We have a serious problem in our house lately. I call it The Penis Problem. The Penis Problem began a few months ago, when my three year-old son, Davis,started wearing underwear. Freed from the restrictive, super absorbent polymers of his diaper, Davis’s penis had some lost time to make up for, and it didn’t waste a second. Within two days of being potty trained, Davis’s hand took up permanent residence down the front of his pants, as if it were an old person who’d decided to head south and retire, where it was warm. After another few days, however, Davis did away with pants entirely, preferring instead to spend hisdays in a shirt and nothing else. The Why We Must Wear Pants to School discussion became a part of ourmorning routine, like eating breakfast and brushing teeth.
The moment he gets home from school, however, the pants come off. And I really do mean the moment he gets home from school. He literally walks in the front door, and before he does anything else, he sits down in the foyer, flings off his shoes and socks, and with great relief, pulls off his pants and underwear and leaves it all in a little boy-pile by the front door. If you saw this, you’d think the pants weighed five hundred pounds and were made of metal, or lined with thumbtacks,maybe. With the Penis flapping in the wind, he then goes off and builds forts with the sofa pillows, plays Power Rangers, creates Lincoln Log behemoths, and practices skateboarding tricks. When he tires of all of this activity, he likes to just walk around and “twirl” himself. As in, "Davis, what are you doing with your penis right now?" "I’m twirling it, mama. I like it." ‘Kay.
In the last several days, he’s also discovered that his penis can do “tricks.” For example, when he woke up the other morning, he was screaming for me to come into his room. When I arrived, breathless and thinking something horrible had happened, I found him still in bed, his pajama pants casually lying on the floor. "Look mama!" He shouted, pointing at his morning erection, which, apparently, he’d never noticed before. "My penis got big;it can do magic tricks!" Or, like the other night, when I was getting him ready for bed, he discovered that he could make it look like “a hot dog” if he pushed it back so that it retracted into the skin, which he found to be enormously hilarious.
I know it’s all normal and I know he’ll get it under control eventually, so, why, you might ask, is his penis a Problem with a capital P? Well, why else? It’s the girls. For whatever reason, very few of my daughter’s friends have brothers, and when these friends come over to our house, my little pantless wonder is often their first exposure to the male anatomy. Sure, they’ve probably seen their dads, but it’s not the same as when it’s on a kid, who’s having fun twirling it. They stare at it. They laugh at it. Then they stare at it some more, and all I can think about is them going home and telling their mothers about the great playdate they had at our house with Harper and Davis and Davis’s penis. So I whisper to him. "Davis, you need to put your pants on when we have guests." "But, we’re at home," he argues. "You said I only have to wear pants when we go out." Which is true. I did say that. But what good am I as a mother if I don’t make up confusing, contradictory rules that change with each new circumstance?
So now we wear pants to school, and we wear pants when we have guests. But when we’re home with no guests, we don’t wear pants. I’m sure new circumstances will arise, and as they do, I’ll continue to make Penis rules asI see fit. But I’m really looking forward to a time when his penis becomes his problem, and not mine.