I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m at a loss sometimes when it comes to raising a boy. I didn’t grow up with brothers, or male cousins. I haven’t the faintest notion of how males work. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be single.
Girly things I can relate to. I know about getting periods, and breasts, and gynecological exams. I can do makeup, and hair, and clothing coordination.
I don’t know the first thing about penises, except that they’re demanding, and seem to take precedence over all things. For the past few days, my son, who’s almost ten, has been obsessed with his penis. He and I can be sitting on the couch, having a perfectly lovely conversation about reading, and suddenly he’ll pull down his pants and treat his penis like a finger puppet—making it speak and move. Sometimes, it’s a volcano, threatening to explode. (I don’t want to read too much into that one.)
When stuff like that happens, my brain goes off in a hundred different directions, trying to decide the best way to handle these situations.
A sexually-repressed mother would probably slap her son, and tell him to never let “that thing” out again—which may result in him growing up and unleashing “his thing” every chance he got.
A sexually-liberated mother might tell her son to embrace his penis, to never be ashamed of nudity—which may result in him growing up and embracing his penis every chance he got.
I find myself falling somewhere in the middle: I don’t want to see his penis, especially in our living room, but I don’t want him to be in therapy over it later on either. I realize he’s discovered his penis in a way that will now make it front and center his entire life. I also can’t help but think that if I had a daughter, I seriously doubt we’d be talking about her vagina in the third person.
Or maybe not. Maybe there are little girls out there who liken their vaginas to, oh, I don’t know, flowers, or walk around pretending their vaginas are meowing.
When your child’s genitalia takes on the importance of say, a best friend, how should a mother react?
I don’t want my son to be embarrassed or ashamed of his budding sexuality, but I also don’t want to have conversations with the “little guy,” if you know what I mean.
So far, I’ve humored my son, and told him to keep the little General in his pants, or I’ll chop it off and throw it in the dumpster. But then I wonder if joking about it may cause irrational fear of castration in his future.
When push comes to shove (no pun intended), all I really want is for my son to learn to use his penis for good, instead of evil.
Anyone have any helpful advice they’d like to share?