Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Girl Stuff"

When we visited Minnesota for Thanksgiving, my 5-year-old nephew, Ben, saw me bake cookies, change diapers, and feed Simon. Looking very contemplative as I shaped cookies onto the baking sheet, he asked me:

"Do you do a wot of giwl stuff, Unca' Dabid?"

"Ben, sweetheart, there's no such thing as 'girl stuff,' or 'boy stuff.' Men and women can be teachers, firefighters, doctors, rocket scientists, or hair stylists. Men and women can cook, clean, care for children, and bake delicious cookies. Except for a couple of biological things, there's almost nothing your Mom can do that your Dad can't...and there's almost nothing your daddy can do that your mommy can't."

[Long pause while Ben thinks this over]

"Wot awe th'biowogical things girls can do that boys can't?"

"Women can make babies in their tummies. Men can't do that."

[Long pause while Ben considers this]

"wot awe th'biowogical things boys can do that girls can't?"

"Boys can comfortably pee while standing up."

[Short pause]

"Why can boys do that and giwls can't?"

"Boys have penises that make it very easy to point what direction their urine goes in- just by pointing the penis."

"But...giwls have *vaginas*!"

"Yep. You're right. Girls have vaginas."

"But a vagina is just wike a penis!"

"No, Ben. A vagina is not just like a penis."

"Wot does a vagina wook wike?"

[Pause while David considers an answer which is both true and simple enough for a 5-year-old to grasp]

"Well, you know how your penis and testicles stick out of your body?"


"Well, for girls, the important parts are tucked away inside their bodies, so there isn't a lot to see from the outside. I think you know that, though- you've taken a bath with your sister."

"Oh yeah. Dat's wight!"

I later repeated this conversation to my brother, Andrew, Ben's Dad. First, Andrew was perfectly satisfied that I gave Ben truthful, simple, and appropriate answers. Second, he was impressed that I actually satisfied Ben enough that Ben elected to stop asking further questions. This, Andrew tells me, is the real accomplishment.

Me, I was just pleased to reinforce the idea that there's no such thing as "boy stuff" or "girl stuff."


lalcorn said...

David, you rock. As an aunt of 10 and counting, I say this with authority. Well done, Unca' Dabid.

With respect from Aunt Wee.

Martha Hardy said...

You are a force for good in the universe! I don't believe in girl stuff or boy stuff either.