Grumpy about my boy’s jewels

Last night in the bath Nick had a funny look on his face, while his hands did something under the bubbles.

“Everything okay, buddy?” I asked.

“What is this hard thing?”


“In my penis.”

Eh? Show me, I said, trying to act all laid back while cringing inside.

“Right here.” He showed me his very tiny scrotum. “Oooh. There are TWO hard things,” he announced with a look in his eyes, somewhere between curiosity and deep concern. “What are they?” I tried to hide my wincing.

Thus commenced my four-year-old’s introduction to reproductive ideas.

I want to be anatomically correct in this sort of chatter, and not too euphemistic (except when I am), but I’m not ready to talk sex with the kids yet. Sometimes I think I worry too much about the right way to introduce them to the complex social and cultural and personal and reproductive issues that percolate around genitalia.

Last month Jesse asked, “how does the piece of the daddy that becomes part of the baby get inside the mommy’s body?” I didn’t even evade. “I’m not ready to tell you that yet, Jesse. Also I think it’ll freak you out.” Oddly enough, she accepted that and let it go, which tells me she’s already making some good guesses in her head.

It was easier for me to walk this early path with Jesse because she’s a girl, and I’m a girl, so there you go. I know how our business works and where it is. Nick is more awkward for me, but I gave it a go last night. I explained what I think those hard things are called. I told him to repeat the relevant words, like “scrotum,” “testicles,” and “sperm.” (Very cute, by the way. “Scwo-dem? Testicows?”) We chatted a bit about what their function is, only no details about how to share, god help me. The conversation petered out fairly quickly, for which I was thankful.

As the bath was winding down, Anthony wandered into the bathroom. I told him what Nick had discovered. I was feeling a little pensive and uneasy. I asked him, what would you say to Nick if he asked you about the little hard things in his penis?

“Oh those? Those are just your balls.” Anthony shrugged nonchalantly and wandered back out.