It’s Not All Mary Poppins

It’s not just the “why’s”

I love three-year-olds. They’re relatively independent, they’re generally toilet trained, they’re verbal, they’re no longer testing the boundaries all the time. Tantrums are out; conversation is in.

They’re fun, and funny.

Everyone knows that three is the stage of “why, why, why”. Phew. Dozens of ‘why’s’ a day. Dozens. It can be exhausting, but mostly I love getting those glimpses into how their little minds work.

But three is the time for another fascination, and even though Malli doesn’t turn three until June, she’s there. She’s so advanced!

I am changing Timmy’s diaper on the living room floor.

Malli squats beside me, chattering away.

“I have a vagina.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Anna has a vagina?”
“Yes, she does. Anna is a girl, just like you.”
“Timmy has a penis.”
“Yes, he does, because Timmy is a boy.”

All this is pretty standard. This is what three-year-olds do. The “she’s-a-girl-so-she-has-a-vagina” (boy/penis) theme is considered great small talk amongst this set. They’ll try it on anyone: mom, dad, gramma, grampa, the teller at the bank, the bus driver, the minister of your church. It’s a good conversational tactic, really: find a point of common interest. And hey! If this isn’t ‘common interest’, what is? Everyone has one or the other, right?

While Malli can identify the bits, it soon becomes apparent she has a few gaps in her understanding…

“Timmy is a boy. He have a penis.”
“That’s right. He has a penis and testicles.”
“Uh-huh. Those little round things behind his penis.”
(Yes, Mary gets into it with the tots. Just like I do with any topic they’re interested in. Education is education.)
“He has a penis and tessacles because he a boy.”
“That’s right.”
“I has a vagina.”
“Yes. The vagina is the bit on the inside of you.” (Which, I happen to know, she has discovered. ‘Nuff said.) “The part on the outside is your labia.”
“I’m soon gonna be a boy.” Well. That was unexpected.
“You are?”
“Yes. When I get big, I will have a penis like my Max and Errol.” (Her older brothers.)
“You will?”
“Yes. When you grow big, you get a penis.” She considers Timmy, as he scrabbles onto the couch. “And maybe Timmy has a vagina when he grow big.”
“No, I’m pretty sure Timmy will keep his penis.” (The laughter is not far beneath the surface, but there’s NO WAY I want to disrupt this conversation.)
“He not keep his penis if he soon gonna be a girl.”
“Well, no, but he’s not. You generally stay a boy if you start as a boy.”
“Well, I soon gonna be a boy.”
I decide to try another tack: “Does your mommy have a penis?”
“No, she have a vagina.” A sudden thought occurs. “YOU has a vagina?” Ha! Progress!
“Yes, I do. Because I was a girl when I was little, and I’m a woman now.” Consolidate the notion…
“I a girl now.” Oooo. She’s getting it now!
“Indeed you are. And when you grow up, you will be a woman like mummy and me.” Confirming… and…
“No, I has a penis when I gets big.” Well. THAT didn’t work.
“Why will you get a penis? Maybe you will keep your vagina and be like mummy.”
“No. I’m soon gonna be a boy.” The girl is unshakeable.

I can hardly wait to tell her mother the Big News.

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Developmental stuff, sex, the things they say! | 13 Comments