1. “Gay Marriage” ~ 5 years old
Simone: Hey, Alexey…something really important happened when you were away Upstate over the weekend? You know how usually a man and a woman get married? Well, it was decided that it is now legal for two men to get married or two women…it wasn’t like that before.
Alexey: Why not?
Simone: Because some people believe that it’s not right.
Alexey: Oh oh! Because it should just be a boy and a girl.
Simone: That’s not how it should be. It could be a boy and a boy or a girl and a girl or a boy and a girl and many other combinations.
Alexey (and this is why I love kids): What about three people? Why can’t three people get married?
Simone (chuckling): Well, that’s for your generation to work out. But they should be able to, if they love each other.
Alexey: At pre-school, we get paired together in threes sometimes.
Simone: This stuff is a bit different from pre-school groups. But not much. Anyway, gay marriage being legal in NY is really great.
Alexey: When I was upstate, we saw another country. Canada. It had trains that looked like our trains.
2. “Hair, Again” ~ 5 years old
As I was putting his wet hair into a ponytail after swimming, Alexey squirmed and said: your aunt doesn’t let me wear braids around her, she says it’s not for boys and that’s it and tells me it’s ridiculous.
Simone: It’s not ridiculous, it’s perfectly fine – I know she doesn’t get it but that’s how some people are. The only thing that matters is that you are happy wearing your braids.
Alexey: I tried not to listen to her
Simone: You know what? Next time she tells you boys don’t wear braids, ask her ‘why?’
Simone: Because when people tell you something, you should always question why and if they don’t have a good reason to support their beliefs, you can ignore what they say and do what you feel is right. Because I know she doesn’t have a good reason for not liking braids on you other than that’s how she was raised and how many people are raised.
Alexey: Okay, and if you get me Oreo cookies, I will cover my ears and tell her I can’t hear her, just get me Oreos.
3. On Diva Cups and Periods ~5 ½ years old
Alexey (on seeing my Diva Cup): I want this..
Simone: No, that’s Mommie’s.
Alexey: Why do you have it?
Simone: It’s for my period.
Alexey: Because you have blood coming out?
Simone: Yes, every month.
Alexey: Why do you have blood coming out?
Simone: Because some people have blood coming out every month. It means I’m not pregnant. If I didn’t have blood coming out, it would mean it was contributing to a new baby inside me, a new person would be growing inside mommy.
Alexey: Let’s brush teeth together!
4. On ‘peeing parts’ ~ 5 ½ years old
Alexey (peeing): Why don’t you have this (as he looks at my crotch)
Simone: Have what? A peeing part?
Simone: I do, it just doesn’t look like yours. I mean it is shaped differently. Yours looks like a tube, mine is more flat, it’s a hole. Some people have tubes, some people have holes. Other people call these people women if you want to categorize things. Do you want to see what mine looks like?
Simone: Well, brush your teeth first (Lessons happen when life doesn’t stop)
Simone (once he was done): Do you still want to see it?
(We went to the living room, I took off my underwear and showed him my urethra)
Simone (pointing): This right here is where I pee from and this hole is where you came out of, okay?
Simone (after putting underwear back on): …So some people have tubes
Alexey: It’s not a tube, it’s a peeing place.
Simone: Yes, but it’s shaped like a tube.
Alexey: And men have it, not boys
Simone: No, you always had it. You have one now. Just when you’re older, it will grow with the rest of your body.
Reflection: I find it important to show kids exactly what bodies look like, not just in pictures but in real life. That is why I choose to show my children what my genitals and that of their father look like so that they may understand what our sexual organs are like, as well as any other organs. It is imperative that we, as parents, drop the discomfort around this topic and treat facts like facts. I believe that at 5 years old, Alexey understands more about female anatomy and its functions (like menstruation) than some men 6x his age. This knowledge will be invaluable for him regardless of his choice of partner in the future - not the least because he might some day father daughters.