Just Watching

Since my previous post, Marylee and I have shared a few interesting experiences. At the Burnaby Public Library I saw her talk about "Life from the Land". Then came Balcony Tales by Helle Windeløv-Lidzélius. Marylee saw it in DOXA. Anat and I watched it at home. Birders: The Central Park Effect by Jeffrey Kimball made me take the DVD from the library and have a home screening for the lot of us, Marylee, Anat, Inbal and I.
Our day in North Vancouver. Monday, May 18th 2015
Monday, May 18th was a bright, partly cloudy day. Inbal was handed a spare pair of binoculars and we headed towards a small pond where the ducks were doing their job caring for a bunch of ducklings that were past the chick stage. It is truly magical to watch the view magnified several times through the binoculars. It's not a bad idea to remind a ten year old about some safety issues such as removing the binoculars from the eye while walking and such.
Heron waiting patiently for its catch.
Between the four locations marked on the map there was much walking and watching. We didn't return home as fanatic birders but the fun of watching birds and hearing stories about them will stay with us. One of the highlights was the reminder that birds are everywhere in the city. Marylee wanted to show us a hanging nest she's seen the other day on 5th. When we got there she realized that the tree must be a block or two away. But then Inbal noticed another hanging nest on a tree beside us. We got there just as the parents were feeding their chicks, which were probably just a little more excited to be fed than us observing the excitement.
Robin pecking the grounds at Harbourside.

Still, the presence of humans in the environment and their influence on it always raise the awareness of the challenges wildlife face in their survival. Our own passive form of watching movies about nature and wildlife is just one step in caring for a balance in ecosystems. Some of the Central Park birders of New York express an awareness to how bizarre they might look to "outsiders". I think we should keep in mind that there would always be someone watching us and considering to join. This is the audience that should interest me. The engagement with uninterested people can come in other ways.
Pigeon Gillemot on its way from one side of the pier to the other.

Urban wildlife flock to the city because of the opportunities to feed, breed and have shelter. Our ways of building and maintaining the city are not geared towards the well being of wildlife. And yet there are many who find the benefits of our systems. Observation, one of humans' core skills responsible for the achievements of our society allows us to notice the effect of our environment on the one we grew out of.
Bushtit rushing away to find more food.

It always intrigues me to find connections. From the walks with Marylee I am reconnected to the discussion of wildlife in urban settings. Our discussion waves through endless other topics that allow me to weave another set of thoughts into the quilt of a larger story. And it doesn't end there. What remains is a fleeting moment of beauty.


Talking about sex and sexuality in school and at home

I grew up sensing that sex is not a topic of discussion. A tension between fascination and secrecy surrounded any mention of words related to sex. More than shame, embarrassment was the basic reaction I remember noticing around me. You just don't talk about it.

When I was in grade 4 the nurse came to talk with us about puberty. The most that she managed was to ask the class to be quiet and listen. The content of her talk has never registered in my memory. Kids around me were giggling and poking each other. I remember myself as a naive and curious boy. I wanted to hear a bit about this process that I already started to feel happening in me. The nurse never covered any topic of significance. If anything, she might have been just as nervous as the rest of my class.

My only claim to knowing better than when I was in grade 4 is having a grade 5 daughter. When she told me about the nurse that was about to talk with them about puberty, I thought "What is it about that poor nurse having to talk with kids in school about sex?".

There seems to be a social cloudiness surrounding issues of body, sex and sexuality. Talking about our intimate body areas involves … intimacy; the emotional journey our kids are going through or are about to go through is different with every kid and family; the availability of information today is both a blessing and a risk. In light of the layered difficulties surrounding the topic, the formal delivery of education relating to sex and sexuality is probably not enough. It's not that I have anything against the nurse talking with kids about puberty. From the handout I saw, it all looked pretty useful.

Then it struck me. Sex is fun. Sexuality is all about life. The school nurse usually deals with injuries and emergency. This ties too well with the apparent difficulty we have in society to discuss the intimate issues of life. I think we are capable of delivering a much more positive message to the audience we care most about.

We don't have to force that message upon them. Usually kids don't talk or don't want to talk much about what's going on in school. But when they do try to engage in conversation it looks to me like a good idea to be prepared. A workshop with a professional sex educator is one way of having a healthy discussion that can also be fun. We all have different ways of raising kids. We all have questions and advice. But when it comes to sex, a professional educator can help in dissolving the cloud surrounding this topic. The workshop is a stepping stone in a journey that can be exploratory yet safe.

How much practice does any of us have in life to talk about sex in a serious yet fun way? A sex educator has exposure to the experiences of many people. This exposure allows for uniquely individual questions to be addressed based on the wealth of a broad reference.

As I was thinking of raising the issue at our PAC meeting, a quick search resulted in a variety of options. There are many books out there and also web pages that provide reviews of such books. When I typed 'sex educators BC' I didn't have to sift through endless porn sites as I had anticipated.  But then, as the days went by, "my topic" became a news item. One weekend I read an article by an awarded journalist. The next weekend covered the Ontario clash around the new Sex Ed curriculum.

Here in BC, there are already calls to revisit and possibly review it. But until that happens, parents of kids who are currently in elementary school need more immediate solutions. We can employ available resources as a group for the benefit of our own family as well as society at large.

Instead of worrying, I observe life as it presents itself to me. My own past is merely a reference point. When it comes to providing a healthy launching pad for my daughter, my observations turn into insights and guidance. Our school and its PAC provide an extended opportunity to nurture a broader connection. That connection itself provides the base for the healthy sex ed we are all hoping for. 

The books we have at home:

From the Media:
Why improve rant (Elizabeth Renzetti)
My sexual education (Sierra Skye Gemma)

Ontario Sex Ed (Globe&Mail Editorial)
Comparison between provinces (Global News)
Improve teache training (Globe&Mail)

Videos for discussion at a future PAC meeting:
Marnie Goldenberg (< Click to reach website):

Saleema Noon (< Click to reach website):