Posted by: laughs4dads | March 10, 2010

One of Those Questions, Part I

Well, I’m a little ashamed to say this, but when Casey was a toddler, she had an anatomically-correct goat.

It was a toy goat, about two inches high, and made of plastic.  It entered our house covertly, as part of a 28-piece set of farm animals, when Casey was around three years old.  I suppose we should have been suspicious when, one by one, the pieces of our agricultural empire began to disappear (starting with the cow, I believe, or maybe the sheep), but we did not deem this unusual, as evidenced by the 101-piece tea serving set which had been whittled down to a single saucer.  We never did discover where all these toys went, but I always assumed that they still exist in some sort of parallel universe, along with 1,276 of my socks.

But let’s get back to the goat.  It was a survivor, this goat.  Or perhaps, it secretly disposed of the other farm animals.  How it happened is not important.  What’s important is that the goat not only endured, it managed to wheedle its way into Casey’s extensive bathtub toy collection.

Now, I can’t tell you in which country this goat was manufactured, but I can tell you this: It is a country of demented people.  Who would, after all, go through the trouble of building into a toy goat mold little toy goat, um, apparatus?  I mean, it was barely visible!  I certainly never noticed it.  Neither had Barbara.  You virtually needed a magnifying glass to see the thing!

Of course, our daughter gravitated to it as if it were a 30-foot high billboard.  “Mommy,” she said, looking up from her bath in which floated approximately 324 non-anatomically-correct creatures, “what’s this?”

“What’s what?” Barb asked, unaware that she was about to be drawn into one of the Twilight Zones of parenthood.

“On the goat,” Casey said, handing the demonic animal to my wife.

Barbara turned the goat around in her hand.  “What’s on the goat, honey?” she asked innocently.

“On its belly.”

Barbara took a closer look.  “I don’t see anything on its belly.”

“The bump, mommy.  The bump on its tummy.”

Barbara raised the goat until it was a half inch from her eye.  Then she saw it.  “Ohhhhhhhhhhh,” she said.  “That bump.”

“What is it, mommy?”

I’m sure many possible answers raced through Barb’s head at that moment, but she couldn’t seem to grab onto anything but the truth.  If there are any child psychologists reading this, you may want to pay close attention to the following exchange,  because I’m sure you’ll want to write it up in a textbook.  “It’s the goat’s penis, dear,”  Barbara said tentatively.

“Penis?”

“Yes.”

“What’s a penis?”

Barbara considered her answer very carefully, and spoke very slowly, as if she was afraid that if she said the wrong word, Casey might end up being a disgruntled postal worker.  “Well, sweetheart, you know how you have a vagina?”

Casey nodded.  She was pretty familiar with female body parts, thanks to, among other things, potty training.  Also, she appeared to be very envious of Barbara’s bosom, and was fond of telling people, and in particular, complete strangers, that “When I get big and big, I’m going to have ‘breastses’ like my mommy.”  Barbara continued the bath tub lesson.  “Well,” she said, “girls have vaginas, but boys have penises.”

This explanation did not sit well with my daughter, primarily because she had previously decided, through some process known only to herself, that the goat was a girl goat.  “But this is a girl goat, mommy,” she announced.

“I don’t think it is, honey.  He’s a boy goat.”  That’s what Barbara said.  What she was thinking was, “It’s a darned toy goat that was made by some truly sick individual.”

“She,” Casey insisted.  And then, for emphasis, “Her name is Megan.”

Of course, Barbara could have chosen to ignore the fact that Casey had named this anatomically-correct goat after a perfectly nice little girl from her pre-school class.  She could have, but she didn’t.  “I think you’ll have to change his name,” she said.  “Maybe Matthew.”

“Her name,” said Casey.

It was time for Barbara to be firm.  “Honey, it’s a boy goat, because it has a penis.  If it was a girl, it would have a vagina.”

This sent Casey off on a search of her other bath tub animals, all of which were, naturally, as neutral as Switzerland.

Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t take a role in this conversation.  Well, the answer is simple.  I wasn’t in the room.  The truth is, I was lurking just outside, giggling.  I wasn’t about to enter the room during this conversation, because my presence could only lead to one possible conclusion, and I wasn’t mentally prepared for it.

I was only slightly better prepared for my task of the following day, which was to locate an anatomy book written for three year olds.

to be continued…

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