10 Unwelcome Questions Kids Ask About Their Changing Bodies

by Jill Veldhouse
Originally Published: 
A brown-haired girl in a black shirt lying on the grass and smiling, and next to her are daises.

I knew it was coming. My feelers have been out for months, anticipating the inevitable. The Body Changes letter. DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!

Childhood memories of my own immediately surface as I remember sitting nervously amongst my grade school peers, trying desperately to look cool while secretly digging an escape route to China under my desk. Just the word PENIS spoken out loud was enough to send half of the class into a statuesque shock and the other half into bouts of awkward posturing interrupted by nervous laughter. Add the DIAGRAM on top of it and the whole world seemed to stand still. Time stopped. I’m sure of it. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Yep, there it is, staring at us with its one beady little eye, embracing its good buddy the scrotum, both spelled out in bold letters on the chalkboard as if we were going to take notes for later reference or something.

What kind of a word is scrotum anyway? It just sounds gross, regardless of its meaning.

Thankfully, I am a grown-up now and no longer have to participate in such potentially humiliating public instructional forums against my will. My kids, however, are not so lucky. It’s an uncomfortable, yet necessary, rite of passage. My goal as a mother is to make the process as educationally painless as possible. I really have no problem discussing the subject matter with them. We don’t sit around the dinner table and openly discuss human anatomy, but if they ask a question, I answer them in very general, age appropriate terms. I tend to reference the penis in conversation as I would the elbow or any other body part, with direct eye contact and as little awkward posturing as possible.

Above all things, I want to create an open line of communication. I’d rather have some control over their learning curve than wait for them to stumble upon it on the Internet and/or hear about it from some know-it-all asshole on the school playground. I choose to play offense. As such, in anticipation of this glorious event, I bought my child “the book” a few weeks back and gave it to her with instructions to skim through it at her own pace. I promised to sit down and read it with her and discuss it point by point at a time of her choosing down the road.

One hour later she threw the book onto my lap. “Finished Mom.”

I was expecting many questions, none of which were the following list.

1. “So you know those pictures of how boobs grow? What stage are you in Mom?”

“The last stage.”

“Umm, yours don’t look like that.”

What I wanted to say: “You are so incredibly perceptive and spot-on, dear child. This is what four decades of basic life and three breastfeeding children will do to your boobs. It pretty much sucks. I know they look like they should have a category of their own, or maybe they don’t even qualify as breasts anymore. Regardless, thank you for stating the obvious and giving me one more reason to never walk around the house naked again.”

What I actually said: “This is a cartoon illustration and cartoons aren’t real. Nobody’s look exactly like that. It’s a generalization.”

2. “So do you even need to wear a bra?”

What I wanted to say: “Fuck you.”

What I actually said: “Probably not, but it’s socially appropriate and it makes mommy feel better about herself.”

3. “What do you call that stuff that leaks into your underwear again?”

What I wanted to say: “Vaginal discharge.”

What I actually said: “Vagina juice.” What can I say, I froze.

4. “What is Virginia juice Mom?”

What I wanted to say: “It’s pronounced Vagina honey.”

What I actually said: “It’s pronounced Vagina honey.”

5. Middle child pipes in from a distance: “Do I have a Virginia Mommy?”

What I wanted to say: “It’s pronounced Vagina! And yes, all girls have one.”

What I actually said: “Go play.”

6. Middle child who never does as told: “What’s a Virginia Mommy?”

What I wanted to say: “Stop saying Virginia! It’s VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!”

What I actually said: “It’s a state honey.”

7. “Why is it called the ‘Public Area’ mommy? Because (nervous pointing and disgusted eye roll), it should not be public at all!”

What I wanted to say: “It’s actually called the ‘Pubic Area’ sweetie, named for the bone located in that general area.”

What I actually said: “Exactly!”

8. “What does menstruate mean?”

What I wanted to say: “It means that once a month hundreds of sleeping ninjas in your gut will awaken with a vengeance and try to claw their way from the inside out. You will feel like punching everyone in the face, your own face will sprout unsightly things, you will have to wear a diaper in and/or outside of your ass, and no one around you will give a shit.”

What I actually said: “Every woman does it. It’s a gift. This is what allows us to bear children.”

9. “Does Daddy do it?”

What I wanted to say: “Nope, lucky son of a bitch!”

What I actually said: “Nope, guys don’t get to do it. Only girls. We’re special that way.”

10. “What does Daddy get to do?”

What I wanted to say: “Smile and have a penis.”

What I actually said: “Take the garbage out.”

I was prepared to answer where babies came from. I was prepared to demonstrate proper use of the sanitary napkin. I was prepared to delve into the pros and cons of societal shaving trends. Yet, here I sit, puzzled, trying to argue my decision to wear a bra by explaining to my children why objects that might appear nonexistent in space still succumb to the earth’s gravitational pull. Not to mention my own indolent Virginia, whose worthless accessory muscles make pissing my pants when I so much as sigh heavily a common occurrence, the promise that the ninja bastards will soon be awake and ready to play yet again, and the ridiculous task of trying to convince my sweet daughters that it’s all something to look forward to with enthusiasm, like a goddamn party filled with unicorns, rainbows, and butterfly wings for that added bit of reassurance just when you need it the most.

I want a new topic. And a boob job. Not necessarily in that order.

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