Joe Boughner: The Naked Dad


"Penis," He Said, Somewhat Awkwardly

Man, voices really carry in these change rooms, don't they?

"Daddy, that's your penis!" she exclaimed with that mix of subtlety and discretion that only a toddler can muster. In a public, co-ed change room.

Hrm, I think a couple of points of clarification are in order here.

As parents of a daughter who is genetically-bound to grow up with something larger than a supermodel frame, my wife and I are very cognizant of the societal predisposition to body shame that she is likely to grow up surrounded by. As a result, we've made two decisions that ultimately led to the somewhat-awkward scene of the two of us standing in the swimming pool's family change room stall with my reproductive organ as the topic du jour.

Firstly, we've tried to be chill about the whole nudity thing. This isn't to say we wander around with our bits out as a matter of course, just that on the not-as-rare-as-you-might-expect occasions that our daughter has opportunity to see us naked (and my fellow toddler parents totally know what I'm talking about here), we don't run screaming to cover ourselves up. If I left her in the locker portion of the room she might've bolted for the pool, right? So I brought her into the stall while I changed. No biggie.

Secondly, we're sticklers for terminology. Again, we don't seek out every opportunity to show her penises (penii?) and labia, just that we don't talk around the issue when she does encounter them. No weewees or front bums for our family. Parts have names and words have power. If we aren't willing to call a spade a spade, what message does that send?

So yea. Doesn't that all sound good in theory?

"Yes love, that's Daddy's penis."

"I don't have one of those. I have a 'gina."

"That's right love."

See? It's a teaching moment. It's all good. She's learned a fundamental lesson about human biology. Score one for progressive parenting. Unfortunately, I don't carry ditto sheets of our little theory around in my back pocket.

So when we swung the door of the stall open and headed back to the central locker area, the look on the woman at the next locker over's face suggested she was perhaps not as on board with our parenting style.

Which made the next exchange all the more...interesting.

"Will I have a penis when I am a boy, Daddy?'"

Who knows what the future will hold for my daughter, right? So I handled it the only way I could.

"I suppose so, kiddo."

And with that, the other parent hurried out of the room, her kid in tow.