Talking about Puberty

In New Zealand schools today sex is a subject from year 1 to year 8 (I think?) maybe it’s 9? Yes New Zealand has succumbed to international pressure to organise schools in a more uniform fashion. I think that was a policy of David Lange, former NZ Prime Minister. I don’t approve. I like the old system. New Entrants, Primmers, Standards, Forms. That’s the way it used to be.

When I was at Primary school sex wasn’t taught at all. There was an experiment I think in Form 1 at Parkway Intermediate (middle school, intermediates are still classified as primary schools) to incorporate some sex education, but it was all about girls, it was pretty boring.

My friend Malcolm and I sat at the back of the class chatting about fishing. Until one of the imported tutors mentioned something about sperm. That caught our attention. Mrs Forde at Fernlea School showed us how male frogs spread sperm over the eggs to fertilise them and make new frogs. So this class was about how to make new people.

It went like this, I think it’s about right:

“If the egg is not fertilised by the sperm the egg and the lining are evacuated from the woman’s body.”

Maybe they didn’t use the word ‘evacuated’ but whatever word it was, it meant that.

Malcolm to Graeme “How does the sperm get in there?”

Graeme to Malcolm “I dunno.” shrug shoulders

Malcolm to Graeme “Well, ask them!”

Graeme to Malcolm “You wanna know you ask them.”

Malcolm to Graeme “I’m not asking them, you ask them.”

Graeme to Malcolm “We’ll listen a bit more, they might tell us, we won’t have to ask them.”

Malcolm to Graeme “Good idea.” Thumbs up!

I suppose what Mrs Forde did was like sex education, but she wasn’t a qualified teacher and none of her classes were on the curriculum. She was the last option when it came to finding a teacher for the worst behaving class at Fernlea School. Even the girls were a handful for any normal teacher. We had teachers that stayed for about a week, or less. It was bedlam, and I’m not kidding. I think my last school report from Fernlea School was filled out by 6 different teachers! The Headmaster doesn’t normally take class.

Then these imported tutors went on and on and on and on and on about girl stuff, it was just drivel! There was nothing interesting at all. We could have chatted about fishing the whole lesson and missed nothing, oh except for the sperm remark.

Where does sperm come from?

How does the sperm get into the woman?

You’d think that MIGHT be covered in Sex Education! 😛

Back in Fernlea School when puberty began I was, ‘well endowed.’ That how they say it eh! The boys had competitions to see who had the biggest penis. It was a regular event. There was only two of us who started puberty, that we could see, in our Standard, and I just happened to have more of everything, length, girth and hair. The other boy, Malcolm had no hair. And all the other boys had no development at all, a couple of them didn’t even have a whole penis, they looked weird and they looked like they knew they looked weird. I don’t even know why they joined in, unless it was the same reason I joined in, to see what was happening? They were like my cousins, a striped naked penis at the end of it. I now know that called circumcised. This was sex education, Fernlea School style.

Of course I didn’t know it was called a penis. I didn’t know what balls were called either, or the bag they were in. I had absolutely no knowledge at all, and neither did anybody else in our Standard, or if they did know they weren’t letting on. Apparently it’s up to parents to teach children these basic facts. The names of the body parts. What the hell is difficult about that?

Years later I was chatting to my mother at her house, I was living somewhere in Wellington, she was having some sort of dinner party and I just dropped in, unexpectedly. She seemed happy to see me, the feeling wasn’t mutual. Anyway she was chatting about how she taught us all about sex. What a joke! Anyway it turns out that her plan was to be completely honest. When we asked questions she would answer them truthfully. Then she added, “but Graeme never asked any questions!” Oh shit!

It was always my fault, everything that ever went wrong was my fault. Who was the parent? Who had all the knowledge? Who had nothing? Figure it out this is not difficult. Oh for fucks sake. What about dad? He was never there, he was working, overseas. I have post cards from him instructing me on how to behave. Parenting by postcard! That’s a novel approach. Parents have a lot to do with all this shit you know!

Anyway on with my account, talking about Puberty.

When Malcolm saw I had hair he wanted a closer look. He invited me to go swimming with him one Saturday afternoon when I was out riding my bike. We didn’t have towels or togs, but that was no big deal, that was how we always swam in the local river. I never could quite understand that, at the river we swam naked, but at the pool we had to wear togs, why? In Wainuiomata they were all the same people going to different places. It makes no sense at all. Anyway It was not uncommon for us to swim naked so I had no clue swimming was not the only thing on Malcolm’s mind.

This is when I discovered I did not have the biggest penis, he was impressive. I was ‘gob smacked’ that phrase has nothing to do with oral sex. I was speechless. I had never seen such a big and bald scrotum & penis. He wanted me to masturbate him – of course I had no idea what masturbation was either, well not in words anyway. I knew how to do it I just didn’t know what it was called, and I didn’t know anybody else did it until that moment. Anyway I didn’t masturbate him as a car load of other people arrived at the river, and here was us fully erect trying desperately to get our clothes on before we were seen. It was terrifying.

A short time later, clothed, we met up again, and I said “Do you want me to rub you now?” “Oh no” he said, “I’ve finished.” 😛

At the time I looked like this, facially:


But that was just the first ‘incident’ there were plenty more with other boys, because when it gets out you have hair and nobody else has hair, everybody wants a ‘look see’ when there is no sex education, I think? That’s my theory.

Girls start puberty before boys so they didn’t want to have a look, they knew what pubic hair looked like.

Back to Parkway Intermediate:

At the end of their little talk, that went all afternoon, the imported tutors said “If you have any questions wait here and we’ll answer them.”

There’s our queue, we’ve been waiting all afternoon for this moment, to ask our questions. We agreed that we both put our hands up and the boy who was selected by the imported tutors would be the one to ask the questions. Boys are smart, that was a perfect compromise.

It was like all the girls didn’t hear a bloody thing. Asking about the lining, the egg release, the ovaries, the thinaggmy tubes, there were dozens of them, girls that is. Why did they bother going, don’t they pay attention? I could recite what they were told verbatim almost.

Those imported tutors just didn’t want to let boys ask questions. I had one of them lined up in my sights, I’d made perfect eye contact, she knew I wanted to ask a question, and she picked a girl.

This went on and on and on, with Malcolm too, they would not let us boys ask our questions. It was really frustrating. Totally annoying. Eventually we gave up. So it wasn’t in 1970 we discovered where sperm came from, and how it got into the woman.

There were going to be a few more years of waiting, and if I were fertile, I’d have been a father several times over!