Questions. Children have them. They are a never-ending chasm of questions and wonder. Of course, we want to encourage their questioning, their desire to know. Some damn days the answers don’t come as easily as we would like, though.

The other day Professor Chaos bolted into the living room, presumably basking in the glory of the removed baby gate, and positioned himself at the end of the couch. He had a question. Tilting his rainbow colored head to the side he began:

“Mom, dad says that boys can have vaginas and girls can have penises,” I confirmed that what his father had told him was correct and then I waited for the question(s) that I knew were about to follow.

“Well, how is that?” I breathed a sigh of relief, that one would be fairly easy to explain. I told him that people don’t always feel that their outside matches the person inside, so they take steps in a long process to make that happen. Sometimes that means changing everything, sometimes that just means a few things change. What’s in their underwear doesn’t define if they are male or female, though, the person defines that.

He nodded in understanding and then said, “Well, I get that. That’s not what I’m asking, though”. Then my heart skipped a beat because there wasn’t going to be anything easy about this conversation.

He started again “I want to know how they have a penis or vagina”. I looked at him for a moment, slightly confused, because we’ve discussed reproduction before, but he’s only seven and it’s been a while so I figured he needed a refresher. “Well, it happens in the womb when the baby is forming.” Then we watched a video on male and female sex organs and a four-minute time-lapse animated video on fetal development.

Job complete. High five mom...or not.

He shifted on the couch and then locked his brown eyes on mine, “So that’s what I looked like when I was inside you?” “Yes, I replied, "sort of. You didn’t look exactly like that at the end, but all the rest of the stuff is right.” Mission complete. The victory march plays in my head and then… “I already know all that stuff, though.  That’s not what I’m trying to ask.”

Damn it.

“Well”, I asked exasperated, “what, exactly, do you want to know?”
“I want to know how they are that way. Why couldn’t they just be born the way they want to be?”
Holy shit. This parenting thing was supposed to be simple. Go back to when I could just put something shiny in your face or turn on Blue’s Clues to end a line of questioning clearly above my pay grade and worldly intelligence.

I had to admit I didn’t really know how or why and do my best to say something of use. “Their reproductive organs develop one way, while who they are as a person develops another way. No one can tell another person who they are, that’s for all of us to discern for ourselves. Our job is to love and support everyone. Just know that we’ll love you no matter how you identify, OK?” He nodded his understanding and then my inquiring mind needed to know if he felt like a boy, a girl, or something else. He responded he felt like a pony, like Rainbow Dash. Then he lamented his disappointment in my not letting him have blue skin, I told him one day we could get him a blue bodysuit. He thought it was a fair trade. I reminded him one more time that we would love him no matter what, to which he sighed and said “Mom, I know! You guys tell me everyday”, before dashing out of the room.
I patted myself on the back and then I got myself a beer.
I’m still waiting for this parenting thing to get easier. I’m starting to believe that’s a lie told by people to keep us in the parenting trenches for the long haul.

Copyright(c)2015 Rayven Holmes


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