I often wonder what families do when all of their children are of the same gender. Do they have any idea what they are missing? I know that I would not be the same if I didn't have a little brother who surprised the family after four girls. Matt introduced me to the stench that only boy shoes can have, the art of belching, and general guy stuff. Anatomical differences and their discoveries at a young age, provide such interesting conversations, reactions and memories.
“You kicked me right in the uterus” was a statement that came from my young brother after receiving a soccer ball to the abdominal area. It's the perfect example of the obvious confusion that ensued for a young boy who was being raised with 5 females. I knew as a big sister, and someone who watched Magnum P.I., that Matt didn’t need to put a towel turban on his head or wrap another towel around his body full up to his armpits after exiting the shower. I knew that most little boys would not have chosen the maxi-pads under the bathroom sink to dry off their pet turtles after a swim in the tub. I thought sharing Tinkerbelle perfume with your little brother was normal until the Avon lady brought “Buckaroo” powder for boys. Did Matt find it odd that his sister had a stuffed orange hippo named Bosom? Did he know what that meant? I really didn’t have a deep appreciation for what Matthew had to endure with four older sisters until I became a mother of three kids...... two girls on either side of a boy.
My trio has had discussions concerning their physical differences but most discussions have occurred between Gus and Mabel due to their proximity in age. Mabel, age three, asked her big brother when her little penis would grow to be like his. Gus' answer was so interesting. Without pause he said, "Well, mine seemed to take off right after I turned two." Having a sister that is four years older provides opportunities for both Gus and Mabel. I found them reading Meg’s American Girl “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls”. I stood outside the door and listened to the comments that were shared like, “Wow, so Meg is going to get a fuzzy bottom?” Gus responded, “That means you will too.” And Mabel said, “No way man.” Gus read on and was able to sound out “breast buds” and said, “What does that mean?” and Mabel said, “Apparently, Meg will stand naked in front of her mirror and see little boobies and she’ll smile real big.” She pretty much nailed that one….the illustrations helped a lot!
One evening after giving Gus and Mabel a bath, I was applying Mabel’s many lotions and potions when Gus came in already in his pj's, and Mabel said, “So Gussie, where do you put your penis when you put pants on?” I did not react because they were so serious. Gus answered, “Well, it goes where it wants to so sometimes it goes to the right and sometimes it goes to the left.” Mabel said, “So your penis is ambidextrous?” Gus responded, "Maybe it's just trying to find a way out." The fact that I was able to maintain my composure is still a source of pride as is the fact that Mabel used the word, ambidextrous.
I recall shopping for bras with my sisters and my brother Matt was always there, in the trenches, hunting for my 32 A. Those are experiences that you can’t replicate if you come from a family of all boys. For my trio, the closest similar experience had to be shopping for Gus’ first athletic cup. Meg rolled her eyes a lot while hushing her very loud little sister who was giddy after I explained the contraption and it's purpose. Gus became increasingly uncomfortable as that same explanation was given, but Mabel proved to know way more than she should and took control of the endeavor. She knocked on every cup to ensure her brothers safety and then offered to test it out at home by throwing baseballs at Gus’ crotch. Meg did take the time to explain to Mabel that no, she would not some day need to buy one for herself, and that in turn explained why none of the cups were pink or accentuated with bling. The whole learning experience would not have happened if we didn’t get Gus between Meg and Mabel.
We have always practiced honesty and proper terminology with our children. Despite our practices, our kids still manage to get it wrong. Mabel said, “So I have a tiny penis but why doesn’t Gus have a tiny bagina?” Gus doesn't ask many questions but once he did inquire as to why Mabel's underwear didn't have an opening in the front. I must say that the kids have come so far with their understandings and I fear that the days of these oh so entertaining discussions are coming to an end.
Although our son Gus is just 8 years old, he is acutely aware of his sister’s idiosyncrasies and he is man enough to play with Littlest Pet Shops and Squinkies. He's obviously in touch with his feminine side and he ensures that his sisters get in touch with their masculine side. How sad would it be to miss out on force farting, slide tackling, all things related to the penis and testicles, and the thrill of collecting baseball cards? Now how my little brother figured that he had a uterus is beyond me but just the other day Mabel said, “Mom, Gus’ pitch hit me right in the balls.” Would we hear that if Gus wasn’t around? I think not.