There were many great things about being school nurse at Price Lab—well trained, motivated, caring faculty and administration, student teachers and classroom assistants who were part of the College of Education at UNI, a broad age range of students from pre-kindergarten through senior high, diversity in socio-economic and racial backgrounds, and for me. . .being welcomed into classrooms to teach health related topics.
As you might imagine, Sex Education was one of the topics I taught. As you might also imagine, from those classes I gathered many a tale and will share some of those in the weeks ahead. The classes I taught at the 4th and 5th grade levels were continued in 7th grade. I guess if I were speaking educational language I would say it was “vertically integrated curriculum.” (Is that correct, teachers?) Anyway, my story today comes from the first of twelve sessions I had each September with the 7th graders as a part of their health classes.
I stood before 20 some students, many of whom looked embarrassed already. I told them I knew they were uncomfortable with the topic and in their discomfort they might feel like laughing when they heard words they were unaccustomed to hearing in a classroom.
The first order of business was to tell them I expected them to be the mature students I knew them to be. Any laughter was going to be done in the first few minutes. Then, I would expect them to treat the topic with the seriousness I knew they could show.
I proceeded to hand out the schedule of topics for the next eleven sessions. I read the schedule, including the anatomical vocabulary on the sheet. The anticipated giggles occurred and at some point I told them the time for giggles was over. It remained quiet as we finished up. Once again I said I knew they would give this topic its deserved SERIOUS attention. The class ended and they filed out (I am sure many giggling once they reached the hallway).
From the back of the room came Jim, a small (could he really be in 7th grade?) lad with large round glasses. He walked up to me with his clipboard in hand, glanced down at the schedule he had placed there, looked up at me with all SERIOUSNESS in his big dark eyes, and asked, “Now do I have this right, Nurse Flemr? I am going to have sex with you every Tuesday and Thursday from now until Christmas?”
I bit the inside of my mouth as I nodded my head and said, “Yes, Jim, that is right.” He said “thanks” and left.
I actually made it back to the health office bathroom before I let my laughter out! And then I reflected upon the precious innocence of a child trying to be serious and responsible!