Audrey has been taking swimming lessons since we got out of school. She's as brown as a bean, truly a Coppertone baby, and I point at her as she prances around, lifting an eyebrow at Mr W: "Do you see my good work? That tan, that's all me," I giggle. Of course I can giggle now, after class--it wasn't so funny earlier, in the locker room, when I accidentally shot sunscreen right into her eye. Ooops.
Speaking of locker rooms, on our way out of the pool today, she was on her third "Mommy? I was wondering..." (it's her current way of phrasing a question, and I hear it a million times a day); I was on autonod, automm-hhm when I realized she was walking into the boys' locker room. "Let's go in here," she said, mischievous glint in her eye. "What? No," I said, as I put a hand on her shoulder to guide her back out. She giggled, then said, "I want to see the boys. I want to see...their...noodles." There's an interesting turn of events, I thought to myself, suddenly sensitive to the swirl of Moms and kids around us.
"Noodles?" I asked her, cocking my head to the side, moving her along ahead of the pack. "Yeah. You know, their wieners."
This is going from bad to worse, I thought. Aw, honey. If it's a noodle, you don't really want to see it. Whoa, girl, filter ON, snap out of it.
As we turn the corner, continuing our way out of the locker room, I ask her, "Where'd you hear that?" "Ryan. He told me not to hit Ben in his private place because I'd hit his wiener and that hurts." Ah, anatomical wisdom from a sage 9 year old. Fabulous.
Why am I squeamish? I wonder. Has it been that long since I had this discussion with her brothers? All that "use the right term" blather with all the adults who might be asked this question, and here I am, blanching at 'wiener'? Be the grown up, I scold myself.
I take a deep breath. "Well, honey, he's right. It would hurt if you hit Ben in his private place. That's because boys have their private parts on the outside. It's called a penis," I said, looking over my shoulder for eavesdroppers as we enter the parking lot, playing my sudden film of sweat off to the heat, as I walked her faster, faster, to the van. "A penis," she repeated, trying the word out herself. "Boy private parts are on the outside?" she repeats, as I see she has a spark of understanding, and moves on to the next question: "So what are our (girl) private parts called?"
Of course. Of course that was next, what did I expect? She's a bright girl. Too late to turn back now. I can do this, I reassure myself. I'm ready! I'm enlightened!
Still, I stumble on it. "Um, ah.." Do I give her the whole deal? Good lord. Keep it simple. "um...It's called a vagina," I replied, saying it out the side of my mouth, over my shoulder down at her, like I was asking for something illegal. "Ah-G-INA?" she parrots. I whirl my head, surveying the parking lot, estimating how many feet to the van, "No, sweetie, vagina," I say again. "An-gina?" I wish. "Vuh. VUH-JA-INA." Oh, the hell with it. I say it, intoning the syllables, restraining myself from the cutesy "va-jay-jay" (thank you, Gray's Anatomy), from "hootchiekoo", from every other thing that would make us giggle and probably entice her to repeat it wherever we go at random and at probably the worst time.
"And girl parts?...." "...are on the inside," I say, finishing her thought. Holding back: And neater. And prettier. Please. I'm a fan of the boy parts, but we all know that's true.
We are steps away from the van. "Because the boy private parts are on the outside, it's very important to not kick or hit your brothers there, it is very painful," I remind her. Besides, I think I might like grandchildren some day, don't knock your poor brothers' goods.
I realize I left out "scrotum" and "testicles". At this point, however, we were in the van, and she was more concerned with what we might havefor lunch. Parts were forgotten in lieu of:
"Can I have McDonalds?"
Honey, you can have Peking duck, I'm so glad you didn't say "noodles."
Top Ramen will never be the same.