There is a point when every child realises that boys and girls are different. Quite early on they start behaving differently and there is nothing you can do about it. Anna is a very girly girl. Somehow without us realising what was happening she became obsessed by princesses, Disney films and Barbie. She gets in a grump whenever you suggest she wears jeans because she cannot understand why a girl would not want to be wearing a party dress at all times, regardless of the occasion. She recently told Carolyn that she loved her but loved her more when she was wearing pretty dresses. When Anna talks about boys at school she talks about how they are naughty and run around too much. I don't imagine it is only the boys who are naughty at school but it's what Anna would have you believe.
But there is of course another big difference between boys and girls. They have got different bits. Anna spotted this early on and as time went on this led to her noticing the implications of this - "Daddy! Why are you standing up and weeing?! How can you even do that?" When Anna was three I remember getting out of the shower as she opened the bathroom door and strolled in (privacy being something I lost in 2010). She looked at me and pointed. "Wow Daddy, that looks like one of the Muppets!" It took me a minute to realise that she was comparing me to Gonzo.
But this wasn't unexpected. We knew it was going to happen. So we bought her anatomically correct babies - 'dolls with dicks'. We didn't keep anything from her. We figured honesty was the best policy. Boys have willies and girls have bits (we still haven't come up with a better word yet! So 'bits' it is). Oh and girls have boobs too. Iris doesn't quite get this yet - she understands that some women have boobs but isn't convinced that all do. It would seem that boobs have to be of a certain size before Iris will acknowledge them. "Mummy boobs. Not that lady." So the girls have a basic grasp of the relevant anatomy. Not long after mastering toilet training Anna came out of the toilet and announced "Little hole for wee and big hole for poo!" Yeah, she kind of gets the basics.
But this week something came up which we hadn't really anticipated. Both girls were in the bath and playing with their dolls. Anna's was a little baby boy. I was coming up the stairs and could hear the conversation Carolyn and Anna were having.
"Yes Anna, they all do."
"No they don't."
"Yes, every boy has them."
"Um, I don't think so."
"Seriously Anna. Every boy has them."
Bollocks - for some reason I hadn't ever thought about them coming up in conversation with a four year old. I looked in through the doorway. Anna's face slightly confused. She was trying to work out whether Carolyn was winding her up. I tried to help Carolyn out.
"Mummy's right Anna. I've got some!"
"Well, what are they then?"
"They are called testicles."
"Sometimes Anna, they get called balls."
This really seemed to tickle Anna. She burst out laughing.
"Boys have balls near their willies?! Ha ha ha!"
So this went on for a little while. More questions from Anna. Us two trying to our best to answer her with an answer she could understand.
"Well what are they for then?"
I started to answer. I have no idea why I even tried.
"They help the mummies to make babies Anna."
For Anna that was the final straw. She really thought I was making it up now.
"Ha ha ha. They can't do that Daddy! You are being very silly."
She paused then. She was trying to work out if anything I had told her was true.
"Ok then Daddy. I think you are just going to have take your trousers off and show me."
I declined her request. I'm not sure what her final thoughts on the matter were. I don't know whether she thinks balls are a real thing or not. I suppose we will just have to wait and see. Iris however decorated this gingerbread man the next day... she seems to get it.
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