The stories we hear as children stick with us for a lot longer than we’d like to admit. It’s why I can’t brush my teeth around midnight for fear of being attacked by Bloody Mary. But while Tinder has made us all collectively ignore the warnings to not talk to strangers, it seems some government entities haven’t read any of the sex-ed basics.
The Ladybird-style books on sex we were told to read as kids may have been packed with more euphemisms than a Christmas Panto (heaven forbid we teach teens the correct word for things) but they provided us with so many valuable life lessons we all wish the Planning Authority could have learnt. It’s never too late to learn, so here’s a few recommendations.
Firstly, we’re hoping they pick up a copy of “It’s OK to say no sometimes!”
Even if the petrol station owner really, really wants a new plot of land, you can still tell them no! If you’re not comfortable with the situation, or you suspect something isn’t right, you are the one who gets to call it all off.
“Incessantly begging for a driveway in the backyard is also poor form, even if it is your birthday”
Telling people no can be scary (even though it shouldn’t be), but hearing the phrase can also be a hard pill to swallow; that’s where we slip in book number two: “No, means NO!“
Shocker, we know, but it’s always worth reiterating that “no” is not the same as “no… unless we rearrange ODZ lines” and it certainly is not the same as “but he’s a Cabinet Minister so… maybe?”.
If the policy in place is saying no, you have to respect that. It’s also criminal to wine and dine the person in control in the hopes of lowering their guard and being allowed the pool extension you’ve been hoping for.
Finally, incessantly begging for a driveway in the backyard is also poor form, even if it is your birthday.
The third book is the dustiest one on the shelf, and it’s not hard to see why. “Talk to your parents about how you’re changing. Yes, it’s awkward, but it will help!“
Nobody really wants to listen to their NGO parents go into the gory details of how pristine the Sliema front was before it was overrun by flats. Yes, they did the research, have no monetary bias and are only doing it to help make the island a better place but like, ew!
A young child may get a little bit uncomfortable hearing about how there were once wide open fields of grass that kids could run around and play in without the constant fear of oncoming traffic. And while we may cringe at our parent’s description of air that isn’t filled with the dust created from non-stop construction across the island, it’s important to hear it all from a loving and familiar voice.
“If your partner doesn’t bring protection like well-constructed scaffolding, then it’s important for you to have your own.”
Finally, the most important book that should really have been read from cover to cover is: “It’s OK to have fun, but you’ve got to be safe!” This one is thick, cos there are so many aspects to safety.
If your partner doesn’t bring protection like sturdy, well-constructed scaffolding or up-to-standard health and safety codes, then it’s important for you to have your own. If you don’t then stop things before they go too far.
Everyone always thinks: “oh but it won’t happen to me, I’ll pull my construction in time” – but once you’ve laid the first bricks, you’re never sure you’ll be able to stop.
Perhaps the easiest way to stay safe is to know your partner’s history, and if you flag something concerning, say ancient cart ruts or Mesopotamian ruins, pretending you didn’t know any better is not on. The very least you could do is cover them in protective plastic, but ideally you go to an expert.
Look, we’re aware that along the way this metaphor got a little bit convoluted. But just like Malta’s sexual health education, the construction situation on the island is leaving us all covered with hives. So in an attempt to make a slight difference, and contrary to what is recommended by GU clinics anywhere, we’ll try anything once.
If it helps, maybe start the whole article again, but this time read it in the voice of the teacher from the Magic School Bus.