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The Joys of Body Discovery

The moment when your baby discovers his or her hands. “Holy cow, I have hands! Just look at em’--aren’t they amazing! I can stare at them for hours. Did you know they can fit in my mouth?!” Adorable. The moment when kids discover they have a penis or a vagina. Or will get breasts. “Look at my penis! Look at my penis! It can grow big too.” Not so adorable. But, funny as hell. My children have experienced an awakening. Not the Kate Chopin version either. Their eyes have opened to the fact they have genitalia, will be getting breasts, getting a period, and could have fur, I mean hair. Down there. So much truth to the Kindergarten Cop scene where the little boy shares with Arnold Schwarzenegger that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. Check, check, double-check. Also note, very ok with being naked, all of the time. Inappropriately so--regardless of people, places, or time. My son walks around with just a shirt on, like Donald Sutherland in Animal House after having a romp with an undergrad. Only there is no undergrad and he seemingly can’t find his underwear. Or his underwear is on his head. Or, it’s backwards, sporting the thong look, ready for the French Riviera. Penis this and penis that. Hot dog if he feels so inclined. Dropping his drawers to show friends his undies or to slap his butt in jest, to make other four year-olds swoon. His butt dance is a favorite at dinner time or usually around large crowds where he can get the most laughs. His penis has been his favorite bath toy at a very young age. It has evolved to, 'Penis tricks,’ and ‘It’s a sword,’ or ‘Got you, Carly.’ How many times can I say, "Stop playing with your penis! It's not a toy.” He smugly smiles as if to say, “Bullshit lady! This is just the beginning.” His oedipal complex is full throttle as he sticks his paw down my shirt, searching. We have been done breastfeeding for ions and the reflex is downright frightening. We're reading a book on the couch and bam! Down the shirt. Followed by, “I love you so much, I love you the most. More than daddy. I’m gonna marry you.” My daughter has realized that females have breasts or ‘breasteses.’ She has incorporated them into all her artwork, depicting family members to friends. Every female has boobs. I had quite a set the last drawing and was feeling pretty good about myself. It was a definite promotion from my usual status quo, which resides in the training bra arena. The artistic rendering is usually two swirly circles placed on the neck, followed by torso and appendages. I only get slightly jealous when she draws her breasts bigger than mine. Carly wants to be Wonder Woman for Halloween next year and is deeply worried no one will know who she is without breasts. To her credit, Lynda Carter’s outfit left little to the imagination. Every bump, curve and line was illuminated. Boys across the nation soon had a new found love of tiaras and secretly wished to be the recipient of the Lasso of Truth. I told Carly not to worry-people will definitely know who she is. She told me she could stuff socks up her shirt, just in case. We were at Target the other day in the feminine product aisle. She skipped ahead of me, grabbed a box and announced to the woman next to her that she gets to use these when she is older. Like maybe eight. The green ones are the best. Sweet Jesus.... they’re not popsicles! She also wants to shave, is worried about ‘fur,’ thinks we should pluck her brother’s eyebrows tomorrow and wants to know times and dates for future hair growth. And please don’t get me started on ‘Naked Time.’ Naked time is all the time. It could be -15 degrees outside and the dance party just got steamy. My kids never saw Dana Carvey’s stand-up routine where he used the phrase, ‘Naked Time.’ They have been calling it that since they could talk and love to strip in front of strangers, the mailman and at parties. It’s hard not to laugh at their questions, comments, and behavior regarding all things anatomical. It is all developmentally normal and par for the course, but teaching and explaining appropriate discourse can be tricky. You don’t want to embarrass or humiliate them for asking—but you also don’t want them to think its ok to tell strangers they will get their periods someday. And right now, my daughter simply associates breasts with women, and nothing more. We haven’t even gotten to the upper level sociology course, which is forthcoming. They just want to figure this stuff out. We have to teach them the social mores of it all and keep a straight face. Stripping at a church luncheon isn't the best idea. All around life lessons if you think about it--regardless of age.

I am an educator by trade...

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