Animal tails are hard to resist. I don’t know a single toddler who doesn’t like to pull dog tails. Or cat tails. You try to teach your child that pulling on tails isn’t nice, and that respecting animals is important, but sometimes even the best behaved kid can’t resist a good tug. Luckily, I have very tame and tolerant animals.
Tail tugging is all fun and games until someone crawls into bed with her sleeping parents, reaches into her father’s boxer shorts, and yanks “dada’s tail.” Luckily, I have a very tame and tolerant (if now soprano) baby daddy.
One day your little angel is going to realize that daddies have…tails, and mommies don’t. It might be especially awkward if you have a toddler that was very excited to discover that her father had a “tail” and wants to see it again. Then some dramatic temper tantrum is going to occur when you tell her that no, she can’t see daddy’s tail because it went away. In desperation you might bring a cat over so she can touch his tail instead. The cat will look at you with an “et tu, Brute” expression and run away from you and your sobbing child leaving everyone tail-less. Then you will give up and plop your child in front of the television.
I’m not sure how to have the anatomy talk. My daughter is not even two years old yet, but she’s figured out that her and I are…um…the same, and daddy is different. I’m sure very very soon she will discover that one of the boys in her art class is just like daddy and the “mommies and daddies have different parts” talk is going to turn into the “boys have this and girls have this and it really isn’t necessary to compare parts with everyone you meet” talk. Then, (when my husband’s involuntary falsetto voice goes away) we will have to say the word penis, and my ever charming (and if you read urban baby blog last week, swearing like a sailor) child will be repeating the word penis to everyone on the street. I can picture it now. She’s going to point to the groins of total strangers and yell penis at the top of her lungs.
I have good reason to worry. When I was my daughter’s age (according to my parents), after I discovered that daddies and the little boys at daycare had different parts, I got the “penis talk.” Then a few days later I was at the bank with my father to deposit his paycheck. We were waiting on line with a bunch of people my dad knew and I loudly announced to them that Ashley (a boy from daycare) had a penis but it was a very little penis, and I held up my thumb and forefinger to demonstrate how tiny it was. I also announced that my daddy also had a penis but it was a great big penis and held my arms out wide to let everyone on Staten Island know of its magnitude. Twenty-four years later, my father still hasn’t lived it down.
Thank G-d today we have direct deposit.
I’m truly at a loss. Kids are curious, and that’s fine, but man parts and lady parts are a delicate discussion. I know it’s a bit of a safety issue too. We have to communicate that if anyone (aside from the pediatrician) asks my daughter to see her parts she should immediately go away and tell mommy or daddy. And that if she ever sees someone else’s parts she should tell mommy or daddy. Both my husband and I have tried to talk to each other about how to explain anatomy to our daughter, but it usually ends in an awkward silence and putting the talk off for when we have more time.
Maybe when our daughter is 30 and we finally unlock the bedroom door and let her out, we can do it.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.