Recently, Brian Leaf’s son woke up to the fact that he doesn’t have any body hair, but that his father does.
This post originally appeared in Brian’s blog at Mothering.com, where he is the Dad blogger.
Kids have no filters. At nursery school pick-up, they’ll point out to their teacher that you didn’t wash your hands in the bathroom, or they’ll ask you loudly if a woman with a bit of a mustache is a man.
Eight years ago, before I was a parent, my four-year-old nephew shouted angrily at me in a public men’s bathroom, “Stop sticking your finger into my tushie!” (I was not, though, perhaps, I was wiping too thoroughly.)
More recently, though, my own son, Noah, woke up to the fact that I had hair on my body and that he didn’t. A developmental landmark, to be sure. Unfortunately, though, his fascination was not so much with my legs, or arms, or chest or even my beard. He was consumed by the fact that, amazingly, he had no hair down below—on that part of Michelangelo’s David that kids stare at—and I did.
He was obsessed, and demanded a viewing and a comparison at any possible opportunity. I don’t believe in making any bodily parts or processes taboo. For example, when little two-year-old Benjamin wants to inspect the goods before we dump his potty, absolutely. (I do draw the line when he wants to use it like play dough.) So, when Noah wants to view my hairy David, I go with it.
This came up recently at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, in Hadley, Massachusetts. Noah already loved the bathrooms there—not only are the walls tiled with images from Carle’s classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? but the urinals are etched with flies AND they have the cutest little mini toilets for the under-seven set.
We were in a crowded hallway of parents and kids headed to the craft room, when Noah realized he had to pee. Already excited for a trip to this bathroom to search for the blue horse tile, it hit Noah that he’d also have a chance to … “Daddy, I have to pee, and I want to see your hairy penis!!” In his jubilation, he lingered on the last two words, so it sounded like “hairyyy peeeeeniiiiis.”
Noah’s shrieking glee drew the full attention of the museum’s throngs of crafting parents and tots. All I could do was nod, smile, and offer a curt wave. But, of course, everyone there had kids too, so they understood perfectly.
Image of caterpillar eating leaf courtesy of Shutterstock