When I had my son I worried about the penis conversation with my daughter. I knew, at 3 years old, she would ask. I knew she would be interested. I dreaded the thought of her little brain churning over and over the male sex-organ so early. I asked my sister how I should handle it. She said, "You just address it plain and simple call it by its name, don't make up some foo-foo word for it." That has been my rule of thumb. Then, not ten minutes later, my daughter went to the bathroom with her son and came back saying, "Mom, I saw his penis!" Once my son was born we had a quick run through: you have a vagina, he has a penis. I, naively, considered the topic addressed.
Shortly after St. Patrick's day, however, my husband and daughter had stopped for gas at a gas station right next to a McDonald's. The goose said, "I had a Shamrock Shake the other day." My husband said, "Oh yeah? Did you like it." She relied, "Yes, I did. Dad, you have a big penis and my brother has a small penis." Shakes. Penis. Wait what? My husband, dumbfounded, replied, "Well, yes, its because I'm a big guy and he's a little guy." He looked in his rear view mirror to see her churning on the new information then quickly continued, "When did you say you had that Shamrock Shake?"
At my latest ultrasound the tech sent me home with two photographs. One picture of my in-utero son's profile, the other of his penis. I showed the pictures to my daughter, she said "Oh! So that's his penis." Yup. A few days later I caught her playing the fiddle with her brother's schlong in the bathtub. I said, "Oh! That's his penis. You shouldn't touch his private parts." She stopped and said, "Ok."
Then on Mother's Day we sat around the kitchen table chatting about donuts and current weekend happenings. I had mentioned a few days prior that I still had her ultrasound pictures and she wanted to see them. We ate our donuts and looked at the baby's ultrasound, her brother's ultrasounds, and then her ultrasound pictures. She looked at each of them carefully. I'd say, "That's your mouth." She'd reply, "Yes, I see it." When we were done she said, "Wait, but Mom, where is my vagina?" My husband nearly choked on his coffee and I sat speechless. Of course she'd want to see a picture of her vagina. She had just seen two pictures of two penis' and she didn't have one of those...so where was the ever mysterious vagina? Finally I said, "Well, that's tricky because its inside your body so you can't see it on a picture." She seemed pacified.
My head swirled with the what if's of a preschoolers thought process. Where is she heading with this? I geared up for further dialogue about the vagina. Thankfully, my husband switched gears quickly with, "We should get our teeth brushed everybody!" As we left the kitchen he said, "How did we get there so quickly?" The penis/vagina dialogue rages on in my house and I get the feeling it has become a staple.