A recent post from theJackB (http://www.thejackb.com/) cracked me up. It was about his young daughter and her many many questions about boy parts. The post inspired me to revisit a previously written draft and share some lessons I have learned from my boys and regarding their respective parts. Enjoy.
1. Knock First. “Hey, buddy, whatcha doing in there?” I asked. My son, then 3 years old, had been in the bathroom for a long time and I was curious as to when he would return to the family room so we could resume our movie.
“I’m playing with my penis, Mommy!” he replied. I got up to see what he was actually doing. As it turns out, I did not have to do that because he was actually playing with his penis, just as he stated, and was pleased to show me all the marvelous things it could do. I told him that I was going to start the movie again and closed the door.
2. The truth will not only set you free, it may also gross you out, (if you are 7 years old). Recently we were at the zoo. While at the primate exhibit, a bonobo was nursing her young. The women working at the exhibit told us (and the crowd) all about the exhibit. The monkeys, gorillas and bonobos and their natural habitat, grooming habits, diet, you get the idea. Then my son asked her what the female bonobo was doing with the baby. She explained to him that she was feeding the baby, as many mammals feed their young, and moved on to the next question. “The way they feed their babies is kind of gross,” he said.
A little while later, he turned to me. “Mom, we are mammals, right?”
“That’s right,” I answered.
“And the bonobos are mammals, like us?”
“That’s right.” Wait for it. And the light bulb went off.
“Do people feed their babies that way too? The gross way the bonobos do?”
“It’s not gross.” I replied. “That’s the way I fed you, your brother and sister when you were babies. It’s just what mommy mammals do.”
“With your breasts?” He asked in repulsion.
“Yes, with my breasts.” I replied. He ended the conversation by running toward a pooping elephant.
3. Know your audience. “MOM!” I heard a yell from upstairs. It was the Girl, who had a friend over to play. Just as I was about to spring into action, you know, do CPR, call poison control, save lives, whatever, I heard giggling. So I slowed when going upstairs to see what was amiss. We were not yet at the point where my boys always closed the bathroom door when using the facilities. The Girl and Andrea (her friend, name changed), had walked in on Apprentice.
“AAHHH! What’s that?” Andrea asked Apprentice, astonished.
“My penis. I’m peeing,” Apprentice answered, matter of fact.
“Oh,” Andrea replied. Apprentice sensed that she wanted more information and did not want to disappoint.
“I go pee with it. Sometimes it even gets bigger or smaller,” Apprentice started to explain.
“Gross!” Andrea interrupted.
“MOM!” My daughter yelled for me, as she was embarrassed, and this is where I began the story. “Andrea, never mind him. My brothers sometimes play with their penises.” She rolled her eyes and they left the bathroom.
The situation now under control, I reminded the boys to close the bathroom door and then went to my bedroom to privately giggle. After I composed myself, I called Andrea’s mother. I told her what happened, how it was completely innocent, but Andrea had seen Apprentice’s private parts. Jean (also name changed) thanked me for calling, confirmed a pick up time and giggled a bit, explaining that Andrea’s dad is quite modest and that was the first time Andrea had seen boy parts. (whoops)
4. Stay with your kids while they are changing clothes. A couple of weeks after the above incident, we were staying with friends for a weekend visit. They have two great daughters, about the same age as my little cherubs. It was approaching bed time, so children were sent to their respective sleeping quarters to change. A few minutes later we heard giggles. Alot of them. Then, an exasperated, “what? It’s just a penis.” (oh shit.) Its happened again. Who should appear but Apprentice, stark naked, carrying his jammies. “Mom, can you help me get these on?” I obliged, of course. We got everyone under the age of 10 to bed. Our friends were laughing. Apparently, they don’t walk around the house naked either, because Apprentice had succeeded in showing their daughters a penis for the first time.
My husband and I always tried to call things what they are with respect to biology and our parts. In a small way, I hope this fosters a positive body image for our kids. I want them to know that their bodies are beautiful just the way they are. Even so, I try to keep these lessons in mind when explaining body parts and processes the kids. I hope you have laughed and learn from this as well.
Care to share a story of your own? Please, I would love to hear that we are not the only people this may have happened to..