Several months ago my Smiling Son began to notice his penis would “stick up.” Usually this was in the middle of the night, or in the mornings, when he had to urinate. I was a bit freaked out by it, but not noticeably so. As you can imagine, I haven’t seen a lot of erect penises. The first time I had to redirect it so his pee would actually go in the toilet, I was actually a little weirded out. But I didn’t give it too much thought.
Last week, he began to ask me about it. He wondered why it dis this and what it meant? I didn’t have a good answer, but I knew the Internets did – so I got online to get some advice. My Wonderful Wife is doing a great job of teaching these things to our Darling Daughter. Now it’s my turn to step up and teach our son – without scarring him for life.
I can’t imagine how parents handled these issues before the Internet. Well, actually I can – because I was raised by parents who wouldn’t tough these subjects. My Dad didn’t have “the talk” with me until I was about 12 or 13. Which was too late, by the way. And anytime my body went through changes related to puberty, my parents got embarrassed and changed the subject. I don’t want to raise my kids that way.
We have always used correct verbiage when relating to body parts and functions. We are just matter of fact and we don’t avoid talking about these things. We don’t tease them, make fun, or refer to these things with sarcasm or put downs. So, after a brief search online, and reading some very good advice, this is how I talked to my son about his erections:
- First, I told him that “this is normal.”
- Second, “it happens to all men and boys,” I offered.
- Third, I said “it usually happens when we have to urinate” – or at other times.
- Fourth, I explained that “if we just go pee, or forget about it, it will go away.”
At this point, he was satisfied with my explanation and we moved on to other topics. As with many discussions about “sensitive” topics, the experts suggest you not share too much, or explain more than the kids are prepared to handle. So, I stopped My five year-old doesn’t care about reproduction and all the details about what erections are for. But he will! Because of that, I’ll be ready for the next conversations.
Interestingly, after we had this little chat, and as I was saying goodnight to Smiling Son and Darling Daughter (who is now eight), my son mentioned that he had an erection – which caused my daughter to ask questions. I wasn’t quite ready for that conversation – but as we talked, I realized this was a good discussion for her too. And it didn’t really go much further than the earlier conversation with my son.
My daughter wrapped up the conversation telling me about watching a male horse pee. We had been at a branding earlier in the day, and I saw her watching this horse and how fascinated she was by the experience. Later my wife and I talked – our conclusion – there’s nothing like a life on the farm, or ranch, to educate your kids.
Note: When I started this blog, I thought it would be a good place to process my learning curve as a parent. Somewhere along the way, it became a place to process my own passage into adulthood – inspired by my kids, my wife, my employment, and other aspects that come along. Since life is beginning to sort itself out, I want to return to my original paradigm and vision for this space.