Pour Water on My PenisJoel Stein
I’m pouring water from a cup onto the back of Laszlo’s head in the tub, the soap long washed out of his hair. It was one of those nice father-son moments, where half of you is enjoying it and half of you is sad about the fact that this stage will soon be over. He keeps saying, “Do it again,” his head tilted back, looking up at me. So I do.
Then he says this:
“Pour water on my penis.”
“Pour water on my penis.”
I know how to handle this. I’m not supposed to make a big deal out of it, but I’m not supposed to pour water on his penis either. I’m supposed to distract him with some other activity that is un-penis related.
I go with: “I can’t because you’re lying on your tummy.” Of all the things I could say, this is, I’m pretty sure, the creepiest.
I did not think this would happen so soon. Laszlo is two. He has shown very little interest in his penis, other than the fact that his mom told him that girls don’t have them, which he thinks is a little weird and a lot sad. He won’t even touch his penis when he’s standing up and peeing, insisting on keeping his hands by his side and thrusting his pelvis forward like a 60-year-old man at a urinal.
So I wasn’t prepared for the water-pouring request.
A part of me thinks: Would it really be so bad to pour water on the guy’s penis? It’s not sexual to him. It’s not sexual to me. It’s not any different than if he said, “Rub my back.” Besides, how long would someone want water poured on his penis? I could wrap this up with four or five cupfuls of water and never tell anyone. Which wouldn’t be lying. I just wouldn’t bring it up. The odds of anyone, for the rest of my life, directly asking me if I ever poured water on my son’s penis for his pleasure are very, very low.
But I don’t do it. I grab a bath toy and make it talk. Which distracts him. I don’t know what it takes to get a job as a Sesame Street muppeteer, but I’m guessing that when they read my resume and it says “so talented he makes people forget their desire to have their genitals stimulated” I’ll have my hands up Elmo in no time.
I know this is going to get worse. That he’s going to become more and more interested in his penis before he matures enough to know not to involve your parents in those conversations. And I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. I hate to think it’s going to be years more of distraction and avoidance, but I wouldn’t be surprised, since that’s how I’ve handled most things about my own penis.
I also don’t want to be the hippie dad who gives my son a speech about how touching your penis feels good and that’s all good, man. And I don’t want to freak him out by telling him to stop. But I don’t want to act so nonchalant that he asks kids at school to pour water on his penis.
For now, I’m going with some version of: You’ve got to pour water on your own penis. At least that’s a lesson he’s going to need for the rest of his life.