CHICAGO — Recently, I had to comfort a student over a situation in which she and another girl were competing for the attention of a boy in their class. There were tears, drama, recriminations and some revenge fantasizing involving passionate language. They were 9-year-old third-graders.

In September, I had to talk to my students about not swapping speculation over who were boyfriends or girlfriends with whom. These were my first-graders.

My sons are now grown and, thankfully, after years of awkward conversations about hygiene, interpersonal relations, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and vaccinations, we can have relaxed, factual conversations about such topics when the need arises.

I sure don’t remember having to broach those issues

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