Often times, I wished there was. I really needed a section on “How to Properly Explain the Difference Between Boy and Girl Parts Without Laughing.” I’m horribly immature when it comes to discussing anything that might be of a sexual nature. I can’t say the word “balls” without a preface, such as “soccer.” I was the girl who couldn’t get her laughter under control during the “You and Your Body” segment of health class and was sent to the Principal’s Office. Oh, the shame.
Now, I am the proud parent of a boy and girl, born two years apart. My husband and I joked about their ultrasound pictures. My son had a hot dog and my daughter had a hamburger. We still throw that one out there whenever we come across those old pics.
In the beginning, I would bathe them together and it was no big deal. Neither questioned why they were different and frankly didn’t care. Then came the day when my daughter realized there was something not quite the same about her sibling.
K had no understanding of privacy up until recently. She would barge into the bathroom or bedroom without warning. She was about two almost three at this point and wanted to be wherever her big bro was. The feeling was not mutual. One afternoon, my son went to use the bathroom and of course, his ‘shadow’ followed him. I caught her standing in front of the bathroom door, puzzled.
My son was peeing, standing up, like a big boy. I ushered Katie away and closed the door. She looked shocked and appalled. She looked at me with wounded eyes, as though I kept a very important secret hidden from her.
“What is that?” She said, accusingly.
“What?” I said, thinking that playing dumb would by me some time to figure out how to explain boy parts versus girl parts. Hot dogs versus hamburgers. Ween versus petunias. Whatever you call it, I was not prepared to explain it.
“That thing. Down there.” Of course, she was pointing between her legs. I had to tell her, what else could I do?
“Oh…that’s a penis. Yes, a penis.” I said, praying that would end the conversation.
“Where’s mine? I want one!” Of course she did. Heck, I wanted one for the sole purpose of having the luxury of peeing standing up. Many drunken nights in my youth ended up with me peeing on my shoes and usually someone else’s. Not fun.
“Only boys have penises. Girls have….vaginas. You have a vagina.” She looked more confused but then let it drop.
She came to me with more questions for the next several days. I repeated myself over and over. I got so used to saying the word vagina that the uncontrollable laughter I had to hold in at each conversation had ebbed. I decided calling it her petunia was simpler. It sounded pretty (hey, it’s a flower!). That was also what my mom called my lady parts.
I thought we were in the clear. I honestly did. One afternoon, I was preparing lunch. My kids were running around like they were hopped up on 10 cups of Jolt Cola. Then I heard a particularly strange bang and whimpering. I ran to see what happened, thinking someone fell. My almost three-year old stood next to the coffee table, holding her crotch, crying hysterically.
“What happened?” I said, not imagining what could have possibly cause that kind of injury.
“I think I broke my penis,” she wailed. “I ran into the coffee table.”