How often do you utter the word penis? What’s that? Never? Yeah, well, that is about right for most average adults (urologists and Mohels aside). For the first seventeen years of my parenting life, I am unsure I ever said it, actually. Each of my children had one, but aside from the ceremonial Bris on each of their eighth days of life, along with the quickly learned skill of “pointing it down” in the diaper, I cannot say I gave them (the penises, that is) much thought. I can say, however, that hardly a day goes by now that it doesn’t come up (if you will excuse the pun) in conversation. Yes, in everyday conversation.
Perhaps it arises in a chat with a well-meaning acquaintance who thinks that along with Jessie’s transition eighteen months ago came a penisectomy. (Truth: someone asked me if we had had it “removed”. Um, no.) It could be with a closer acquaintance inquiring as to what we are going to do about it. (Wish I knew.) Or it could be the voices in my head fretting over bathing suits, ill-fitting shorts or, truthfully, erections.
Much to my mother’s horror, I have been known to refer to Jessie as “my daughter with a penis”. Much to my horror I have had to phone the on-call pediatrician to inquire about an issue with said penis all while using the female pronoun. (Of course the doc on call happened to be the one in our practice’s rotation whom I have never met. I am sure she figured it out, but awkward…)
Harrison (who might just disown me after this blog post) entered and completed puberty without fanfare. He got taller, his voice got deeper and he sprouted hair under his arms and on his legs (which, when it first erupts, is gross. What? It is.) and, voila, he was done. In fact, it was completely unremarkable. Not once did the need to use the word penis arise. Everything that was supposed to happen happened. End of story. Not so with Jessie. In fact, there has been discussion of all things pubertal: height, hair, Adam’s Apple, hormones, foot and hand size and, oh, yeah, her penis. Lots and lots of talk about her penis.
A question to all you parents of boys: have you spent a fraction of the time I have thinking (in the least creepy way possible), worrying or talking about your child’s penis? I am guessing you have not. I will further surmise that you are grateful that you haven’t had to. You might even be blushing at the fact that I have used the word “penis” ten times in these five paragraphs. I can honestly report that a day does not go by without the word penis (that’s eleven) entering into the equation somehow. It is part of the new normal. It is not even strange to me anymore. It is all part of the process…one which, thus far, has not included the word vagina. Not once.
NOTE: As you know, I often include pictures with my posts, although sometimes I am unable to find anything appropriate. Rest assured: for this one, I did not even look…