Parents, start with simple nudity and cuddly care

Can I help?
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The Independent Online
Personally, I thought the idea of a "Kissing Kit" for kids was totally brilliant. You must have read about them. The kits - sold to raise money for Comic Relief - have a "snog log" in which the kids write down who they kissed. My own two kids, Timon and Esme, brought two along to my clinic as aids for their first Sex Education session.

I've always struggled to prevent my kids from developing typically Western hang-ups about sex. I strongly believe Sex Education starts with Parents' own sensuality. My life-partner Chris and I make it very clear that we like the sight, smell and feel of our bodies. Since he's been away in Namibia, Chris has developed a fuller figure and more robust breath, but I'm careful to present these in a positive light by making Sensually Appreciative Noises outside the children's door.

Me: "You have a generous, cuddly physique, Chris. Bodily odours are fragrant in a natural way."

Me (since Chris has started sleeping on the sofa downstairs I've had to play both roles): "Penny, you are in every way a fragrant woman."

Me: "Yes, we've never been more together."

As a family we've always enjoyed tender touching and Cuddly Care. But I'm a little wary of touching Timon since he bit me and recently Esme has become assertive about her individuality.

Esme: "Go away, Mum. You smell."

Mum: "Didn't you hear a voice sounding like Chris's saying how fragrant I was?"

Nudity is not something we in the Sinclair household worry about. I'm all for Chris taking a nude turn around the house after his bath, as long as he has a towel over his "problem"areas. I'm quite happy for Esme to use the shower directly after Chris has finished. Timon has occasionally seen me in the bath, though with strategically placed bubbles of course.

As a childcare professional I know that at the age of three girls start wondering why they haven't got penises. I've caught Esme looking at herself naked in the bathroom mirror. Did I detect a look of sadness for what was absent? Timon has developed a hatred for girls: I believe this is because he thinks girls are boys who have been punished and lost their penises.

It is important to talk this one through. By the way, mums, never belittle genitals by referring to them as anything other than "penises" and "vaginas":

Mum: "Esme, sometimes girls have scary thoughts when they see they haven't got a penis. Do you wonder about that?"

Esme: "I want a Mars Bar."

Mum: "Tim, sometimes boys get scared when they see girls don't have penises. Do you wonder about that?"

Timon: "I hate girls."

Mum: "You have a penis, you are a boy. When you grow up, you will be a father if you wish. Esme you are a girl. You have a vagina. When you grow up you will be a mother if you wish. I'm glad you have both noticed that boys are made one way and girls another. Tomorrow we will watch 91/2 Weeks together."

Esme became interested in Sex Play at a very early age. I found her, aged two, tearing a little boy's socks off. I simply explained to her, in a firm but soothing voice, what seduction was, and that it was totally OK, indeed admirable, for the woman to take the initiative. I'm afraid Chris was unable to take it so calmly. As Esme's father he had been her First Love; he now exhibited classic signs of rejection.

Mum: "Esme, you are indulging in Sex Play because you are interested in the differences between you and Tom."

Esme: "I want an Aero."

Chris: "Get that boy out of the house and stop him abusing my daughter."

Mum: "Are you trying to undermine me again, Chris?"

Esme: "Why can't I have an Aero?"

Chris delayed his return to Namibia in order that we could enjoy our Sex Education session as a family. As soon as we sat down I handed the anatomically correct doll to Timon so he could enjoy some Direct Experience with a woman's body. I'm afraid the doll's head came off on his hands and Chris was not very positive.

Chris: "You're naughty and destructive."

Mum: "You never think of others when you say things like that. Now I have to think of six positive adjectives for Timon to counter your two negative ones."

Chris: "Let's just get on with it."

Esme: "What means S-N-O-G?"

Chris: "It's a filthy word."

Mum: "It's a youthful word for Tender Touching."

Timon mistakenly broke the doll's legs while he was trying to have Empathetic Experience of childbirth. But I instinctively knew the session had been a great success when Chris felt secure enough in himself to move out and stay with his mum until his return to Namibia.