Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mitochondria and Sexual Harassment

“Guess what Mom?” Em says as we walk down the hill from school toward our street. “We started our science unit today, and it’s about cells, and guess what we talked about? Mitochondria! And I told my teacher about how we’re reading that book and how it’s about mitochondria, so I already knew all about it!”

We’ve been reading A Wind in the Door, Em and I, Madeleine L’Engle’s follow-up to A Wrinkle in Time. (We began reading it before her death last week, but it’s made the reading ever more poignant, at least for me.) It’s about dragons and snakes and the universe and such, but it’s also about mitochondria. When we got to the first mention of mitochondria, I went into full-on science-writer-mom mode, and drew pictures of cells and mitochondria and talked about how they transform certain types of matter into energy, which they then store. Yadayadayada. I couldn’t have set Em up any better for a section on cells and organelles if I’d planned it.

“How cool!” I exclaimed. “That must have been fun for you.”

“It was,” she said. And then, without a pause, “Oh, yeah, and then after that, we saw a film on sexual harassment.”

“You saw a...what?” I looked around. Did I just hear that from my fifth-grader? The one whose friends have yet to be officially school-taught what sex is (though Em actually known the details since she was five...see above re: science-writer mom).

“You know, a film about sexual harassment, and how if anyone does something sexual to you, they can be EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL,” she says, with a gleam in her eyes. Expulsion is exciting, you know.

“But do you even know what sexual harassment IS?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes at me, though only slightly, because she’s still only 10, and a well-mannered kid, and knows she’d get her head handed to her if she overdid it.

“Well,” I finally croaked. “Mitochondria and sexual harassment. All in one day. That’s...a lot.”

“Yeah,” she said, nodding and grinning. “It is a lot, isn’t it.” At which point N, who’d been walking ahead and oblivious, turned around to ask if I would carry him the rest of the way home, and I scoffed at him, and he complained about how tiiiiiiiiired he was, and we continued our stroll, talking about stuff, but about nothing at all. Because, really. After mitochondria and sexual harassment, what’s left to talk about?


Jane said...

A Wind in the DOOR, poser! loveyakbye

Carrie said...

I think you mean A Wind in the Door. Wind in the Willows is a *totally* different story. ;)

TC said...

Brain fart! It's changed.

divinemissk said...

thanks for your congratulations tc- i'm glad my awesome kid shares the same birthday as your awesome kid. can't wait to catch up on all that i have missed in the last few weeks on your blog, but right now i think i'm going to pass out because i just had three sips of wine and i am indeed a cheap date (after feeding the boy of course...)

po said...

I think I would fall down on the floor if I heard my kid *say* sexual, let alone sexual harassment. I get the heebie jeebies when Matthew just says "reproduction" in relation to jellyfish :D