“Come on come on come ON!” I mutter at the red light. I grip the steering wheel, and shift uncomfortably in my seat.
“What’s wrong, Mum?” Mr 5 asks. “I’m busting!” I tell him, “I just want to get home!”
“I’ve got a good idea,” Thing 1 pipes up, “Just get the end of your penis and squeeze it together really tight to stop the wee coming out.” I am too distracted to correct him, but Mr 5 wastes no time. “She doesn’t HAVE a penis, silly, she’s a girl!”
“No, girls have penises too,” Thing 1 maintains, “They really do! All the girls at my kindy have them.”
“They’re probably boys dressed as girls,” Mr 5 surmises. “Because there are boys at school who really do look like girls.”
I look at them in the rear-view mirror, wondering how I missed this community of baby drag queens. “But anyway, girls DON’T have penises,” he continues, they have a hole to wee out of instead. Isn’t that right, Mum?”
“It’s called a vagina.” I reply. I know the awkwardness is mine alone, that I am simply giving them the information they seek, but this conversation is making me more uncomfortable than my bladder. I silently will them to let it go. No such luck.
“Yes, a fa-joiner. Girls have fa-joiners.” Mr 5 is satisfied with the reply.
The light finally changes to green and I drive home, to a chorus of boys trying out this new word. “Fa-joiner. Fa-joiner. Fa-joiner.” I turn the radio up to drown out my own discomfort.
Later, at home:
“Mum? Can you take you pants off please and lie on the couch.” (What the hell?)
Thing 1 moves closer. “Poor you, Mummy, you don’t have a penis. I’m going to grab your wee-hole and stretch it out into a penis for you.”
“NO!!!!” I screech, (not really) panicking.
I shrink to the corner of the couch, looking for a cross to ward off this frightful little guy, then leap to my feet. “Listen,” I say calmly, slowing my breathing, “You need to understand that you must NEVER say that to a girl ever again, ok?”
“Ok,” he concedes, turning his attention to his Star Wars characters.
The next day:
“Mum? I really need you to show me that you don’t have a penis.”
I can’t take any more of this. I pull out The Bare Naked Book, and open it to the appropriate page. He studies it for a minute, maybe two. He nods his head in acceptance and I take a breath, not realising I had been holding it. He looks resigned to the fact, and I am relieved. “Ok?” I ask.
“Yes,” he says, smiling, “because I know that you are TRICKING me and YOU REALLY DO HAVE A PENIS!”
I really cannot do another minute of this conversation.