Tuesday, October 04, 2005

When the ABC's and the Birds and the Bees Collide

We're trying to teach the kids, Kaleb especially, the sounds associated with letters in the alphabet: Kindergarten Prep 101. Sometimes, while driving, I practice with Kaleb and Leah.

“What does 'bird' start with? B-b-b-bird?”

“B,” Kaleb will say.

About a month ago we were on the letter P.

“What does 'popcorn' start with? P-p-p-popcorn?”

“B,” Kaleb said.

“Not quite. Listen again. P-p-p-popcorn.”


“Good job.”

After nearly 10 minutes of silence I heard him mumble to himself. “Pee-pee.” I assumed we had finished our alphabet game and that Kaleb was now exercising his potty humor. I said, “Kaleb,” in my warning voice.

“Mom, 'pee-pee' starts with the letter P,” he said.

Oh, we were still educating. “That's good, Kaleb,” I said.

I heard him mumble to himself again. “P-p-p-penis.” He called to me from the back. “Heh, Mom. 'Penis' starts with the letter P too.”

These are the times you wonder about all that talk of teaching children the anatomically correct terms for their body parts. You also wonder when it's going to become a matter of public discourse, like in a primary class or during a preschool lesson. Luckily for me, the next time the topic came up was at bedtime a few weeks later.

Leah, my potty-training resistant child, asked, “Mommy, where do girls go pee-pee?” Thinking this might be the piece of information holding her back, I answered with exuberance. “In the bathroom, sweetie, just like boys.”

“No,” she said. “Where does the pee-pee come out?”

Kaleb, our resident know-it-all answered, “Pee-pee comes out of your penis.”

Do we really have to have this conversation, I thought. I was tired, and it seemed like just days ago when we had this same conversation while Kaleb was potty training. Maybe it wouldn't require too much clarification this time round.

“Where's my penis?” Leah asked.

“You don't have a penis,” I said. “You have a vagina.”

“Bagina starts with the letter B,” Leah said.

“No. V-v-v-vagina starts with the letter V, like 'vitamins',” I said.

“Does Kaleb have a bagina too?” she asked.

“No,” Kaleb butted in. “Boys have penises and girls have baginas.”

“V-v-v-vaginas,” I said.

I was saying these two words more in one conversation than I probably had in over ten years.

“Do daddies have baginas?” Leah asked.

“No,” I said. “Daddies have penises.”

“Do mommies have baginas?” Leah asked.

“Yes. Mommies have vaginas and daddies have penises,” I said.

“B-b-b-bagina starts with the letter V,” Leah said.

Great, I thought. An alphabet lesson and a discussion on the Birds and the Bees all in one day. I just killed a bird and the letter V with one stone.

And with that, my two children began to fall asleep.