The following events took place during the summer months of 2008. The specific dates have either been forgotten or conveniently erased from my data bank. For better or worse, some of these images have been fried into my head. The story you are about to hear is factual and completely changed the way I parented. I will only start by saying that you never know when the things you tell a child, may come back to haunt you.
“Its gonna be a hot one today!” I couldn’t tell if Cathy was giving me a weather report, or in a simple roundabout way trying to make me jealous. I absolutely hate the heat! 82 degrees tops, with a breeze and no humidity, that’s my limit. Cathy was about to leave the house and walk into a wonderfully air-conditioned and temperature controlled work place. Ohhhh man, I bet it was like…. 68 degrees in there.
“Umph,” was my reply. It only was 7am and the action of this simple response caused me to sweat, I think I’ll try just sitting in the bath tub today.
“Maybe you could go to the pool park today?” Cathy’s suggestion wasn’t all that bad. We have this nice little park a couple of blocks away. They have an Olympic sized pool and a little sprinkler park. Lucy loves the sprinkler park, and it’s usually not a big hassle.
About 2 weeks prior….
Recently Lucy started to “discover” certain new things about herself. Although, this is something that I’ve been told was completely normal, it is still a bit startling when your 2 year old stands up in the bath tub and says “Daddy, I have a Jay-Jay!” Apparently, Lucy and Cathy had this little conversation about her and her “Jay-Jay” the night before and then forgot to inform me. I however was always told that when you discuss the so called “private parts” of their body you are always supposed to use the correct anatomical term. I thought that at this point I should reverse this trend of funny names for serious parts immediately.
“Lucy. The correct term for your ‘Jay-Jay’ is a Vagina.” That was all I said, and quite frankly all too much for me to handle. I thought, I honestly thought we’d be done with this topic for a very long time….
Back to late June….
Jesus, it was hot. I mean really hot. Hot like, is the sun actually gonna fall on top of us hot. Lucy was slathered in SPF 80 and if it were even the least bit aesthetically pleasing I would have gladly adorned a Speedo to the sprinkler park. I bet Cathy was sitting in her office wearing a sweater, drinking tea and listening to A Very Special Christmas, oh the envy.
The one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve become a stay at home dad, is that there are not a lot of stay at home dads in the neighborhood and by not a lot, I mean none. This doesn’t make me feel weird; it just makes me obvious. I’m almost always completely surrounded by gaggle of mothers and nannies. This means my social conversation which is usually consists of sports, beer and farts had to be altered slightly. Now it’s all about diet, reality television and napping habits. That’s not to say you can’t slip a fart story in there, some mommies are crazy! Anyway my point is, we get to the sprinkler park and it’s packed with mommies and nannies.
I let Lucy go, then give a couple of nods and smiles to a few of the faces I recognize. For the most part, I just stay back and smote the sun. It had been about 15 minutes and the heat was just relentless. There is absolutely no shade on the park and I started to smell rotisserie chicken. Since there wasn’t a restaurant or picnic within eye sight I assumed that the “chicken” smell was my soul cooking from the inside. This is all the excuse I needed.
“Lu, let’s go, it’s too hot.” Now what I should have done next was scooped up her greasy little heat soaked body and plunked her into the stroller, but I didn’t. She asked for a few more minutes, and I gave in. Then without warning Lucy yells…“Daddy look at that lady’s vagina!” I took me a second to actually process what she had just said. After all there were a lot of screaming children around, and it was entirely possible some lady just walked into the park with an Iguana. Then she yelled it again, this time she definitely said the word “vagina.” I’m shocked, scared, confused and now my sweat has begun to scream as it runs down my face. The delicious chicken smell that was my soul is now making me hungry and my daughter is fixated on some stranger’s vagina. This has to be a misunderstanding, a simple case of mistaken identity, I’m 98% sure that she is using this word out of context, she has to be. I mean this is gonna turn out to be a really funny story about the time Lucy got confused and said the word vagina really loud at the sprinkler park, right? Then she points at a lady who is bent over playing with a child. Crap it’s official, this story is now about the 2% I wasn’t sure about.
The vagina in question belonged to one of the Eastern Bloc nannies that troll the neighborhood parks. If I had to guess she was either a former gymnast or a professional shoe tier, ‘cause she was bent over in such a way, that I wasn’t sure if she knew how to use her knees. She appeared to be snapped in half at the waist, she looked like a folding chair! Now the vagina itself was not blatant, I mean it wasn’t as though she was naked. She was wearing very “short” shorts, but they were also either too big or very loose, and what I can only say as a confirmation of the heat, she wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Regardless, there it was right at the end of Lucy’s finger, less than 8ft away. We were in a staring competition of the most uncomfortable variety.
“Doesn’t she have a big vagina Daddy?” You know, there are at least 25 other adults in the park, 24 of which are female, how is it possible that this problem, this view has found me! Surely somebody else has seen this and will politely walk over and tell her that her vagina is hanging out of her shorts. This lady is completely oblivious to the situation. She just keeps going about her business. I mean I can’t say anything right? I’m the last person who should confront her about her omission of underwear. The next few seconds seem like a lifetime as Lucy continues to yell the word vagina every 0.005 seconds. It’s almost as thought she knows this is making me uncomfortable. “Daddy, she’s got a big girl vagina. Remember daddy, I have a vagina? Girls have vagina’s and boys have a wee-wee, right?”
“Right, wee-wees. Whatever let’s go!” Now she’s just mocking me! She’s smirking; she knows what she’s doing. She’s saying this whole problem would be much eaiser to handle if I were screaming the word “Jay-Jay” instead?
I try to grab her, but it’s a lot like trying to pick up a 30lb grease covered water balloon. Instead I slide her along the rubber playground surface and ploop her into her scalding hot stroller, she begins to sizzle. I walk at break-neck speed in order to get home. I explain that we should never use that word at the park. I tell her it’s not nice to point at someone’s vagina. I had no idea what I was talking about; I was trying to defuse the whole situation by teaching a 2 year old how to appropriately use the word vagina in public. This is not a talk a daddy is supposed to be having. I was completely mortified.
Later that night….
Cathy walks through the door and Lucy quickly runs into her arms. She is dry and clean which makes it easy for her mommy to swoop her up. Cathy gives her big squeezes then begins her questioning, “So how was your day today? Did you go to the Pool park? Did you have fun?”
“Yeah! We had fun. We got wet in the water at the pool park. We played and played…. It was so much fun, AND we saw a big girl’s Jay-Jay, right daddy? Not a vagina, a Jay-Jay, right?”
Cathy looks at me, she seems visibly concearned,“What in the world is she talking about?”
I knew she would ask me this, and I knew no matter how hard I tried to explain it, it was gonna sound weird. So I took a great big breath and a giant swig of beer. I shrugged my shoulders and the best I could come up with was, “Yeah-yeah, we went to the park, played in the sprinklers and we saw a Nanny with no panties.”
“A Nanny with no panties?” Cathy repeated.
“Yup. A Nanny with NO panties.”