Building With Blocks

This morning, in the middle of his math lessons, my son announced that subtraction was easier than addition. He rattled off a few equations to show how simple it was to remove one number from another when you already knew how to add them.

I validated his observation, gently pointing out that precisely because he’d learned addition first, subtraction seemed easy. He got the connection pretty quick.

And that’s a good guide on how to begin teaching kids about sexuality. There’s no need to start at the zygotes-and-intercourse level. It’s building toward that with small blocks to give them a little something more to stand on each time. And it’s never too early to start with small blocks.

For example, I’ve always been a fix-it-myself guy. When I’m showing the boy what I’m doing, I often introduce him to whole new concepts, like pressure, adhesives, and different material strengths. These help one eventually understand how hard to turn a screwdriver, making for fewer mistakes and broken parts.

Since he’s followed me around in diapers, he’s known that in plumbing and fasteners, there are male and female fittings. The male pipe projects, the female fitting receives. They’re made to fit together. (Likewise with bolts and nuts.) So now I don’t have far to go in explaining the penis and vagina.

A Prude would likely have skipped the plumbing lesson, thinking that to obscure the words male and female would fend off awkward questions. Save that for another day, perhaps. Unfortunately, as C. Northcote Parkinson once said, “Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” That deferred day tends never to come, and if it does, it’s a one-off, awkward conversation because we’ve no rapport to build on.

Opportunities to set some building blocks in place already exist, all around us. Who’d a thunk that fixing the sprinkler system together would open the door to sex ed?