On a freezing Friday evening in January 2020, yours truly sat at the workstation writing a speech for a client.
I was so engrossed in churning out the punchlines that I did not notice my son had walked to my desk. At some point my gut feeling told me I had company up close, so I put a full stop to the sentence I was busy on and offered attention.
"Ehee," I started, lifting my head to focus on him. His eyes were gazing right into mine, one of his fingers pointed towards his crotch.
"Daddy, what is the name given to this thing boys use to susu?"
First of all, nothing had prepared me for such a question, secondly, it had come too fast and furious for my liking. The silver lining was learning that the young man trusted me enough to ask such, as innocently as he had done it.
My mind did a quick calculation of the most acceptable term I could offer, given the number of controversial names that appendage has been afforded over the years, some being people's names like Willy, Dick, even Abdalla. The truth is, I had almost ten names running through my mind, most so vulgar I got embarrassed saying them in my mind.
I even wondered why mankind has invested so much time and energy generating names upon names for private parts, but that is hardly replicated for other body parts.
Knowing how outspoken and porous he is, the headache lay in bequeathing on him a name that will not be used somewhere and put my whole generation to shame.
I told myself to just say it straight; penis, but then I was not sure he was old enough to handle such a considerably heavy word. For a moment I became tongue tied.
"It’s time for bed now, Doodoo. Let’s go sleep, otherwise you'll be late for school tomorrow." I quipped.
"I sleep then you will tell me tomorrow?" he he pressed on.
I agreed, hoping for a bit of time to compose myself and prepare for the lesson because it had found me off-guard. I dashed to my people on Facebook and asked how other parents dealt with such questions, and all advice leaned towards me being open and truthful with him because he was bound to go soliciting for the same information elsewhere and risked being misled. In other words, any loss of trust at this point would have by extension meant losing the child to the world on matters sex and gender.
Thankfully, it was a Friday so the following day was a weekend. I planned an impromptu boys' day out and while there took him through the name and functions.
I also informed him that the part was private therefore no one but him, myself included, was allowed to touch it . . . And of course, it was immoral for him to hold it in public.
NOT AN EASY TASK
It was not an easy task, given that I had at no point shared such a moment with my own father, and the sex education I received from our 8-4-4 system was basic.
As a matter of fact, that lesson came at a time in high school when I was a teenager with raging hormones, so countless time my mind kept wandering off into the realities of sex organs away from the drawings on the blackboard.
Again, we Africans do not discuss private parts openly like football fans talking about player transfers over a beer, so the Biology teacher ended up sounding vulgar. It was a tad bit too embarrassing for us to keep repeating the names, functions and traits of every tube and tip and egg after Mr Masiolo.
The rest of what I now know about private parts was picked from sex discussions with the boys, dating and its experiences, not forgetting Google University.
I came back home feeling accomplished, but as it turned out I had overlooked quite a lot of information, which offered a loophole for the questions to get more complicated.
That night he came back in similar fashion and this time wanted to know why I had not told him what men do with "these little round things on the chest," read man boobs.
In all honestly, with all my years of being on this planet I have never known what that pair is used for, apart from looking like little nails on a wall.
What I am sure of is that they failed me terribly when I was left with a breastfeeding baby to take care of, so I wouldn't lie to him that they can come in handy for nourishment.
We are yet to move the discussion and hinge it on the opposite gender, but we’ll soon do so. Meanwhile, I’m still looking for answers to what man boobs are used for, so please share your views through[email protected].