It's probably a good thing nobody warned me about how many awkward situations come with having kids. Because if they had, I'm pretty sure my sons wouldn't exist. Yeah, it's worth it and all that, but there are just some times when your kid says or does something so mortifying that you wish you could just disappear.

My five year old, Colin, has been the perpetrator of all the uncomfortable scenarios so far. I don't know if it's because he's just got a knack for doing embarrassing things, or if Cameron and Coby just aren't old enough yet. But for whatever reason, Colin's always been the one behind those curl-up-and-die moments. Like the time he was confused about our waitress's gender. Or the time he asked me to define "whore." Or when he very vocally called us out on a little white lie (I guess that was technically our fault, but still).

So when the phone rang the other day, and the caller ID said "School," I started to get a little nervous. Because we all know that a call from the school in the middle of the day doesn't indicate anything good. Whether it's a sick kid or a heinous misbehavior, it's gonna be something you didn't want to deal with. So I'm sure there was more than a bit of trepidation in my voice when I answered. "Hello?"

It was Colin's teacher, Mrs. L. "Colin had a good morning," she said. "He listened attentively, followed procedures, lined up when he was supposed to ..."

I waited for the bomb to drop. Because y'all? Teachers don't call out of the blue, during school hours, to tell you how good your kid is doing.

"... but then we had a little problem with centers this afternoon," Mrs. L. went on. She explained that Colin had chosen the art center, and he and two fifth-grade helpers had been playing a spelling bee game: writing words on a chalkboard. "Everything was going well, until Colin asked Christina to spell ..." Mrs. L. paused briefly.

I squeezed my eyes shut. Please don't say penisPlease don't say penisPlease don't say penis.

"... Penis," she finished, a slight tinge of embarrassment in her voice.

Hmmph. How ever did I guess.

What are you supposed to say in a situation like that? I mean, really? "Wow, sorry my kid said penis. At least he didn't call it a d*ck, right? Har har har."

"I had a talk with him to let him know it was inappropriate," she said.

Um, thanks? Did she think I had neglected to tell him that little tidbit before? I've had the same conversation with him. It's not like I let my kids go out into the world without teaching them some sense of social propriety - it's just that some of the lessons don't actually stick until they're older. And unfortunately, this was one of those lessons.

I apologized about the incident, but let her know that I was sure there was nothing perverted or harrassing about it. It was innocent. I mean, Colin comes from a house full of boys. There's penis talk galore around this piece. Look to the left, you see a penis. Look to the right, you see a penis. I spend a substantial portion of my day fielding questions about them, troubleshooting issues with them, and/or providing gentle reminders not to play with them unless it's behind closed doors. It's just natural. Plus, Colin is an anatomy buff - and that includes reproductive anatomy (one of the videos on his YouTube favorites is this one, a medical animation of childbirth. And yes, I allow him to watch it. Why shouldn't I?).

But, since it was a call from his teacher, I felt obligated to assure her that my five year old isn't some perv in the making. Only instead of calmly and rationally explaining his probable reasons, I stammered through the whole thing. Because, hello, awk-ward. I'm sure she hung up thinking, "Man, it's no wonder the kid is messed up with a mother like that."

When he got home, I didn't even scold him. I knew he'd already gotten a talking-to at school, and that was enough for what I considered a very, very minor infraction. I casually mentioned that maybe next time he was playing the chalkboard game, he could think of a better word to spell.

... As long as it's not "vagina."   


  1. Honestly I can't even believe she called you about that. It is a relevant vocabulary word and he is advanced for having thought of it. Telling him it is inappropriate would have been sufficient I am sure. Sometimes I think some teachers just want to make us uncomfortable...... like it is part of their job description. "Lets make this parent feel inadequate.." LOL, I don't know but I am with you. MINOR INFRACTION

  2. I'm with Jessica. I can't believe she called you about that. He's 5, not 15!

  3. This is a little bit ridiculous, I think. Many times, adults have trouble separating their own adult sexuality from children's basic, (usually) innocent understanding about sexuality. I would guess that the teacher's reaction was more about her own discomfort and embarrassment than anything else. This seems like the kind of situation that is better addressed very subtly and discretely. But schools are kind of crazy these days; a second grader I worked with was cited for "sexual harassment" for writing love letters to a girl in his class. Please.

    Good for you for using the correct terminology for his genitals, and for not making a federal case out of the issue!

  4. Of all the possible words he could have least it was the proper name for anatomy. I got a call from The Wife a few months ago. The Girl had dropped a cup of apple juice and went "DAMMIT!" And then blamed me. Which, okay, she should.

  5. I'm thinking "penis" is pretty appropriate compared to all the slang words in existence for it. I'd give him a pat on the back for using the correct terminology and tell him his teacher is a prude.

  6. I'm sorry but I think your teacher needs to get a life and get in touch with age-appropriate behavior. He used correct terminology not slang or profanity. Seriously a phone call over this? Give me a freakin' break. I'd politely tell your teacher to get a life and stop wasting your time.

  7. I'd have been tempted to laugh if the teacher told me that.

    I'm surprised Tommy hasn't asked any embarrassing pregnancy questions in school since he's currently obsessed with it.

  8. She may have called to let you know, just in case he brought it up. I think it is silly to call it a problem, little or otherwise, though, because all she needed to do was explain that those are private body words and he needs to ask his parents about them,not other students. At least it wasn't like my son, who at 18 months pronounced his S words with a hard C and started screaming out *ock!! *ock!!! when we passed the sock aisle at Wal Mart and the more I tried to hush him the louder he got *blush*

  9. I'm SO glad you didn't make a big deal out of it! Anyone who knows Colin (hmmm......shouldn't that include his teacher?)understands that he thinks scienfitically and is quite literal in his descriptions. My guess is that the teacher just encountered something SHE was uncomfortable with, and didn't know how to deal with it. The less said, the better.

  10. Ha, ha, ha. I am surprised more kids don't ask to spell penis.


  11. Hmm..I don't see what the big deal is! Maybe because too many people are prudes and scared of sexuality, sex ed, etc. She wouldn't have freaked out if he spelled a non-"taboo" anatomical part.

  12. And people wonder why a) kids don't know the correct terminology for their own anatomy and b) why kids seem to be so vulgar at a much younger age. Drives me crazy when people make such a big deal out of the correct terminology, and *gasp* it's said in public.

    Good for you for teaching him the correct terminology, and not getting onto him. I would've done the same thing. However, I would've probably asked the teacher if she would've rather him asked how to spend "dick" or "schlong" or something along those lines.


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