We visited my Grandma Adeline a few weeks ago. My sister had brought something or other in an Abercrombie and Fitch bag. The model pictured looked so androgynous that I wondered aloud, “Is that a boy or a girl?”
Rowan’s response — and the brief conversation that ensued — caught me off-guard.
Me: “Is that a boy or a girl?”
Rowan: “Well...does it have a hole?”
Me: “A hole?”
Rowan: “Yeah, a hole. Like a butt hole.”
Me: “Um…everyone has a butt hole, Rowan. Boys and girls.”
Rowan: “Then I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. Probably a boy.”
Where did this come from?
I told the story to several people before I remembered that I had, in fact, caused the “hole” situation. It started with an innocent question during the early days of potty learning (more on that later). Poised on his Elmo potty seat, Rowan had asked, “How do girls pee if they don’t have a penis?”
His question threw me. After all, it's the penis-vagina dichotomy that gets all the attention. That comparison, however, means nothing outside the context of sexual reproduction — something 2-year-olds don’t need to know about, thank God.
So, I stumbled. My response, as I recall, went something like this:
“Um…girls pee out of urethras. But…I guess…actually…boys have urethras too. They’re just inside of their penises. So…girls kind of just pee out of a hole.”
A hole. Suddenly, it all made sense.
Why does the female anatomy have to be so complicated, anyway? Or maybe it’s the male anatomy that’s too complicated. I mean, each female part has a pretty specific purpose, right? The penis, on the other hand, has a dual function that makes direct comparisons difficult.
I guess it doesn’t really matter. According to my kid, boys have penises, girls have holes, and I would be the worst anatomy teacher in the history of the world. ‘Nuff said.
(Did I mention that I’m a writer at a hospital that performs tests like voiding cystourethrograms? Sheesh!)
This brings me to Rowan's progress on the potty-learning front…
I say potty “learning” because it’s apparently no longer acceptable among enlightened-mama circles to say potty “training.” You see, training is for dogs. Since children are not dogs (and — let’s admit — much harder to train than dogs) proper decorum mandates that we use the term learn.
(Don’t ask me what animal-rights activists think about this distinction. I have enough to worry about.)
Anyway, after several months’ refusal to pee on the potty, Rowan is now a well-learned boy! He wakes up dry and can stay dry throughout the day. The catch? He doesn’t always tell me when he has to go. My best bet is to take him to the potty at regular intervals.
But I’m happy with our progress. Poop flushing down a toilet is a huge improvement over poop smeared all over a squirmy behind.
Life is good.
5 weeks ago