I know. I’m not blogging as much as I should, but I’ve been honing my fiber skills! Still, something happened yesterday that I simply MUST document.
Ever since Gabriel was born, I envisioned myself as being one of those moms who will find a way to discuss anything with her child, regardless of gender. I even wrote a song and book about the WHY questions of the very young. After almost four whole years, Gabriel finally asked his mommie a direct, engaging question. It was so totally unexpected and so totally outrageous. You be the judge:
Last night I gave him a bath; and because our apartment is on the cool side, afterwards we usually spend time on his bed to snuggle to keep him warm while he’s still wet. He gets wrapped up in a huge towel and I’ll dry his hair with the end of it. Last night I unwrapped him for the ritual of slathering shea butter all over him, and I caught him playing with his penis. Well. This was not the first I saw him doing this, AND it’s very normal behavior for this age… I guess for any age. The thing is that this mommie has never handled this situation as a mommie. I’ve heard stories from his teachers about how the boys are going at it during nap time! I’ve been told about how those little beds actually slide across the room! Some teachers were freaking out, so the school had to create a workshop for them to help them understand and handle it better. Again, very normal and they treat it as such.
Even though it’s normal, however, I still need to teach Gabe that he should not do this in public… OOOH, going back a few months, he went through a phase of pulling down his pants to play with his little willy. It unfolded so suddenly that I could not think about how to handle it as I didn’t want to traumatize the kid with my ineptness as a toddler interpreter. To make things worse, he started this behavior exactly on the morning of a cookie decorating party that had about 12 other kids attending. My first reaction as to be mortified when, after all the talking I did before we got there NOT to do that, he did. I have since figured out that he was doing this when he was bored. At the party, there came a point when all the other kids went downstairs and he was left upstairs with just the mommies. Even though I had my eyes on him 99% of the time, it was during that 1% he decided to put his hands in his pants. How I found out was that I had noticed someone looking in his direction with a funny face. I looked over and there he was. Thank goodness he was basically alone, but standing in the middle of the room being pretty obvious about the whole thing. I am so grateful for those mommies who have more than just a few years of mommie seniority on me. They really helped me get my head back and gave advice on how I should be handling it. However, you know that things like this do not go away overnight, so that Monday afternoon, I was advised by the school that he had exposed himself in front of all the kids… which is not normally a bad thing, but they are more concerned about the other kids’ parents finding out, especially new parents and those of the girls, because sometimes they don’t understand that it’s pretty innocent. The teachers also gave advice on how to handle this.
I’d say that the most important thing is to keep calm and to not project negativity about the actual penis or that playing with it is taboo. Again, let me say right here that this is my own opinion and the point of this is not to criticize any one else’s parenting. For myself, I want my child to be comfortable with his body and that means I will not teach him that touching his penis, or any other part of his body, is wrong. Now, getting back to the landmark question I was asked just yesterday. Oh, I should say that Gabe had stopped pulling down his pants in front of me and I had not gotten any reports, of him doing the same, from school,.
Getting back to last night. I grabbed this opportunity to talk more about the need to keep private and decided to tell Gabe not to play with his penis. I went on to say that he should not let other people see his penis because it was a “private part”, HIS private part. For a little while he was silent, then he looked right at me and asked, “Mommie, what’s wrong with my penis?” Wow, that came on so suddenly that all I could do was to just sit there, taking it in for a bit. I said, “Gabe, there is nothing wrong with your penis. Your penis is perfectly fine, there is nothing wrong with it. It’s just that your penis should be private and it’s bad manners to let other people see it.” Oh God, I am hoping that was okay to say. There is so much more that needs to be said on this subject, for his protection, about perverts, so heavy; but I still have no idea how to convey all this additional stuff, so kept silent, for now. I don’t remember using the word “wrong” when I first told him not to touch it, but I honestly don’t remember word for word, but do remember word for word, my response… how weird that is. From the whole experience? I’m walking on eggs wondering if I handled that okay… though I think I did. I had no idea he had this on his mind, if he did prior to this interaction.
SIGH… so that is the story of the million dollar question… not a “Why” question, but it’s plenty for now. REALLY. I am still so looking forward to Gabe asking more questions. I will go into a bit of history here. When I was growing up, my parents were not open, and definitely did not project approachability. There was affection, NO communication other than various dictates, rulings and being disciplined. As we got older, I think my mother missed being close with us, but really, she did nothing earlier in our lives to welcome us into “her” world. I’ve vowed that will not be the case with my son. Yes, I’m an older mommie, but I think it’s just the right time for me to become a mother. I never could have done this if I was younger. I am more mature and more developed, myself, which makes me better mom material.