This post is part of the “I’m a Military Spouse” series, a week-long celebration leading up to Military Spouse Appreciation Day documenting the joys of military spousedom.
I’m a military spouse.
That means that I’m married to a service member who deploys regularly, travels frequently and, when he’s home, works 12+ hour days.
Which means that I am usually the one left to answer all the curious little boy questions.
Because really, it would be too easy if the adult WITH the special member was home to discuss said anatomical part with the three others in our home who have them. And want to know about them. And want to help me find mine.
When Superhero 2 was 3, we were racing cars in the family room of our Washington home when he tripped and fell in my lap. He stood up abruptly and then apologized.
“Mama,” he cried, “I’m so sorry I fell on your penis!”
When I told him that I didn’t have a penis, he furrowed his brow in concern.
“Oh, you lost yours? I help you find it!” he announced, as he began searching under every pillow and blanket on our couch for my lost genitalia.
As I tried not to crush my son’s hopes and dreams of discovering my non-existent part, I tried to explain to him, with the most straightforward face possible, that Mama is a girl and girls do not have penises, they have vaginas. (Thank you, physician assistant, for insisting on using correct anatomical terminology and then LEAVING to not comply with your own policy.)
When I asked Superhero 2 if he understood everything we talked about, he looked me straight in the face, shook his head and said, “Yup. Boys have penises, girls have China.”
Which made for a very interesting conversation when we told him the following year that we were bringing home his baby brother. From China.
Of course, that conversation only set the stage for future daddy-less conversations about parts Mommy didn’t have.
Like the one following our visit to the giraffe exhibit at the local zoo, where our long-necked friends were mating very publicly in ways that would have made Nat Geo photographers blush.
(Supersoldier was at work.)
And the one where Superhero 2, upon seeing one of the players from his big brother’s football team exit the field to go rush his mom to the hospital so she could deliver a baby, asked VERY LOUDLY how babies are made. And then, when he couldn’t hear my response over the crowd, asked how babies are REALLY made. And then asked at the top of his lungs, “BUT HOW DO THEY GET THERE?”
Supersoldier and I have a policy that we answer completely and directly (at an age-appropriate level) any questions our superheroes ask, using correct anatomical terms (thanks, Supersoldier), no matter how awkward, no matter how inconvenient the question-asking location.
God saved me from that bullet, because as I braced myself to say the word “intercourse” in earshot of people I was still trying to friend speed date at our new duty station, an unexpected touchdown and a roaring crowd kept me from explaining in detail the birds and the bees at a small town flag football game where 12 parents were now pretending not to listen to my sex education class on the sidelines.
(Supersoldier was TDY.)
But He didn’t save me from the conversation I had to behold in the sporting goods store, where I took Superhero 2 to purchase his first athletic cup.
I never played sports. My siblings didn’t play sports. In fact, no one in my family ever played sports. So walking into a sports store ALREADY felt like walking into a foreign country with no knowledge of the language or culture WITHOUT having to ask the 16-year-old employee where he kept his jock straps. And not HIS jock straps. His STORE’S jock straps.
And oh the world that opened up to three little boys who stared in amazement at the collection of items that might protect their boy parts from future light saber fight wounds.
“THESE go on your PENIS?!” Superhero 3 yelled. The kid had barely been introduced to grass, car seats and moving vehicles. Athletic cups were just beyond his comprehension.
Excited to explore these foreign objects these boys had never known, all three of them took off, grabbing product after product to feel, check the durability of and hold up, in order that Superhero 2 might get the ultimate in penis protection.
At one point, groping himself with one hand and reading the labels on a package he held in the other, Superhero 2 asked, “Mom, is this supposed to fit tightly? Like, should my penis be all smooshed in there? Or is it just supposed to flop around?”
Normally, I would look up YouTube tutorials while my husband was away on subjects that fell into his area of expertise. But I somehow didn’t think that “How to Fit a Cup” would be a guaranteed G-rater for three sets of already overwhelmed eyes.
So we just guessed as Superhero 3 came flying around the corner with a different option.
"No, no, no, your penis not that big!” he cried, and shoved what he perceived to be a better fitting option into his brother’s hand.
As the three boys stood at the end of the aisle, comparing the size of their boy parts and very publicly groping themselves in the name of a “good fit,” I thought momentarily about planning my escape.
No, I always shop the local retail stores with a child-less stroller in tow. It makes a great cart.
No, those aren’t my children. Not even the one who is about 5 seconds and two brother dares away from stripping down in the middle of the aisle to make sure he has the perfect balance of smooshiness and dangliness.
Alas, after a fierce athletic cup debate, someone had to pay for the winning penis protector, at which point, I was identified as the mother of the boy part measurers in aisle 4.
(Supersoldier was, of course, deployed.)
Don’t worry, Supersoldier, I still love you! This will only cost you three foot rubs, four hours of talking about your feelings and six romantic comedy nights – nothing compared to your tab after missing the birth of your now very proud, cup-bearing superhero.
#TeamCuthrell for life. :)