Not to brag or anything, but when I got married I knew a thing or two about the penis. I grew up in a liberal minded family and not too much was considered a taboo subject. I shared a washroom with my younger brother and shy, he is not.
During my university days, I rented a room in a co-ed house. The guys talk of “ball-itch” and “balls sticking to thighs” among other things, ignited shrieks and looks of terror from the other female residents whom only have sisters but I barely raised an eyebrow.
I learned a lot about men, sex and penises living with my brother, my university roomies and later my husband (who had more a shock living with me after growing up in a house full of men) through the years.
But nothing prepared me for being a mother to three boys. That’s a lot of penises.
I knew my fair-share about men but boys are an entirely different lot. Little boys need their mothers to take care of them – all of them.
My crash course in “the penis” began just after learning that I was going to have a boy. The little fetus growing inside of me had a penis.
“But the testicles haven’t descended yet.” The ultrasound technician reported matter-of-factly.
“Make sure that you read the circumcision after-care instructions thoroughly and be sure to come back in if you suspect an infection.” The doctor firmly stated passing us a limp sheet of paper that he had fished from a stack.
And then slowly it happened over six years. While learning about formula and sleep positions, the croup and cradle cap, I learned about teeny erections hidden under diapers, painful rashes that spread past the bum, and pushing back foreskin.
I knew that I must have reached some guru-like status with my friends when they would call me for penis care tips. My one friend, after having two girls gave birth to her son, called me in sincere shock to report that her son’s teeny penis had angel-fine fuzz, (“Is this normal!?”) and to ask why had I not told her that poop likes to settle into the wrinkled skin of the scrotum.
But the tables are starting to turn and my curiosity is beginning to wane while the boys’ wonderment about their own bodies, and why mine is so different, is growing every day.
I walk the fine line between educating them about their bodies and human sexuality while keeping it age appropriate. On a recent car trip, the oldest asked me how babies get out of a mommy’s tummy. I asked him to tell me what he thought. He went on to describe a c-section in vivid detail. I nodded and said, “Yes, that is one way,” but before I could even get into explaining the other way a baby exits the womb, he asked how did a baby get into a mommy’s tummy?
“An egg. All mommies have eggs in their body and when she is ready for a baby, a tiny egg grows in her tummy and the daddy helps it to grow.”
We sat in silence and I waited for him to ask how the daddy helps it to grow but before he could, his younger brother piped up with disgust and spat out:
“Eggs!?! Eggs!?! We come from eggs?! Ugh! Gross! I don’t even like eggs!”
I figure that eventually we will work our way back to the conversation.
Like Nathalie, I believe that books are always a great jumping off point for serious discussions with kids, regardless of the topic.
Although not a traditional book, my interest was piqued when 4Mothers received an email from Vancouver based GoTo Educational introducing a new app for parents and kids called Birdees, explaining the birds and the bees.
Birdees has age specific modules for children as young as two years old and the modules provide information on body parts, detail appropriate behaviour, communication and safety while being interactive and easy to use.
There is no denying that the boys love a good book but iPad time is scarce in these parts so anytime they can get connected they are happy to do so – and when I have control over what they are playing, it’s the perfect set-up for continuing our conversation about the “birds and the bees”.