Best go through puberty on a Tuesday

The Boys


As Wordsworth lamented, doubtless about Mondays, “the world is too much with us” and on the first day of the week he’s right. Thursday and Friday are too frivolous for these matters, and Wednesday, at least in my house, belongs to Micallef and Mad as Hell.


After deep introspection I choose Tuesday night, and Tuesday night it is.


Formerly, if somewhat brazenly called Sex Ed, the evening session of Growth and Development for children and parents begins at our primary school.


Looking about from the back row I see Max’s soccer coach and his son, our neighbour and his lad, and other slightly uncomfortable children and their significantly more uncomfortable mums and dads. Alex tells me he helped put out the chairs. We’re in the school gym. While it’s a place of fun and games I wonder about the kids for whom sport means humiliation and tears.


As such tonight’s about puberty.


The presenter is sunny and welcoming and she has a PowerPoint with amusing cartoons including the compulsory picture of a boy at his local pool on the diving board. It’s obvious to the world that he finds particular physical pleasure in wearing Tony Abbott swimwear.


We discuss a diagram of the female genitalia and use a glossary to identify what’s what. Working through the list our leader says, “Can anyone tell me another word for labia?”


One eager boy blurts, “Pecker!”


We then had the legislated vulva and Swedish car joke which always goes down well, especially on a warm Tuesday night in a beachside suburb.


Moving to the male anatomy chart the cheerful host pauses at scrotum, as we all do, and asks for alternate names.


“Ball sack,” yells a small boy up the front of the gym.


A disembodied, pre-pubescent voice squeaks, “Nut sack.”


“Good, good,” replies our expert and then in a synonymic surprise she chirps, “Now does anyone here call it a Santa sack?”


There’s much roaring from the floor. Alex and Max jump and dance in their chairs. Your correspondent guffaws.


I then find myself contemplating Vas Deferens, and wondering if as well as starring in the Male Reproductive League (MRL) he was a footballer in the 1970s. I can hear Rex Hunt calling, “Vas Deferens collects the air conveyance, breaks a tackle and goes looooong!”


What characterised his career? Impressive clearances (of course) and dour defence, but he couldn’t lock down a spot with Carlton, so moved to South Adelaide in the SANFL, played one hundred serviceable games and now runs a pizza bar at Port Noarlunga where among older footy fans he enjoys a cult following. To this day not even his closest mates call him “VD.”


Our host subsequently speaks of each male producing 30 to 250 million sperm per millilitre of semen and I feel proudly productive, if suddenly tired.


The PowerPoint then shows a teenager mid-wet dream and I’m sure the dads in the gym become distantly nostalgic although no knowing nods are exchanged among us in the back row.


Our final topic is on being kind to yourself through the challenges of puberty. We’re reminded that being a loyal friend is far more important than any temporary looks, and how we should think of the things we’re good at like caring for others or reading or helping at home.


She then asks us to be glad for other blessings, and I lean in to Alex, newly twelve and veering between young man and innocent boy and whisper, “I know you and Max are grateful for Dad’s tremendous comedy” and he punches me on the thigh with affection and I feel pleased for this tiny moment.


Walking home I’m keen to talk about our evening, but excited and with pent-up energy, the boys run and wrestle and bounce along the footpath like an enthused epididymis and I don’t mind. They’re busy being kids.


We’ll speak of sperm and scrotums in the morning. Or not.


There’ll be time next Monday.




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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Things have certainly changed from my primary school days! All I got was a booklet that mum had discreetly placed at the end of my bed. She had been to a session for parents at school (no kids!) where it was all explained. It was all in the book she was told, and the book I received. I was thoroughly puzzled by it all, its technical terms baffled me, the print was very small (so prying sister’s eyes couldn’t read over your shoulder!) and difficult to read. What it was all about I had no idea. Surprisingly, walking to school next day with my mates, I discovered they’d all received the same booklet! “What’s it all about?” we asked. A few shakes of the head then it was onto footy chat! Ripper Mickey!

  2. Any talk of the Squirrel Grip? The Hopoate Hole/Hold? Send the lads to St Kevins for a more rounded education. Great stuff. My sex education was much like Col’s. Boy Scouts. Girl Guides.

  3. Thanks Colin. I’ll get in now and mention the classic picture book, “Where Did I Come From?” which must’ve been printed in the millions. Lots of conversations to follow in our house!

  4. Love it MIckey.

  5. Life keeps running away from us Mickey. Beautiful moments.

    *punches you in the thigh with affection*

  6. PB- I reckon St Trinians a better bet.

    Thanks JTH.

    Er- “So we beat on, boats against the current…”

  7. Trust you to be sitting in the back row, Mickey!

  8. John Butler says

    I thought Back Row Mickey was his name?

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I already knew all of the proper names of all of the boy and girl bits when I rocked up to a similar talk around 1970. Didn’t help me a bit Mickey.

  10. roger lowrey says

    Priceless as usual Mickey.

    I trust they also ran Monty Python’s “every sperm is sacred” line just for balanced reporting.


  11. Gee I can hardly remember Mickey!! But one thing I do remember is that between the end of grade 5 and the start of grade 6 the girls seemed to transform. The boys were still just skinny kids playing footy and cricket. One girl in particular (a voluptuous, black-haired young lass of Spanish heritage) returned to school in grade 6 with these shapely lumps protruding from under the front of her dress. I knew they were good but I wasn’t sure why.

  12. Love it Mickey, interesting times hey – new territory for me as well …sounds like your “tremendous comedy” is about as much appreciated as mine. It’s impossible for a dad to be funny, once your kids hit 11 or 12. You could be Charlie Chaplin and it still wouldn’t matter.

  13. Thanks to everyone for reading and responding. It was a fun night and I caught my breath thinking how did we get to the cusp of puberty?

    Dips- I think the common experience is that one day the opposite sex is there just like furniture and then overnight they transmogrify and life is changed forever.

  14. Jezz MR, first we have DW discussing “testicle-swinging comrades” and now you on about “Santa sacks” and I don’t know if I’m on the FA site or reading the old Truth newspaper. I’m just a bit flustered, if you don’t mind!

    Love yer perspective and yer honesty. And most definitely, your humour. It seems something was left out of that most illuminating Tuesday evening school forum. That is the bridge from one age to the next. What Little Elvis describes in his song, Pump It Up. Or what Bruce describes in one line in, er, Blinded By the Light (“As the adolescent pumps his way into his hat”). That bridge. And what a glorious bridge it is or was. If you are watching Sex Education on Netflix, Episode 1, Season 2 is all about that.


  15. Thanks Rick. Sex, love and music invariably gets me thinking of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” and its protagonist. He says, “It’s no wonder we’re all such a mess, is it? We’re like Tom Hanks in Big. Little boys and girls trapped in adult bodies and forced to get on with it.”

    Great observations about musical and chronological bridges. Cheers.

  16. Hey I am back, have had email problems
    Mickey I love this story. The presenter was obviously a wise choice and your humour made me laugh out loud … VD Hahaha

  17. Good to see you back here, Thea.

    While not a natural, the presenter knew her stuff and was sympathetic to her audience and what lay ahead. That’s a pretty good start!


  18. Welcome back Thea! And did you get the e-newsletter? Go Cats.

  19. Luke Reynolds says

    Love the humour in this Mickey. My boys are of a very close age to yours so this was a timely piece for me to read!

  20. Thanks Luke. I wish us both well. Leaving for separate camps this morning – and I apologise for the base level of this – the boys boisterously exchanged what I later learnt are called sack taps. I’m entering a world both disarmingly familiar and inescapably alien.

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