Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Big Kid Underwear

Well, we are in day three of big kid underwear. While we were getting dressed Monday, Ben took a good hard look at me, and pointing to my crotch said, "Momma, you pee?"

I explained that, yes, I pee there. "You got a penis?" he asked, hands on his hips.

"No, I don't. Boys have penises and scrotum, girls have clitorises and labia," instantly nearly regretting dishing out these terms to a three year old, but I am determined to raise a child unafraid of anatomy. And it didn't seem right to just say that a girl lacks a penis, without taking credit for what girls have--we're different, not deficient.

"Oh," says Ben, the subtlety of my political stuggle completely lost on him. Then: "Wear underwear, Momma?" as I was taking mine from the drawer.

"Yes," say I, thinking he means mine.

"Ben's big kid underwear?" he asks, and runs to his room where they have been just waiting for this moment of conscious mind. So off we went to Peachtree in our Lightning McQueen underwear. It's been a mixed success, but the good women of Peachtree and I are determined to continue down this path. We now have Incredibles, Thomas the Train and Cars underwear (well, sad to say, not me, just Ben.)

It makes me wistful, and proud, and reflective. Where did my baby go? When did we start talking in words? When did he stop being small enough to easily hold all of a piece, instead of gangly legs hanging down to my knees?

It was two years ago I wrote this about my diaper-wearin' toddler:

War Cry

Wooden spoon held aloft,
Ben shouts “Yala bada !”
A sly grin plays across his sweet face.
The toddler’s wooden scimitar
lands squarely on the dog's haunch.
The canon shot of my “No!”
makes both Ben and the dog jump.

Ben begins his studied reaction.
Eyes fastened on mine,
the corners of his rosebud lips turn down,
he opens his mouth just enough so
those darling new white teeth shine.
He tilts his plump-cheeked head back.
His chin quivers. Brow knitted,
he half closes his eyes.
A low moan, meant to be crying,
escapes his artful mouth.

No tears come.
“Don’t hit the dog,” I say
and take the spoon.
He throws himself
across Sam’s back,
wailing increases
to perfect pitch.

I put my hand under his chin
raising his face for my inspection.
He pretends to look away,
rolling his eyes to the very
edge of my face.
Still no tears.

“You know you shouldn’t
hurt poor old Sam.” I say,
and take away my hand.
Ben reaches for the spoon:
I hold it aloft.
The wail continues,
still no tears.
“No,” I say,
more softly than before.
“You can’t have the spoon
if you’re going to hit the dog.”

He hits my leg.
“And don’t hit your momma,”
I say sharply.
The wail increases.

The dry-eyed cry of a toddler
is perfectly designed.
Soon, I scoop him up.
His wailing ceases instantly.
His head rests so sweetly,
so warmly on my shoulder,
I can’t help but smile,
enjoying the weight of him,
resting after our skirmish,
his trusting body limp beneath my hands.

Peace returns to the house.
Sam goes back to sleep.
Ben squirms to be let down
and heads for the kitchen
and a rubber spatula
he left near the door.

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