In the case of my youngest, he’s had years of his older brothers setting the standard for how much one should congratulate oneself for being born with a penis, although I think he would have figured this out himself. My oldest was barely three and without older brothers to clue him in when he wrapped his arms around my neck and said, “Mommy, I’m sorry you don’t have a penis.” He was so sad for me.
As little boys, they’d look down in the bathtub and start cackling with laughter, pointing to their penises. Getting dressed was cause for hilarity. It’s still there! Isn’t that awesome? Look! Really, look Mom!
Yup, still there, still awesome.
As they grew older I began with indulgent eye-rolling and head shaking. Older still and I whittled down to just eye-rolling.
“Dude,” I said to each of them in turn, ” it’s not that I’m not happy for you. Trust me, I’m over-the-moon-thrilled that you were so clever to be born with a Y chromosome and all its accoutrements. But I’ve seeeen it. I’ve slapped about five thousand diapers on that hienie over the years. I got a good look. I’ll let you know if I have further need of a view. And honestly? No one else, ever, for the rest of your life, will be quite as enthralled with your penis as you are, so you might want to keep it in your pants.”
And after that, the genital fascination moved to the periphery of my life. Luckily, they had brothers with whom they could unabashedly share their enthusiasm.
Large parts of my younger boys’ days are spent discussing “nuts.” Whether the nuts have been kicked, whether clothing constrains the nuts. Who is missing their nuts, and what further euphemisms can be ascribed to nuts.
My two youngest are often like Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau, and Cato, but if Clouseau and Cato were puppies. They try to kill or maim each other during most waking hours, and they can’t be in the same room without pouncing on each other. It’s friendly, except when it’s not.
I was in my studio when the wrestling started.
“Oh, MY NUTS!”
“Aww, you don’t have any nuts, Matt,” said Riley, cheerfully.
“Yes I do! They’re right here! Right! Here! Ow! I poked my nuts too hard!”
“Matt. I told you, you don’t have any nuts.”
“Yes I do. SEE!”
Oh. Good. Lord. The child has dropped trou to present his nuts, hasn’t he? I know without looking. It’s difficult to concentrate when this is going on in the next room.
“Ohhhhhh, Matt. I didn’t need to see that,” said Riley, “and those aren’t nuts.”
“Yes they are. It’s my MANLINESS!”
“That’s not your manliness! Those are like caterpillar balls.” The crashing sounds have begun again.
“They’re like COW BALLS!” Yells Matt. Cow balls? “My nuts are HUGE!”
“You don’t have nuts,” repeats Riley, cheerfully. More slamming.
“OOWWW! Oh my BELUGAS!”
“Matt, aren’t belugas a whale?”
“Yes,” I interject from my studio. “The boy has just referred to his testicles as small whales.”
Matt is laughing so hard I can barely understand him. “MY BELUGAS. THEY’RE HUUUGE!”
There is entirely too much testosterone in my house.