My church asked me to teach their sex education curriculum. It was difficult to find that fine line between telling too much and telling too little. My two fellow teachers and I laughed with each other over the fiction we were creating that we knew enough about sex to tell others about it. We knew about our own sex lives, childbirth, and all that, but were hardly experts on everybody else’s sex life. “We’re the blind leading the blind,” we joked.
If I had had a class like this when I was a teenager, where I learned not only the sexual nitty gritty, but discussed the ethical and practical issues of dating etc., my life would have unfolded much better than it did, but that is another story.
In one class we showed the students a picture of an older couple lying in bed, the woman’s long white hair down, her head on the man’s shoulder, his arm around her.
“Yech!” said one kid.
“Why do you say ‘Yech’?” I asked.
“That’s, like, my grandmother.” His expression showed disbelief.
“Well, that’s disgusting.”
“Why would you deny your grandparents the comfort of sex?”
The thought had never occurred to him that they might even snuggle like that.
This was a teaching moment if there ever was one, so I offered, “They have lost a lot by their age, and a lot of fears have been introduced into their lives; fears of death, and illness, and the death or illness of people they love. They might need the comfort of sex and affection even more than young people do.”
The young man’s face softened into understanding. He smiled. “Yeah. That’s right.”
Our exchange affected the way he saw his grandparents today, and when he becomes their age, he might very well snuggle his partner warmly, without shame.