There is a lovely chapter in the book I am reading about the young boy thinking he had found out where babies come from. He had discerned by noticing his mother's tummy grow under her apron where the baby actually was - but how did it get out. His school friend told him that the baby came out of the mother's navel. He didn't believe this at first but then he very carefully examined his own navel in the privacy of his room and came to the conclusion that his navel did look like something that could be unlocked so he decided mothers locked themselves in their rooms, unlocked the navel and helped the baby out. And as to breast feeding, when his little brother first saw their mother breast feeding their little sister his little brother was terrified and screamed that the baby was eating their mother. Goodness me how innocent we all were a century ago - and yet pre-pill many marriages took place hurriedly after the would-be bride found herself pregnant.
Today I asked my son how he found out (his was born in the fifties) and he related the story of how he had come into the room where his father and I were entertaining his aunt and uncle and announced to the assembled company that he had found out at school that day how babies were made - 'the man and woman sucked each other'. I don't remember this incident at all but he tells how shortly afterwards I told him the correct version!
All this reminded me of recent lettets in The Times from women who had been to convent schools and how the Mother Superiors had given talks about meeting with boys and told the girls that if they had to sit on a boys knee they should make sure there was a telephone directory between their bottom and the boy's knees. And if there was no access to a telephone directory then at least a newspaper - preferably The Times!
Was there ever an age of innocence - maybe not. But pre pill and pre internet maybe things were not quite so open and talked about. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Have we gone too far the other way?