Friday, October 21, 2011

we'll save the yeti for monday and discuss circumsicion today

Disclaimer: I was ambivalent on the decision to circumcise our sons, but Mr. D had strong feelings on the topic. Evidently boys' locker rooms are hostile places and a little nip/roll goes a long way in protecting male self-esteem in American culture. Because I wasn't born with a foreskin, I deferred to my male compatriot in this matter.

About a week ago Mr. O showed us this huge, sharp, metal-bladed sword. His brother had bought it. For his sister's new baby. A little baby and Mr. O's brother's idea of a great gift is this swashbuckling weapon. Mr. O thought it was funny and showed the sword to the class (sister had given it to him, wisely believing a baby had no business with a sword, but a 3rd degree black belt might know how to handle it appropriately). I cracked, "Did it arrive in time for the bris?

Cue the laughter and a lot of confused looks from the rest of the room. What's a bris? one kid asks.

It's a name for the Jewish circumcision ritual,
I explained.

Did I have one? Mr. B asked.

Yep, you did. In fact, most of this room had one I bet.

More laughter and then we moved on to practice our sword form.

A week later...

Mr. B and I are at karate where we worked on our sword form during class. After class ends, Mr. B asks me where his sword is. What sword? You have it in your hand.

No, that other sword you got me

What other sword?

The one you said you got me last week.

Buddy, I have no idea what you're talking about. You have a sword. It's in terrible shape because you don't take care of it and leave it outside. I'm not buying you another one until you're older and show more responsibility.

No, Mom! You said in class last week that I had another sword. Just like the one Mr. O's brother bought for the new baby.

OH! No, sweetie. I was referring to your circumcision. You had a circumcision, not a new sword.

What's a circumcision?

You know how you plan those "talks" with your children? I always felt I'd gotten off the hook having boys instead of girls--no menstruation conversation, no breast buds, instructions on inserting tampons, etc. I sort of figured that little cut when they were a day old would never come up because all the other boys had it done and they'd assume that was the norm and never question it.

Well, it's a thing most people in Western cultures do to their baby boys. You know how your penis looks kind of like a mushroom at the end? Well, there's this bit of skin--it's called a foreskin--and the doctor snips it and pushes it back and that's what a circumcision is. Just cutting and rolling back that foreskin.

Reader, if I could describe the look of horrified betrayal that kid gave me.

You did WHAT?

Yeah, it sounds bad when you say it out loud like that.

Did it hurt?
Mr. B's brow is furrowed with concern.

I imagine it did. I wasn't there. They took you to another room and Dr. K did it. When they brought you back in, there was a little blood.

I remember Mr. T's indignation when we changed Mr. B's diaper the next day and he saw the blood. He was furious that we'd cut a baby. And concerned about how it felt. And mad that we did it to him without his permission.

Why? Why did you do that to me? I was a baby!

This is the point of the conversation where I totally threw Mr. D under the bus. Guy stuff, not my turf.

I can't believe you guys did that to me.

Honey, everyone does it. It's just something parents do to boys.

Well, I'm sure glad I had it done when I was a baby instead of as an adult. If you were an adult it would really hurt.

That happened a week ago. Last night we discussed apocalyptic events on the ride home, like zombies taking over, or apes taking over, or the world turning into a giant fireball that no water could extinguish, but then we'll all be with Jesus. And how do zombies become zombies, how could apes take over humans, did I ever see a movie about haunted houses, how many haunted house movies have ever been made and what's the scariest. Important stuff that weighs on the mind of a nine-year-old boy clearly not traumatized in any way by last week's conversation.


  1. Hahaha!!! It is a super strange thing to do to a baby, isn't it? My husband had the same reasons and your hubby to circumsize our boys. Seems like a silly reason to me, but then again I'm not in the boys' locker room, I guess.

    We (and when I say we I mean I) had the circumsicion conversation with my boys too. They thought it was super weird too, but they weren't freaked out at all. I thought it was weird they didn't seem freaked.

  2. It sounds like you handled it well...sensitive subject (pun intended). My son didn't even wake up during his, didn't blink an eye.

  3. It's so common and accepted that I didn't even question it. Now I do. But I can't regret it because my son had actual medical reasons to get the procedure. But I still wish I had questioned it and maybe looked for an alternative. Now, most people around here don't get it done, and I feel like a cruel narrow-minded traditionalist (not usually who I am).

  4. I was roaring through this whole ordeal! I'll never forget when we watched Men in Tights...nip the tip came up and my little 6th grade sister asked what it was. My dad turned about 5 shades of red and almost had a heart attck on the spot! He was laughing so hard he barely made it up the stairs...and my mom got stuck explaining it to us (a conversation I bet She never thought that she'd be having with Her Girls!)

  5. I don't buy that locker room reasoning. My sons are not snipped and they've never ever had an issue with it, in the locker room, or otherwise. (I'm not just assuming this, I asked them.)

  6. Like many young ladies, I hadn't thought about it at all until my first OB, a European, explained everything. My husband WAS, but his dad WASN'T, and we both agreed it was an unnecessary thing to do to a perfect little baby. I think the locker room rationale is pretty weak: people all look different, and surely teaching our kids to love themselves and accept others is a worthwhile goal. I suppose that both teams probably end up feeling like their own "parts" are superior, either way. Thanks for a great post!

  7. our son had it, back in the mid 80's everyone did. I questioned it, but the doc said it was good for medical reasons. when my 1st grandson had it done, it didn't heal correctly and he needed 2 surgeries to get it corrected, he peed sideways for awhile.

  8. Oh dear. I'm not looking forward to this conversation. x3.

  9. It never came up in our house with the boys--I did't really have a strong opinion about it one way or the other, but sort of assumed you go with the Dad's style.

  10. I'm glad Mr. B isn't traumatized :-)

    I remember talking about this with my husband before we knew we were having a daughter. We weren't sure which way we were going to go, and we were relieved when we didn't have to make a decision!

  11. I think its so common to circumsice I've never seen someone uncircumsiced until my boys were born.

  12. LOL - i nearly wet myself. (probably would have, too if i hadn't just made a mad dash to the ladies room!)

    when my boys were born, it was not the norm to discuss it. it was just done. now... well, i still think it's best especially for cleanliness.

  13. I'm feeling really comfortable chatting about tampons and menstruation. Thankfully, the Boy never asked about circumcision. I didn't even know it WAS optional at the time he had his done. (That last statement alone should have disqualified me from taking a baby home from the hospital. Sheesh.)

  14. LOL @ him thinking he had a sword, but you handled this very well.

  15. Don't you love how these conversations come out of the blue when you are not "ready?" But I like how you answered him. Especially the throwing under the bus part ;)

    I deferred to my husband, too. I was on a fence about it, I looked for research proving that a circumcision caused trauma (there as nothing credible) so when husband insisted I deferred. My son, now a teen, says he is very glad we had it done.

    Also, there is a smattering of research indicating that circumcision provides a protective function with some STD's and urinary infections. So I feel better on that count, too.

  16. One of my sons is circumcised, the other isn't. When I did a nursing rotation in the newborn nursery, I was very anxious about circumcision because I didn't want to watch one, but I felt my professor would not accept any excuse to get out of it. Luckily, it just worked out that none were done when I was there.

  17. Pete and I are over here laughing over this and SO HAPPY we don't have to have this particular conversation.

    Of course, we have girls, that's a whole different set of conversations...

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  19. whoa. glad i have no sons. that would be a very tough decision, i think.


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