THE younger lad asked a startling question about his body today. The good woman was home alone with him, and didn't really know how to answer.
The body parts I refer to are the dangling bits that every male has, but few of us feel comfortable talking about; on-the-spot christening of them is far from easy. I told her that telling him what they are called is not going to be the most difficult part; just wait till he asks what they are used for.
Parents (and particularly Irish ones) have traditionally been left with reddened faces when it comes to having 'the chat' with their offspring. And it works vice versa. Putting the discussion on the long finger, however, can often result in it being too late.
Usually by the time parents sit them down to explain what can sometimes transpire after a Friday night bottle of wine or two and during a particularly tedious Late Late Show programme, the horse has bolted. Once Junior has reached the age of ten, he has probably heard all he needs to know from his mates in school, and that's what makes the whole 'big talk' experience more cringeworthy for them.
Thankfully, times are changing, and the responsibility for making such embarrassing revelations is being gradually shifted away from the parents.
I read a newspaper article with interest this week in which it explained how sexual issues are being taught in Irish schools. I suppose any parent that doesn't feel comfortable with someone they don't know too well explaining the ins and outs of reproduction to their child has to decide if they are prepared to deliver the lecture themselves.
Back in 2001, I was teaching Fifth and Sixth Class pupils in a school in Clondalkin when the principal called me one morning and asked if I had any problem giving the class 'the chat'. 'Oh Lord,' I thought, but nodded assuredly.
The class went fine. Some of the more streetwise kids were naturally a little embarrassed, while the remainder of them looked at me blankly, and the innocence reassured me that the lifeline of a childhood can still stretch beyond Fourth Class. However, the older this world gets, the greater the fight innocence has against time. It is comforting, therefore, to think that our young ones are picking up a balanced version of the Facts of Life from a trusted source when they reach the appropriate age.