The problem with penis

The problem with penis is that eventually, your oldest daughter is going to hear it. This is going to happen despite your best efforts to use appropriate language in the presence of both kids, and despite your wife’s deadly serious insistence that all bedroom talk occur only in the bedroom. On weekends. When the kids are asleep. And at their grandparents.

It’s inevitable. You can’t keep the world from intruding on the innocence of your kids forever. Given enough time they’ll hear it all. They’ll hear that that the Holy Trinity of Cash and Candy: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy… are all fakes. They’ll find where babies really come from. Before any of that, though, they’ll learn all the forbidden words one by one. With each one you will have to come up with the best explanation for why only daddy can use those words when he hits his thumb with a hammer or forgets to pay the mortgage. And it will all begin when you’re standing in a group photo for grandchildren of your wife’s grandmother and the family matriarch yells “PENIS!” to get everyone’s attention.

 The problem with penis is that it’s going to take a week before you learn that your daughter even heard it. Your wife is going to drop her off at daycare one morning and find herself in a talk with the daycare provider about how she’s been using the P word.

“She was using it all day yesterday and wouldn’t stop. Every time we’d tell her not to say it, she’d just say it again!”

“P-word? What… do you mean “pissed”? Because her younger sister…”

“No. The (pause) p-e-n-i-s word.” and looks at your wife in the same way that a worker for the DCS might.

Insert the mirthless laughter. Now, together in the same moment, your wife has to both accept that your oldest daughter has learned “penis” and admit that your youngest daughter routinely uses the word “pissed”. She attempts to recover half of the moment by explaining that your oldest daughter heard the word the previous weekend from her Meme. See, if a 73 year old woman, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and step mother, grandmother and great grandmother to 43 something people wants to yell penis, then much like the 500 Pound Gorilla that yells penis, she’s gonna do it wherever she wants. Besides, she’s certainly got the credentials.

Now comes the next problem with penis which is having to explain penis to your daughter without actually having to explain penis to your daughter. You and your wife talk at length about how to approach this. Together you decide that since your daughter already knows about private parts, this is as good a time as any to give them names. You lobby hard for Peter. Then your wife points out that thing where her mom used the word “duper” with her when she was young and how seeing “Super Duper” on the top of that first grade homework assignment creeped her out in a way that still lingers. And so the following morning your wife has a talk your oldest daughter about penis. She explains that that’s what boy parts are called and in a moment of sheer brilliance sprinkles in some stuff about how only mommies, daddies and doctors use that name and some reminders about how we don’t talk about our privates (that’s why they’re private, Duh.) That should solve everything for now.

Until we have to deal with the problem with vagina.


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