Micah is completely fascinated with his body right now. At this point, he must have explored nook and cranny of his little body. There are times when he is quiet in another room, and I’ll yell out to see what he’s up to, only to have him run into my room pulling his underwear and his pants up. He was probably somewhere exploring his body. I can only imagine what I’ll walk in on when he’s a teenager.
I’m all about being upfront and discussing everything with him. We’ve had the talk already and he understands that him and other boys have penises, and Mommy and other girls has a vagina. We’ve gone through him exposing himself in public (yep, it happened – nope, I’m not going to share anymore about it. I’m still horrified.) and the privacy talk that quickly came thereafter, and we’ve overanalyzed the fact that he has a penis and I have a vagina, and even that both men and women have breasts and they all come in different shapes and sizes.
We even had the conversation about people coming in different sizes and shapes after he announced that “I had a big belly and a big booty” as I came out of the shower one day. His face was scrunched in serious thought and confusion as he said this, which made me even more inclined to have the conversation with him. I’m not sure if that conversation truly stuck with him or not, but I wanted to at least start having those conversations with him.
So what exactly is the new craze then? His testicles, or as only my son would dub them, “my meatballs”.
He’s been exploring his testicles for the past few weeks, and I was waiting for the question to come – “I have meatballs. Why don’t you, Mommy?” Yet, it didn’t. But my son tends to do everything in his own time, so I just waited.
I wasn’t going to push the topic until the question came up.
I finally started to relax, and not waiting on pins and needles waiting for him to ask the question.
One day, I stepped out the shower to him sitting on the potty trying to get a good look at his testicles. He seemed to find a comfortable enough position to get a glimpse – he was pushed back all the way on his potty seat with one foot up on the seat and the other off to the side, and his penis shoved to the side with one hand and the other hand grabbing his testicles for dear life – and he looked up at me when I opened the shower curtain. Before I could even say anything, he gasped and yelled, “Mommy, where’s your meatball? Where did it go? Did you lose it? Did it go down the drain? We have to find it!”
He leaps off the potty – still with his penis in one hand and his testicles in the other – and pulls the shower curtain all the way back, and begins exploring the tub. “Oh no Mommy! Your meatball is gone!”
He slid to the floor and he started to cry and whine. Then there were the tears – those tears were filled with grief and sadness over the loss of my non-existent testicles.
After the shock wore off, the hilarity of the entire situation took over me. I started laughing uncontrollably – I had to put my hands on the wall to avoid falling over. I laughed so hard that even my crying toddler stopped crying and watched me. His laughter soon followed.
You see, I imagined that he would ask the question at some point, but I had absolutely no idea he would think that I lost mine! I figured he would ask why he had testicles and I didn’t, but I never in a million years imagined that he would think that I had lost mine and that’s why I didn’t have any.
I finally calmed down and caught my breath. I got him all cleaned up, threw on some clothes, and we made our way to our “talking spot” – the dining room table – to talk. (The living room is too distracting with toys and the television, so the dining room table is the best place to go for us.)
Before we dove in to the topic at hand, I decided to do a reminder lesson. We talked about penises and vaginas, we talked about differences between girls and boys, we talked about different sizes and shapes – it’s always a good time to get things in perspective and see what we need a refresher on. He agreed and added input where needed, and finally, it was time to move forward.
ME: Mommy didn’t lose her testicles. Mommies and girls don’t have testicles. Only boys have testicles.
MICAH: Oh, so you didn’t lose your meatball?
ME: Nope, Mommy never had testicles.
MICAH: So Micah has a penis and meatballs?
ME: Micah has a penis and testicles?
MICAH: Micah has a penis and ‘test-cles’.
MICAH: Mommy, I have 2 and you have 1. I’m the winner!
Well, at least he got the ghist of the conversation and he could stop grieving the loss of my testicles. I’ll leave the conversation about the woman’s reproductive anatomy on the inside is similar to the man’s reproductive anatomy on the outside. That’s a conversation for a completely different day and time – possibly after I gulp down a big glass of wine.
5 Tips for Dealing with Anatomy Questions from Your Toddler
1. Be prepared for anything. You never know what your toddler will do or say about their body or even yours.
2. Make it simple. Find the simplest explanation and provide that to your toddler. Don’t overload them with information that they won’t begin to process and understand. There’s time to get more detailed later.
3. Stick with the physical and external. No need to go in to deep explanations about what things do and how they work – that can come in time. Focus on the physical characteristics. Whether you have a boy or a girl, they will be fascinated with the physical and external characteristics of their body parts, so keep it at that level.
4. You don’t have to know it all. You may feel sometimes that you aren’t sure what you’re doing and how you should handle the conversation. There’s no right or wrong way to initiate a conversation with your child. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to show that you’re interested in what they’re talking about and offer some guidance in the best way that you know how. Then dive into some books and the world of Google search as they get older lol.
5. Name. Explain. Give rules. Repeat. This is something that someone shared with me before Micah was born, and now it’s starting to make sense as Micah gets older. With each question your child asks about their body, give a name to it that they can use when talking about it. It depends on how you want to do it – I use the terms “penis” and “vagina” but some parents like to use “pee-pee” or “wee-wee”. Use the terms you feel most comfortable using. Then explain what it is and at a very high-level, what it is used for. Give the rules – you have to only explore your body in private, not in the store, or in the living room full of friends. And repeat – make sure to reiterate what was taught to make sure your toddler gets the gist of it.