Circumcision is a hotly debated issue among parents, and lots of people like to weigh in on the medical, religious, and cultural issues surrounding it. I read about 20 different websites, including the CDC, which report that overall, circumcision rates are dropping. There is a ton of information about the pros and cons of circumcision, but I think our recent experience regarding this sensitive topic should help both sides come together.
Because circumcisions are becoming less commonplace, it follows that our boys will have kids in their classes whose parents have not chosen circumcision. Mothers of little boys know that boys are pretty excited to be able to pee standing up. Girls do not have nearly the fascination with urination because—let’s face it—it isn’t as fun. Recently, my son’s teacher brought him out to our car and said that he might need to have a conversation at home about kids who looked “different.” Apparently my son and his male friends were pretty excited about the new urinals in their school building, and because modesty is illusive at this age, a group of boys saw that another one of their friends looked different. The boys pointed it out, asked their friend about it, and pretty much moved on. My son’s teacher might’ve been a little embarrassed to tell me, but she wanted to make sure that we addressed any questions he had at home.
As a mom, my first reaction was to bury my head in the sand and declare, “This is a daddy topic!” I called my husband and told him that he needed to talk to our son about it, and he said he would when he got home from work. I kept thinking about how to explain why my son’s friend looked different and the medical and religious reasons we had chosen circumcision, etc. They felt like really big topics to discuss with an almost four-year-old.
My husband came home, and once our other kids were down, we started the discussion with our son. What my husband did was amazing: he didn’t talk about circumcision during our conversation. Instead, he talked to my son about being different. He told my son that at some point, our bodies will all look different from other people’s. He talked about how boys and girls are different anatomically, and how when our son gets bigger he may have more or less of a beard or be shorter or taller than his friends. He talked about the importance of accepting others as they are, regardless of their physical appearance. Finally, he told my son that if has a question, he should wait and address it privately with a trusted adult like us or his teacher, to refrain from hurting someone else’s feelings or make them feel as though they are being singled out.
Basically, my husband turned the conversation about circumcision into a conversation about acceptance. Isn’t that what we all want and need? As we wrapped things up, my son looked at me. I was expecting some deep, heartfelt thought, but instead he blurted out, “All this talking makes me need to pee.” Mission accomplished!