sheila, you’re a dork!”
“Hey Jim, you suck!”
“Yeah? Well, you swallow!”

At that, I almost tripped down the stairs of the big yellow school bus, my mouth hanging open. Had I heard that correctly? My daughter Nikki turned to look back at me, eyes wide, shaking her head with her silent but sincere plea that I not get involved. She knows me too well.


Related Reading: What We’re Telling Our Kids About Pleasure


I whispered to her, asking if she knew what Sheila meant. She shrugged and said: “Of course! Who doesn’t?”

Let me just clarify for you that Nikki is only 10 years old. I’m not sure I knew the meaning of what Sheila said until I was well into my late teens! But the times they are a’changing. I checked in with Nikki when we got home that afternoon, just to make sure she REALLY understood what "you swallow" means. She did.

At first, I was just surprised, and more than a little confused. Then, I did the denial thing for an hour, all the while hiding under my comforter. Then it dawned on me. HOW did Nikki know what that meant? She’s definitely precocious and we’ve had many conversations about sexual identity, sex and relationships — among other topics.

But how did we go from learning about bodies, puberty, sexuality and expressions of love to 'you swallow'?

We talked a lot particularly after multiple viewings of shows like One Day at a Time, where one of the main characters comes out to her parents at 15, with the dad not taking the news well at all. And certainly, the health classes in school this year fueled more questions, as they should. But how did we go from learning about bodies, puberty, sexuality and expressions of love to “you swallow”?

I guess she figured that I was going to ask this all important question because during our nightly snuggles before bed, she offered up this tidbit: that she had seen a video at a friend’s house and they had discussed it at length on the playground. Yes, that kind of video.

I asked some of my friends about this in a private Facebook group of moms — slightly worried that Nikki might know too much — and the overwhelming response was that I should be proud of my relationship with Nikki. Obviously, she felt safe enough to freely admit what she had done. As I said, we’ve talked about gender identity, periods, body image and sex. We’ve talked about all of these things because I wanted to get ahead of the schoolyard chatter. It never occurred to me to discuss porn. I don’t even know how I would have started that conversation!


Related Reading: It’s Not A Sex-Ed Curriculum, It’s A Health Curriculum, And Our Kids Need It


But once it was out there, and she had an albeit skewed image of some of the acts we had discussed hypothetically and without the help of visual aids, we talked some more. A lot more. We talked abut how those images and videos aren’t realistic; about how sex and love are not synonymous, but nor should either concept be taken lightly; about how she’s too young to even worry about sex, let alone engage in it.

Her taking this video at face value showed me that all the arguments conservative thinkers have made about sexual education conversations needing to happen exclusively in the home are ridiculous. Why? I have a solid, open communication relationship with my daughter, something many kids and parents don’t have, and despite this, her first stop on the sex-ed express was a porn video that she took as being an accurate portrayal of her future.

We talked and talked until she finally said, "OK, mom. I get it. I don’t want to worry about any of this for a really long time, anyway.” I was relieved but still a little apprehensive. Then she added: “Can I have more time on my Switch to play Fortnite?” I breathed a little deeper. That was a battle for another day.

Article Author Chantal Saville
Chantal Saville

Chantal Saville is, among other things, the chief wordsmith at Content Ghost. When not writing in her phantasmagorical voice, she is also a mother and a daughter. Usually in that order. Sometimes not.

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