Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Novel Approach To Sex Education, And The Reason Why Josh May Have Chosen Film Studies

Honestly, they should make teaching a spectator sport. It'd be so entertaining. Max thinks it's a great idea, too - but only because of what we discover while we're trying to make a democratic family decision about what to watch on TV.

Josh is flicking through all the programmes available on catch-up, none of which appeal to me in the slightest. Which may be because I am in an unaccountably bad mood: something which has nothing whatsoever to do with PMT, despite the looks Max and Josh keep giving each other, and their less-than-oblique references to the subject. Sometimes it's just like living with Richard Keys and Andy Gray.

"Not that," I say, as yet another Skins/Hollyoaks-type programme is highlighted. "Do we have to watch children's television? I am an intelligent adult, though I can't speak for you two."

"How about this, then?" says Josh, giving Max another of those bloody looks. He presses a button on the remote again, and selects The Joy of Teen Sex.

Isn't that just the most pointless programme ever created? Talk about preaching to the converted. Not to mention that I'm pretty sure that teenagers already get more "joy" than anybody else.

"No," I say. "Not that either. For God's sake."

I glare at Josh, who pulls his pseudo-innocent face.

"But, Mum," he says. "It's educational, and you're supposed to be the responsible parent."

Max raises an eyebrow at this implied criticism of his parenting skills, but otherwise stays out of it, as usual. Q.E.D. - so it seems our son can rest that case.

"Somehow, Josh," I say, "I suspect that you've already got a Ph.D in the Joy of Sex. Unlike in Maths, in which even a bloody GCSE would have been nice."

Josh looks outraged, blames the school, and goes on to claim that even the sex education classes were inadequate.

"So what did they involve, then?" I say. "And which of your teachers took the lessons, anyway? I don't think you've ever mentioned them before."

"Lesson," says Josh. "Singular. Taught by Mr Hazeldean."

Max suddenly stops looking at the TV, and re-joins the conversation. I think he's just realised that the programme's on pause.

"Oh, I always liked him," he says. "I wish my teachers had been a bit more like that. He was such a laugh at Parent's Evenings."

"Mainly because he was completely mad," I say. "Which you wouldn't find half as funny if you worked with total lunatics all week. Anyway, don't interrupt. Josh was about to tell us what he learned. Weren't you, Josh?"

I'm expecting Josh to cringe at this idea, which would serve as just retribution for all his sarky comments about PMT but, tragically, he doesn't. Sometimes I am such an idiot.

I've forgotten - again - that, while Max and I both recall our parents' attempts at giving us "the talk about sex" with absolute horror, our kids have no embarrassment threshold whatsoever . Which Greg always ascribes to what he calls Max's and my mad adherence to the Wafty Parent approach, aka treating your children as if they were your best friends. 

So, unencumbered by any sense of awkwardness, Josh launches into an explanation:

"Mr H was late that morning," he says. "Because his car had broken down. I think he said he'd had to poke one of the brake disks or something like that - I can't remember exactly. Anyway, he'd pretty much welded his finger into a stub by the time he arrived at school."

"Did you have any teachers with normal digits left in your school?" I say. (I am, of course, thinking of Mr Thumb.)

"Honestly," says Josh. "You keep going off a tangents, Mum. Do you want me to tell you what happened with Mr Hazeldean or not? "

I nod, though it occurs to me that maybe we should have raised Josh to be a little less assertive. And less impatient. He does a very ostentatious sigh before continuing:

"So, Mr H walked into class, showed us his stub and told us he couldn't stay because he needed to go straight to A&E. Then he put a porno on, and said, 'This is all you need to know.'"

I try not to laugh, while Max doesn't. He cracks up completely, then pulls himself together and says:

"Well, I reckon that was pretty quick thinking in an emergency."

"Well, yes," says Josh. "That's what we thought too. Until we realised that he must have intended to show it to us all along. Seeing as he'd brought it in with him - on VHS."

Max says later that he thinks that this formative experience may account for Josh's subsequent decision to concentrate on Film Studies at A-Level. I say it may also account for his rather Neanderthal attitude to women. And to any fluctuation in their hormone levels.

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