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sex ed

Let’s talk about how my mother used an episode of 'Malcolm In the Middle' to teach me about sex

Irish sex education at its finest.

THE CONVERSATION ABOUT the birds and the bees is not a conversation that many parents enjoy having. It is not a conversation many kids enjoy listening to either but unfortunately it has to be done. That being said if you grew up in Ireland maybe you didn’t get any sex education at all.

I was lucky enough to be someone who got a very decent sex education thanks to my mother giving me a very good book on the topic. This only happened after a particularly awkward episode of Malcolm in the Middle (Season 4, Long Drive) where Lois traps Malcolm in the car and gets him to admit that he wants to have sex with his girlfriend.

I was sat there, rooted to the couch in terror not daring to look at mother who was sitting on the other couch as Malcolm and Lois went back and forth arguing about sex. I was terrified to catch my mother’s eye for fear that she would engage me in a conversation about the topic.

As the credits rolled she decided that 10-year-old Rachel definitely wanted to talk about sex and asked me ‘So do you know what sex is?’

I was terrified.


I mean yes I did know some bits about sex but I didn’t want to admit that to my own mother did I? I had to reply though and to this day it still rings around my brain with the sheer awkwardness of it all.

‘It’s when two people get in a bed and do…. stuff?’

Stuff??? What did I mean by stuff?? They were hardly making smores or starting a political party, were they? They weren’t exactly getting together to discuss whether or not the Wanted will ever come off hiatus or who was the best Backstreet Boy. It was just the first thing that came into my head that wasn’t the ‘no pants dance’.


My mother, who seemed very determined to have this conversation despite my unhappiness at the entire situation pressed on and began explaining what was involved in the delicate process of riding.

It was mortifying.

All I had wanted to do was watch an innocent episode of ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ and suddenly I’m learning about what happens when a mammy and a daddy love each other very, very much.

It turns out it was more than ‘a special cuddle’.

The conversation, while very necessary scarred me for a number of years. As I seemed determined not to play any part in the conversation, my mother decided that the best course of action was to buy me a book about the whole thing.

It had a different section for boys and girls (boys had to start at the back of the book) so naturally I read both sections and felt incredibly smug about the whole thing for knowing stuff about BOYS too!

But what about Malcolm in the Middle?

I haven’t been able to watch it since.

Thanks mam.


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