Today, there was not a lot of inspiration to share with you. I worked most of the day, but I still have a great story or two tucked away for days like today. Please let me share with you the story of Jake learning the difference between boys and girls. Be forewarned! There will be some PG-13 type content here, so read at your own risk.
On occasion, Jacob will recall that I wanted Benjamin to be a girl, and then proclaim that to Ben, just to get under his skin. As you might have guessed, this generally happens when they are arguing. This scenario often goes something like this:
Jake: “SHUT UP BEN! Mom wanted you to be a GIRL, you know!”
Ben: “Nuh uh!”
Me: “Jake, to be fair, I wanted you to be a girl, too. Ben, I love you even though you’re a boy.”
Ben: “I love you, too, Mama!”
Me: “Now stop fighting or I’ll make you both wear pretty dresses.”
I realize the boys will probably not appreciate me putting this picture on the internet for the world to see, but the only other illustrations I could think of seemed much too provocative.
(Let me pause here and take a moment to clarify; I have always wanted a daughter, if I had a kid at all. I never in my wildest dreams considered a son, much less two. However, there are some definite advantages to having boys, and I am happy to make the best of it. At least I’ll never have to talk to them about their least favorite monthly visitor…)
So, the previous conversation had happened in one form or another many times over the last few years. It pretty much always went the same way each time. Pretty much. But, not always… Because one time, this conversation played out more like this:
Jake: “BEN, Mom wanted you to be a GIRL“
Me: “Jake, we’ve talked about this.. stop saying that to your brother, please.”
Ben: “I like girls!”
Jake: “Ew Ben, you LIKE girls? Hey Mom, what is the difference between boys and girls anyhow?”
Me: (long awkward pause….)
Now, at this time, Jake was in kindergarten, and so he was probably only about 5 years old. It had occurred to me somewhere along the line that we would one day need to educate our children about more adult matters, but I had thought that the fact we had boys designated Ryan to be the person that had to play teacher. It really seemed like a fair trade. I would sacrifice pretty dresses and tea parties, but Ryan would take on the burden of potty training, sex education and driving. It’s a pretty basic bartering system in my opinion. After all, if we had given birth to two beautiful daughters, I would never have expected Ryan to teach them the joys of using Kotex for the first time. But here we were, faced with our first exploration into the territory of the sexual education, and Ryan was no where to be found.
I was dumbstruck, but I had to think quick. Jake’s attention hadn’t faded in the moments I gathered my thoughts, so this question wasn’t just going to fade away. I wanted to be truthful, because I don’t want my kids to be ‘those kids’ that get an inadequate education on the playground from Bob the Bully… but at the same time, I didn’t want to offer up more information than Jake was really asking for and scar him for life. What was the real difference between a boy and a girl?
How did that poem go again? Girls, sugar, spice… everything nice… Boys, slugs, snails, puppy dog tails? Snails? No…that sounded more like girls again. That wasn’t going to help….
After much consideration, I answered as simply as I knew how:
“Boys have pee-pees, Jake. Girls do not.”
Phew! Glad that’s over with… and now onto the-
“YOU DON’T HAVE A PEE-PEE, MAMA?”
Internal “Dammit!” followed by another awkward pause…
“No, Jake, I don’t have a pee-pee like yours, buddy.”
Jake seemed to be happy with that explanation, and so he climbed into the bathtub and the conversation was over. Or so I thought. Within the next ten minutes, Jake went back to the subject.
“Okay, so.. you’re a girl, and you don’t have a pee-pee?”
“No Jake, I don’t have a pee-pee.”
This time, Jake took the thoughtful pause. He went back to playing with Ben in the bathtub, but I could see his mind was contemplating. I had tried to guess what he was about to ask, and I was tossing answers around in my head so that I could give a more confident answer when he finally spit his question out. I considered where babies really came from, the basics of sex… but I had never expected what was coming next:
“Oh Mommy! I am SO sorry… I really wish you had a pee-pee. I LOVE my pee-pee!”
And I busted out giggling just like a child. I didn’t want to embarrass him, but I just couldn’t help it. It had never before dawned on me that I was at some type of disadvantage because of my gender. (With the exception of fair wages, physical ability and having to menstruate, but this is not a politically motivated blog.) This little honest and heart felt apology from my son made me realize that boys aren’t just trying to annoy me by having their fingers continually up their noses or down their pants… Rather, they really are embracing their manhood. Huh. This certainly explains many of the mysteries surrounding the odd behavior of the not always fairer sex.
I think that day, Jake learned his first lesson in the much larger subject of the Birds and the Bees. I learned a little bit about the inner workings of the male psyche. I also learned that I really hope Ryan is there instead of me the next time Jake decides to ask a sensitive question… and we’d probably better get preparing for telling why that difference is so significant.