Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sex ed for four year-olds

In the Virgin Megastore at La Defense's large shopping mall (just under the Grande Arche which faces the Arc de Triomphe from the other side of the Avenue Grande Armee), you'll find a large selection of books and multimedia. There's also a journals section which I like to visit to peruse the children's magazines, which are numerous and very good. Most of them are both educational and entertaining, with stories and games. I recently discovered a monthly CD-rom for ages 4-7 called Toboclic. Maylin already has some educational computer games at home, but I personally needed something new. In the latest Toboclic, I found an explanation of where babies come from. Maylin is fascinated by babies, and I was curious what the French take would be like.

Maylin and I tried the CD for the first time the other day with John looking over my shoulder. Keep in mind, the French culture is very thorough when educating their children -- not leaving anything out, even for the youngest of children. Explanation is everything. So the section on the origin of babies was very extensive, but also explicit, which would shock many more conservative Americans. First, there was a childlike drawing of a woman and a man with their sex organs. Then, a perfect cross section of the female and male bodies showing the internal parts necessary for baby-making. An arrow was drawn to show from where to where the sperm travels. Next, an animation of the sperm making their way to the ovaries, the final penetration of the egg, and just about everything that follows -- including the egg implantation in the uterus to the development of the fetus, the ultrasounds in the radiologist's office to the actual labor and delivery (Maylin's favorite part). The narration, done by a woman with a very warm, lilting voice, is comprehensive.

The whole sex education section was carried out quite tastefully, including the delivery, but you did see the mother's bare legs and butt. The baby comes out, is placed on the mother's chest, and begins to nurse! We even get to see Daddy cut the umbilical cord.

I learned a few things about delivering a baby in France. Three ultrasounds per pregnancy is typical (though I have a friend who has had one a month, which reveals how especially cautious some French doctors can be). In the clinic or hospital, the midwife, or "sage-femme," is responsible for the delivery and an obstetrican is only called in for complications. An epidural is the norm.

I think John, Maylin, and I got more than we bargained for, but I think we were all entertained and enlightened. Yesterday, Maylin wanted to "play the baby game" again and she clicked her way through it!

If this CD was available in the States, I'm almost sure they wouldn't show it until middle school or junior high. But in France, ages 4-7 is just fine.

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