Sunday, July 28, 2013

Talking About Sex

I've mentioned before that this year I have an assignment with the teenagers at church. In Mormon terms, I'm the "young men's president," which means that I'm supposed to be the moral compass to the 12 through 17 year-olds. We're basically exactly like the teacher and students on Glee except we're not absurd and offensive and nonsensical and obnoxious.

Lately, I have to admit, I have found entertainment in the lives of the Mormon teenagers here the same way one might find entertainment in a trashy daytime soap opera. In fact, Daniel and I have been referring to our time with the kids recently as "General Island." Everybody has a crush on everybody else and I seriously cannot wait each week to find out who is sitting next to whom. If I thought it appropriate, I would bring popcorn to church on Sundays and sit on the back row. It's like Friday Night Lights, the island version!

WE DON'T HAVE TV IN PALAU, OK!?

In the Mormon youth organizations there is an emphasis on promoting morally clean lifestyles, which includes encouraging the kids to avoid sex or compromising situations before marriage. The principle behind it all is to teach that we are to respect our bodies and others and that we can avoid unnecessarily complicating our lives by following these simple ideas.

I realized the other day that I have completely neglected to discuss any of this with the boys in the last year because AWKWARD.

But recently I've been feeling a little guilty for not opening the doors of communication on this topic because for all I know some of these kids might really want or need some guidance and they might not know to whom they can turn. And sadly, many of them don't really have responsible family members they can go to.

The problem is, I had no idea how to have a conversation on this topic with the boys. And I certainly wasn't going to revert back to one well-meaning but horribly misguided and ineffective object lesson I saw as a teenager where everyone passed around an unwrapped candy bar and then nobody wanted to eat it because it had been fondled by the entire class. BECAUSE, SEE!? SEX MAKES YOU IRREPARABLY DISGUSTING!

I was determined to have a more healthy conversation and, if nothing else, let everyone know that there was someone in their lives who was there to support and help them.

So it was with that that I finally broached a subject yesterday at church that I will NEVER discuss with ANYONE ever ever ever again!

The following conversation makes more sense when you factor in the language barrier and the general pure innocence of these island boys. Also, I never taught them to call me "Brother Eli." They just started doing that on their own when I got to Palau.

A Conversation with Teenage Boys about Chastity
 
Eli: Ok. So, um . . . who can tell me what . . . "chastity" means?
 
[Cricket. Cricket.]
 
Eli: Not all at once. [Nervous laughter]
 
[Cricket. Cricket.]
 
Eli: Ok. How about we read this paragraph right here and see if that can help us get started.
 
[Paragraph about sex as a "special" and "sacred" thing and the importance of avoiding stuff that cheapens it, like "pornography."]
 
Boy 1: Brother Eli? What is pornomography?
 
Eli: Uh. Ok. Good question. Do any of you guys know what that is?
 
[Nodding in unison]
 
Eli: Ok. What is it?
 
[LONG awkward pause]
 
Boy 2: Is it sexual intercourse?
 
Eli: Well . . . uh . . . not exactly.
 
Boy 3: Brother Eli? What is sexual intercourse?
 
Eli: Ok. Uh . . .
 
Boy 2: Isn't it when you [beep] but not with [beeeeeeeeep]?
 
Eli: Oh my. Uh . . . I hadn't really planned on having this discussion with you today . . . uh . . .
 
Boy 1: Brother Eli? I have a question.
 
Eli: Um . . . ok . . . yes?
 
Boy 1: My friend recently [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] with a girl after he [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] but they [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]. Is that wrong?
 
Eli: [bright red now] WHAT?! I didn't even know that was possible!!! I mean, yes. Or, no. Don't do any of that, ok?
 
Boy 4: Is sexual intercourse how a woman has a baby?
 
Eli: [Looking out into the hallway] Maybe . . . we should find . . . a grownup for this conversation . . .
 
Boy 2: One time I saw on a computer a man and a woman [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] on top of a [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]. Is what they were doing pornomography?
 
Eli: Oh my gosh! You saw that on a computer!?
 
Boy 1: I also saw that at the library on a computer once because someone was looking at a picture of [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep].
 
Boy 5: I saw that too, once.
 
Eli: NOBODY IS GOING TO USE ANY MORE COMPUTERS! Ok?!
 
Boys: Ok.
 
Boy 5: Brother Eli? Do you ever [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]?
 
Eli: Does anyone else think it's really hot in here?
 
Boy 2: Does it have to involve [words I've never even heard of] to be pornomography intercourse?
 
Eli: Seriously? Nobody else thinks it's hot?!
 
Boy 5: Brother Eli? Is [beeeeeeeeeep] the same thing as sexual intercourse?
 
Eli: . . . so I have a candy bar here that I want to pass around. . .
 
~It Just Gets Stranger


41 comments:

  1. Can't . . . breathe . . . laughing . . . so . . . hard . . .

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  2. Poor Brother Eli! I would die of embarrassment if I was a Youth leader with that particular lesson. Then again I pretty much died of embarrassment when I was a youth recieving that lesson. It doesn't sound like the Young Men there have that problem....

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  3. Yup. I haven't laughed this hard in weeks.

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  4. Favorite part: when Eli tried to find a "grownup" to be a part of the conversation. I totally feel this way and I'm in my 30s.

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  5. YOU'RE MAKING ME AWKWARD AND I"M ONLY READING THIS.

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  6. Ha ha ha!!! This is the best!! "Maybe we should find a grownup"?!?! Too funny, Eli. Still giggling...

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  7. Aww, at least they feel comfortable enough with you to ask those questions! That's a good thing!
    Maybe you can try having the conversation again; maybe you'll be a little more prepared this time. But you should probably find a grown-up for back-up.

