My ten-year-old son has hair on his testicles. I know this because upon returning to our home after I walked the dogs one afternoon, my son yelled out “Mom! I have hair on my testicles!” This is not how I imagined motherhood.
I have been increasingly caught in between mostly fiction-based nostalgia for my oldest son’s quickly fleeting childhood and a weird, angsty combination of dread and excitement about his impending tween-hood. As it turns out, I don’t like small children that are mine. I did not realize this until I had a child. Surprisingly I did not relish hours upon hours building train tracks and sorting Hot Wheels by color and size in row upon row.
I was looking forward to not having to pull myself off the floor after hours of block building. To being able to let him free range it a bit. To not have to entertain him constantly and be engaged with him at unnaturally expected level. We’d be able to have conversations about real things. I never thought these things would include his balls.
“Are you sure?!” I asked, in response to his proclamation. “Yes! I pulled some out!” he responded, pleased as punch with himself. I had no idea how to proceed with this. I am a divorced mom. I was an only child. I went to a women’s college. I am completely and utterly unprepared for nut hair. And, of course, I have two boys.
“Um, why don’t you tell your Dad?” I suggested. “EW.NO!,” my horrified child who spent the majority of his time with me, the opposite sex parent, responded. And there in lies the problem here that I did not anticipate. Being married with sons is cool because there’s a clear division of parenting: the mom handles every single goddamn thing and the dad handles any issues that arise between the hip bone and the knee bone.
Not knowing how to proceed I asked, calmly and hesitantly, “Do you want me to look?” “If you want,” he answered back. A million thoughts went racing through my head. Among them were “NO I DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT YOUR JUNK! I SPENT ENOUGH TIME UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH IT BETWEEN THE AGES OF ZERO AND THREE. I’M NOT GOING BACK THERE AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. I HADN’T SEEN A MAN PEE UNTIL WELL INTO MY MARRIAGE. I’M SURROUNDED BY PENISES (PENII?) ALL THE TIME. YOU PEOPLE HAVE THEM OUT WHEN YOU WATCH TV. STILL. I THOUGHT THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A PHASE. WHY DO I HAVE TO SAY THINGS LIKE “I DON’T THINK YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BEND IT LIKE THAT” OR YELL “STOP DOING ORIGAMI WITH YOUR PENIS!” FROM ACROSS THE ROOM? WHY? DID OEDIPUS’ MOTHER HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS SHIT? IS THAT HOW IT STARTED?
But I kept it all inside and just said, “No, I’m good.” In some ways I’ve proud because clearly, painfully clearly, I have raised my boys with body confidence and no shame. But maybe a little shame would be nice? Or just give it a rest sometimes? Because my life is basically one, tiny, never-ending, unsolicited dick pic.
At bedtime, I calmly circled back to his new hair down there. I told him he could always come to me with any questions or concerns and I’d do my best to answer them. Possibly I’d have been more prepared if the sex education night his school had held for the boys allowed moms to go. But it was a dad-son only event, and he didn’t even go. So he didn’t know what was happening fully and I didn’t either. The only thing I really know for sure about penises is that I enjoy them when they’re full-sized and that I can create them with my own body.
So, now, almost eleven years into parenting, my prayers of not having to engage in floor time have been answered. And, instead, that time has been replaced by having to Google such questions as “How to talk to boys about pubic hair” and “Sex ed for sons by single moms.” We are having more meaningful, adult-like conversations, sure, but they’re about things like why his penis gets hard. Be careful what you wish for.