The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin, 1852. (Wikipedia)
It’s always interesting to be reminded that society was pretty much always going to hell in a handbasket. It’s nothing new. People have been stupid, petty, immoral and misbehaving since the beginning of time.
The boys received The Children’s Illustrated Bible for Christmas, and most nights I read a chapter or two before bedtime. Bible stories, especially in the Old Testament, have it all: sex, incest, murder, infanticide, adultery, floods, cities getting blown up, people getting eaten by lions, etc. Of course in the children’s version, all the sex and gore is toned down a bit, but it’s still intense enough to be thoroughly interesting to a four-year-old and six-year-old.
Last night’s story was the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. You’ll recall that God was pretty ticked off at the folks in Sodom and Gomorrah, so he decided to wipe them off the face of the earth. He was not screwing around.
My aim in all this was to illustrate what can happen when one behaves badly and purposely disobeys directions. :-)
Anyway, in the very beginning of the story, there was a reference to boy children being circumcised. (Didn’t see that one coming.) Immediately, Ruairi (6) asked me to explain circumcision. Sigh.
Let’s see. I think I said something like: “It is something that Jewish people did to show God that they loved him. Some people still do it.”
Ruairi: But what is it?
Then, things got OUT OF CONTROL. Fast.
Me: Well, sometimes, when a boy baby is a few days old, a doctor cuts off a small part of his penis. But don’t worry, that didn’t happen to you or your brother.
Liam: Why don’t they do it to girls?
Me: Because girls don’t have penises.
I cannot accurately describe the look on Liam’s face, but let’s just say he was incredulous. He could not believe it.
Liam: What?! How do they pee?
Me: Well, girls have something different, called a vagina.
Liam: And when does the vagina turn into a penis?
I burst into laughter.
First, I was SO unprepared for this conversation. Second, Liam totally hijacked the conversation from his brother. Third, I realized that it was inconceivable to him (Liam) that there was anyone who didn’t have a penis and never would have one. But it got even better:
Me: Son, vaginas don’t turn into penises. Girls and boys are different in a lot of ways, and this is just one of the things that makes girls and boys different.
Liam: Do you have one?
Liam: Can I see it?
Me: Uh, no. But we can find a picture of one in a book or maybe on Wikipedia and you can look at it there.
I went on with the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. They perked up a bit when Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. But nothing matched the enthusiasm of the circumcision / penis / vagina convo. I kissed them goodnight and that was the end of it.
Until this morning when Liam asked me: “Mom, what is the name of that thing that girls pee out of?”
I’m pretty sure I’ll receive a note from Liam’s teacher sometime soon …