Symphony 123

When it was over, Fiona said, “I will take any questions, or you can direct your questions to Mr. McCrae. Also, just in case anyone is too shy to ask their questions out loud, you can write your questions on these pieces of paper and hand them in anonymously.”

It got very quiet in the room. For the first time since the film began, the girls began looking sideways at Neil. He would have given a hundred dollars to be someplace else, but if he let himself look embarrassed, the girls would surely be, so he kept his face expressionless. It was a major struggle.

No girl spoke, but several were writing questions on paper. Before the matter had gone past bearing, the first written questions began to come in. As soon as Fiona began answering them, the tension eased.

The questions were mostly about menstruation and period hygiene. Fiona answered fully and without hesitation. That put them at ease, and other questions began to flow in. Soon they were coming faster than she could answer them. Most were written, but a few were beginning to ask questions out loud. They wanted to know where twins came from. Fiona tossed that one to Neil to bring him into the conversation, then took the next one on nursing babies.

They were a little interested in menstruation, and very interested in babies — particularly in twins and birth defects and whether brothers and sisters would have two headed babies if they got married — but they had few questions about the sexual act itself. That was the present level of their maturity.

One girl asked a question about getting pregnant, and Fiona used it as a springboard. It was apparent to Neil that she had been waiting for that particular question to surface. Fiona explained clearly that if a girl had had her first period, and she had sex with a boy, she could get pregnant.

“Even if you just do it once?”

Lisa Cobb asked the question, but you could see from the incredulity in their eyes that they were all thinking the same thing. Yes, Fiona assured them, one time was all it took. Neil chimed in to reinforce her statement.

“But that’s not fair!” Tanya Michelson said.

Fiona went with that sentiment, emphasizing the need for caution because life wasn’t fair.

There weren’t many questions directed toward Neil, although Fiona handed him enough of the general ones to make it look like he was participating fully. It really did not matter. When the girls went home, they would have have seen a man and woman working together and discussing sexual matters freely and without embarrassment. If that was all they got out of his presence, it was worthwhile.

Fiona got another question she had been waiting for. Lupe Ochoa asked what contraception was and Fiona answered in detail, telling what worked and what didn’t — emphasizing that the rhythm method didn’t — and how it was used. If Fiona had taught those things directly, she might have been in trouble, but since she was only answering a question . . .

Eventually they ran out of time. The girls had already run out of questions and were asking the same ones over and over. Fiona took the girls out into the playground while Neil rounded up the boys and herded them into the room. 

# # #

When Fiona returned, they started the video again. The boys reacted differently to everything. Their stance as they entered the room, and as they watched the film was different. Where ninety percent of the girls had watched calmly for knowledge, only ten percent of the boys did. more Monday


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