Scene: North Junior High School, DeKalb, Illinois, circa 1969. I’m 11 years old and attending sixth grade. Several of us are milling about in an otherwise empty classroom, waiting for the teacher to come, when a kid in my class screams out the f-word for some reason. Being the Mormon goody-two-shoes that I was, I quickly admonish him not to use such language, adding as a toss-away after thought, “Besides, that word doesn’t even mean anything!” He looked at me kind of funny for a moment, and then he broke out laughing. He proceeded to tell me not only does the word have a meaning, he explained to me exactly what it was. Shocked, I assured him my parents would never do such a thing! But it didn’t take very much playground research to discover that, crass as he was about it, my acquaintance had been right, and I had now been enlightened as to this basic fact of life.
I was obviously a little bit late to the party in learning this, and I’ve always wondered whether my Mormon upbringing somehow played a role in my delayed illumination.
Anyway, I’m curious about your experiences. How old were you when you learned the facts of life? How did you make the discovery? Did your parents sit down with you and “have the talk,” or did you learn on the streets as it were as I did? Was this traumatizing to you, or did you take it in stride? Did the way you learned influence how you resolved to treat this issue with your own children? Have any of you as parents “had the talk,” and if so, what was the result? Was it awkward, or did it go ok? Did or does Mormonism have a role to play in this rite of passage, or are we pretty much like everyone else in this sphere?