The Vagina Dialogues

I came home from work today and my son (9) met me at the door with a song about vaginas. I let him sing it and then asked him where he heard that word. I immediately felt the shame meter rising in the room, so I quickly told him he wasn't in trouble, but that he and I needed to talk about that word. It came out that somebody named Seth taught him the song today at school. When I asked him if he knew what vagina meant, he pointed to his chest. The song's lyrics went something like "Boys have small vaginas and girls have big ones..." So, with my incredible fatherly deductive powers, I reckoned that vagina is equated with breast in his mind or at least in the mind of savvy second grader Seth, who taught him the song. Well, looks like we'll spend some time talking about vaginas this weekend - just the guys. Should be good.

I'm not overly joyous about Seth lifting the skirt on sex for my son. However, it happens that way, like it or not. You can try and be proactive all you want, but it doesn't always work out that the way those guys who focus on your family say it does. I remember a second grade friend named Marcus Hines. Marcus' skin was as black as mine is white and he wore an afro and walked with a physicality I'm just now coming into at age 39. I remember the day in the boys bathroom when Marcus pulled out a picture that had been folded over several times and motioned for me to "come 'mere." What eventually unfolded was a woman whose skin was as black as mine is white, but who didn't have a stitch of clothes on to save her life. I recall some level of arousal at that moment, probably due to the fact that it was something we were doing in secret, hushed bathroom tones. The sexual aspect of that moment was overwhelming - I'd never seen anything like that or those before. And then it was over. Somebody came in and Marcus quickly put a wrap on the goods and we returned to the innocence of the playground, where teachers stood like heroes at the boundaries and girls were skipping rope in white Keds and Red-Rovered boys kept calling on the wimpy guys to try and break the line.

I don't know what all I'll say to my son. But we'll stumble through it. I'll probably tell him about Marcus Hines and hopefully he'll tell me a little more about Seth. But we won't talk about it in the bathroom; we'll probably go outside and swing - talk about grown-up things while doing a childlike thing. We'll try and get the breast/vagina difference cleared up; shouldn't be too difficult. I'll more than likely tell him that Seth is full of crap, like ole' Marcus was; boys trying to be men too fast, too soon. Maybe he'll ask me questions and I'll try and answer them. And maybe he'll say, "O.k. Can we swing some more?" And maybe, just maybe, vaginas and breasts will wait, not forever, but for just a little longer while I stand behind my boy and push him higher and higher. Then he'll say, "I got it dad." And I'll back up and watch him reach for the sky as geese honk overhead and the chain bounces beneath his weight. And maybe I'll hum a little song myself, though it won't have vaginas, big or small, in it. Maybe it will be a song of the boy, on the edge of the quest, swinging back to me for strength and clarity about things and swinging away from me into the world of boys like Seth eager to be men and girls with vaginas skipping rope in white Keds...

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful story. And grateful you can help explore that with him. What would life be, if we had someone help navigate the waters, and even more, give us a lens to see life. with honesty, and no shame. I like it. And I imagine, I will have to talk to you one day about how to do it, in a few years.