What do a Bavarian pretzel, a bubble wand, and a plastic syringe all have in common? If you’re in my home, they’ve all housed a small penis. Some have even housed two, though rarely simultaneously.
The parenting books I devoured while pregnant prepared me for a lot of things, but not how to properly respond to excited squeals of how wondrous a lid-less shampoo bottle feels in the bathtub.
The books covered both sides of the circumcision debate in great detail. There were a surprising number of paragraphs dedicated to the best ways to clean and care for their tiny members. Several even advised covering the “region” with washcloths during diaper changes to avoid sprayed urine landing in an open mouth.
I wasn’t ready for baby boners. I certainly wasn't ready for the extreme pride and wonder his baby boner elicited from my first born. I never expected we’d have to wave hello and goodbye to his schlong with every single diaper change. Nor that I’d have to bend that toddler throbber down before closing the diaper to prevent my sweet angel from taking a stream of urine to the face. (But let’s be honest – better him than me.)
I made a point of reading up on how to help small kids get along with cats. What cat lover hasn’t been warned about the perils of your sweet feline unintentionally suffocating a baby? With boys, however, I quickly learned the cat was the one in jeopardy. I thought my son was chasing her to pull her tail. But no. He just wanted to drape his naked junk across her fur. And no, the metaphor is not lost on me.
None of those parenting books had suggestions on how to field the question, “Do you think my penis will fit in this?”
Or the conversation that inevitably follows:
“I dunno, sweets. I guess you could try? But honestly, I don’t know what we’ll do if it gets stuck.”
“My penis might get stuck?”
“I’ve seen it happen in movies.”
“What’s a movie?”
“A really long video.”
“My penis is longer than my brother’s.”
“Your arms are longer than your brother’s, too.”
“Do you have a boner?”
“It’s getting bigger.”
“Ok, just don’t touch it and let’s talk about something else. It’ll get smaller and fall right out. Probably. That’s what your dad does, anyway.”
AND HE SHOULD BE DOING THIS, I’d shout in my head while working to extract the wedged willy winkie, cringing as my ears were bombarded with both screams of terror and squeals of delight bouncing off the tile walls.
I always thought the care and keeping of penises would be the domain of my husband. But somehow, every time my kid’s pickle is in a pickle, the patriarch of this house is out bringing in the Benjamins.
Not that his contributions were particularly helpful when he was present, even in the beginning. “Is it…do you think…is it normal for him to reach for it every time I take off his diaper?” he’d ask.
“What’s the first thing you do when you pull off your drawers?” I’d counter.
“Point taken,” was his reply.
Nothing prepared me for the gasp of horror my child would emit when he caught sight of me sans britches. “WHERE IS YOUR PENIS?!?” he screamed, followed by those blue eyes welling with pity. After my explanations of moms and their vaginas he whispered, “You don’t have one? Oh Mom, that’s so sad.”
Nor did the books mention that we’d have that exact same conversation at least once a week.
Several of the books suggested that when your small child starts to offer you bites and pieces of his food, you should always take a little nibble to encourage sharing. The same principle applies when they offer you an opportunity to use their MegaBlocks or Playdoh. I take direction really well, so I’ve nibbled golden pea no-nut butter on rice cakes that make me gag while forming Paw Patrol pups out of paper mache. I’ve worn pirate hats while sipping the strawberry cheese soup he’s lovingly prepared for me. However, I draw the line at his multiple offers to share his penis with me.
“Like Daniel Tiger says, Mom! You can get a turn, and then I’ll get it back.”
“That’s super sweet, kid, but your dad is home and I don’t think you’ve offered to share with him before. Go ask him. And take him some of the soup, too.”