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  8. I hope you try this again. Maybe bring in Trixy to try and help you explain. Looking forward to a part II of this!

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  9. Absolutely hilarious! I learned a few new things the first time I taught a chastity lesson too.

    And yes I said the first time. Because once they find out you've done it once they assume you're comfortable doing it again.

    Look forward to that. Try the urban dictionary online. It tells you how everything now means sex.

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  10. I envy your innocence. Nobody ever said these things were easy. Good luck, kiddo.

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  11. Hilarious! But seriously, please keep trying to talk to these boys as, clearly, they have no one else who will tell them.

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  12. If your YM leaders were anything like mine, they avoided the discomfort you are experiencing by using 1930s slang. So repeat after me: "You gunsels are gonna want to pitch woo, especially when you're dizzy with a dame." < http://motabenquirer.blogspot.com/2012/03/ywym-leaders-teach-chastity-comfortable.html >

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  13. My husband was a guidance counselor at an all-boys Catholic high school on Staten Island for about eight years, and the kids would always come to him with sex questions because they were too scared to ask the priests. You'd think a teenage boy growing up in one of the five boroughs of New York City would be reasonably well informed...and you'd be wrong. I am fairly certain the questions your kids in Palau asked were identical to the ones my husband's students asked him. It's a good thing he's incapable of being embarrassed, because had it been me, after the first question, I am pretty sure I would have wet myself and run out of the room. Holler, stress incontinence.

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  14. OMYGOSH..so funny. I'm telling you, there are actually tears involved. Love it!

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  15. First, where was Daniel? He totally dropped the ball leaving you alone like that. I would never.

    Second, based on where the conversation started and ended, I think you need to bring this up every time you see these boys until you leave the island in a couple weeks. You have a whole generation to protect because they are not getting it.

    Third, I'd love to see the uncensored version. I could probably learn some things. and laugh a lot more. You're a saint Eli, and your hair looks amazing today. Keep up the good work.

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  16. Funniest blog entry ever. In the history of ever. In the history of blogs.

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  17. I'm glad to know you're broaching this embarrassing subject with them now. My father decided that the right time to have the sex talk was with us four oldest kids all at once, in the same room.

    The day before my younger brother's wedding.

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    1. hahaha that totally sounds like something my dad would do and I'm 30!

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  18. WOW! Thank heaven my boys are still young. I would first try to establish proper terminology vs slang, it lets them know that it's sacred and so are the parts involved. Other than that "Good Luck, Charlie" um I mean Eli.

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  19. Good on you for hating the candy bar metaphor. Also, this is hilarious.

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  20. This is the first time I have ever heard of the candy bar metaphor and it is hilarious!

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    1. Me too, and agreed!

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  21. At least it wasn't gum...ABC gum that got passed around.

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    1. Yes, Diana. The ABC gum analogy is even worse than the candy bar one.

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  22. Are you SURE you're not absurd and offensive and nonsensical and obnoxious? ;)
    This post made me laugh, I'll tell you that.

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  23. This is the FUNNIEST blog post I have EVER read!

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  24. Can't...stop....laughing......Dear Brother Eli, you are a riot! :D

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  25. LOVE that the boys refer to it as "pornomography!"

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  26. Ha haha! Eli, I absolutely LOVE reading your post. I wanted to comment on a serious note... if you need help having the "TALK" with these youth, you can always get into contact with LDS Family Services. There are trained Licensed Clinical Counselors on board that will help you FOR FREE over the phone. They might even have some power points to share with you and help you through that.

    I don't want to publish those phone numbers right here on this blog, on lds.org, there are some Priesthood training resources. Within that info is the Priesthood consultation phone number. As the YM pres, you are privy to that.

    I don't know how I would personally handle that situation... it's difficult. I too had the "passed around candy bar" speech and an awkward Sex Ed Talk at school. Other than that, I learned everything I know about sex from listing to Sex Chat with Dr. Ruth on Sunday nights at 11 p.m.

    I listened under my pillow for years :) HA HA HA

    Anyway, I really wish someone would have talked to me about "APPROPRIATE" vs. "NON APPROPRIATE" instead of making me feel bad about natural feelings. Never "sinned" so to speak, but it's taken years to overcome the filthy feeling that never should have been there in the first place!

    Keep the faith!

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  27. Not that I have that many occasions to, but I'm totally going to start calling it "pornogomography."

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  28. "Pornomography intercourse" is my new favorite combination of words.

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  29. This seems like an appropriate video follow-up:
    http://laughingsquid.com/porn-sex-vs-real-sex-the-differences-explained-with-food/
    "In the video “Porn Sex vs Real Sex,” New York City-based production company KB Creative Lab uses fruit, vegetables, and other food to amusingly explain the many differences between sex in real life and sex in pornography. "

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  30. This is exactly why, when my FIVE year old asked me how babies are made I straight up told him. Occasionally I will ask him if he has any questions and he's all like "nope, I'm fine, no thank you".

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  31. My parents avoided this subject when I was growing up. I avoided the classes they taught in elementary school. I think my parents and I had this mutual understanding of just letting my friends informing me. Sex ed was the worst, most awkward thing to ever exist.

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  32. Oh my. And I thought teaching that lesson to 12-year-old girls was awkward!

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  33. They totally would have gotten it if you had pulled out a guitar and all started singing in harmony together, maybe with some dancing on the side. ...most songs today tell it all anyway.

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  34. Oficially the best post now! I'm trying so hard to not laugh out loud!

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  35. how did I miss this one?? I'm working on my Master's in Counseling with an emphasis on sex ed and sex therapy. this is the best conversation I've heard about sex in a year. keep up the good work, Sex Ed Teacher Eli.

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  36. Remember when you FORGOT to have this talk with me before I got married? Hello! Number one Man of Honor job! Look where that got me! ;)

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