Parenting is teh hard.
So last week my son starts to complain that his penis hurts. Based on his prior physical complaints and observation of his conduct, we assumed that this was (a) wildly exaggerated for attention, (b) metaphorical, and addressed to four-year-old mythic structures that we could not readily comprehend, or (c) could be remedied with "well then give it a rest, skippy" type of instruction.
Eventually I was instructed by my dear wife to examine the penis in question. As you may recall and I have previously established, I am in charge of all penis-related issues in our household. Sort of. And she gets everything else.
Anyway, I take Evan into his bedroom for the medical check. It occurs to me that I should have a witness for this, lest Evan later describe it to third parties inaccurately and in a manner involving anatomically correct dolls. But Katrina is uninterested.
Sure enough, he has some redness and irritation under the foreskin. We agree to call the doc, and the duty nurse tells us to bring him in this morning. We tell Evan we will be consulting a medical professional in regards to his penis. This makes him extremely concerned. Medical professionals are characterized by their tendency to give him shots and do painful things to his finger wound. He wonders what a penis examination will involve. He goes through the usual toddler cycle, first insisting that he is not going to the doctor and then talking it out and proclaiming that he will go and not cry even if the doctor hurts his penis very very badly.
So what I’m saying is that he’s sort of come to grips, if you will excuse the expression, with the penis issue as of this morning. So naturally when we go to day care to drop off Abby first, he’s no longer troubled. He’s excited. Voluable.
"II’m going to the doctor because of my penis!" he shouts quite loudly to a friend across the courtyard, using a tone of voice customarily reserved for annoucements of births, major wars, or large things about to fall and/or pounce on someone. "Daddy’s going to ask the doctor about my penis! It has a rash! A big red rash!" he informs Abby’s teacher and classmates enthusiastically.
So here is where the problem starts. I would prefer that my son not make it a habit to shout about his penis. This will cause him social problems and eventually lead to other questionable public exhibitions like karaoke or poetry reading. On the other hand, I know I’m not supposed to give him hang-ups about his body and stuff. I can’t tell him it’s dirty and evil and not to talk about it, like my religious upbringing would suggest. So what to do? If the body and its functions are beautiful, might not one be moved to shout about it? He shouts about everything else. How to instill decorum without instilling things that will result in therapy and body-image problems later?
Ultimately I punt by distracting him with a fire-engine relation questions ("who would win a race, a fire truck or a tanker truck or a garbage truck?") I recognize this as a cowardly retreat from the existentinal parenting issue.
As it turns out, he doesn’t have a rash. It’s a wound from [warning: men do not read remainder of sentence if operating heavy machinery] a tear in the flesh connecting the foreskin. Ouch. We are to apply Neosporin. The doctor has no suggestions on applying it in a way that might not result in all his future sexual experiences triggering flashbacks of me saying "damnit, Evan, hold still!"
I’m not entirely sure that I want to be in charge of the penis stuff any more.
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