“…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
I’ve had the privilege of bringing three girls and one little boy into this extraordinary world. But, before our family was complete, and I was only towing around Ashlyn and Mattilyn, I used to think that my sister fed her boys crazy juice. Then Chase burst into our lives and I realized the only difference between her kids and mine was that hers were boys and mine were girls. Crazy juice had nothing to do with it.
I am sure my son is no more ‘boy’ than most of the mini-men rumbling and tumbling through homes all over the world. But, fate has positioned him in between three pretty sisters and the contrast puts him in the spotlight more often than not. It’s almost as if all our female genes got divvied up evenly three ways, resulting in a lovely variety of sugar and spice delicacies, while all of our male genes got crammed into one little guy, causing him to burst forth at the seams with everything ‘boyish’.
I admit, the crazy contrast between Chasey and my girls often plays tricks on my eyes, making him seem even more ‘boy’ than he is. It may be this illusion or even the simple fact that he and I are just wired differently, that this sweet little man I am privileged to call my son, challenges me like none of the other kids do. Nevertheless, I am sure he’s God’s secret weapon, gifted to me, that I might learn to think outside the box.
Just two weeks after Chase turned four I plopped him into pre-school. I think I was worried that he wouldn’t like school as much as his sisters seemed to and I figured giving him a head start might help with the adjustment. But, he surprised us all by loving every minute of it. Apparently, even busy little boys love to learn when given the chance to do so. His teachers adored him and he naturally loved them back. I never heard a single complaint from either side until about half way through the school year and it just so happened to coincide with a little bout of fondling he was challenging me with at home.
My girls have nothing to dangle. Not yet anyways. And I am surmising that it’s just not as much fun to touch things that just sit in their place - so I did not come head to head with these kind of playful hands until I was three deep in my mothering career. Chase, happened to have something that dangled, and consequently, he just couldn’t help himself from playing with it. I was really brilliant the first time I sat him down to chat with him about it. I told him God gave him private parts and everything that comes from God is good, as long as we use them for good. But, I was pretty certain that man-handling one’s pee-pee, twenty-four-seven, was not the good use God had in mind when He decided to bless him with the little dangling gift.
I think I recited my eloquent ‘dangling gift’ speech a few times, leaving him more and more confused, before I sought out the only other person in our family who could shed wisdom on the dangly dilemma. My husband, so wisely, reassured me it was completely natural for dudes to touch the family jewels. Thus, Chase was just doing what dudes do. Then I think he might have grabbed his own balls deliberately, just for effect. It’s funny that I found peace in this silly explanation, but I did.
Soon, I’d see Chasey with his hands in his pants and smile, thinking to myself, he’s just like his daddy, a natural little man. We made sure we were washing our hands before we ate or snuggled with our mommy and life carried on as usual for a while. That is, until his teacher asked me about the infection.
Chase’s pre-school teacher pulled me aside one day after class to very kindly inform me that ‘we’ had a little problem. It seemed that in allowing Chase the freedom to be a penis-fondling little man at home, he had become so comfortable with his hands-on habit that he decided to take it with him to school. Most kids smuggle in toys from home or the occasional frog in their pocket. But, not my fine prince. He brought the family jewels to school and just couldn’t keep his hands off them.
The transition from fondling at home to fondling at school must have come on fast and furious because Chase’s teachers were sure he might have come down with an infectious itch of one kind or another (no joke). I, of course, knew it had nothing to do with any sort of rash or contamination. So, I quickly came to the conclusion that there was a time and a PLACE for everything and my little guy needed to understand that it wasn’t so much what he was doing, but how and where he was doing it, that was the problem.
Now, I need to mention something before I move along. I don’t really like the scientific names we have for our private parts when it comes to the little ones in my life. Vagina and penis just sound way too grown up and multi-functional for little kids. My sister has a very strong belief that you call it what it is, that important things such as these demand to be discussed using only their scientific surnames. I get this. They deserve a little respect. But, when those multi-functional surnames come out of the mouths of babes, I feel uncomfortable. So, we do things a little differently at our house.
In the Hohn house, from the tender age of talking, up until we can no longer say it without giggling, we call our private parts ‘pee-pees’. I know it sounds silly and that we might, quite possibly, be disrespecting the private parts themselves. But, at this point in the little lives of my children the only function a penis or a vagina serves is to pee. So, ‘pee-pee’ seems like a very functional name. It makes sense to them. We have girl pee-pees and boy pee-pees, innies and outies if you will. They help us pee. End of story, for now.
I am not ashamed of how we do things around here. In fact, I like it when we have our own quirky approach on life. Most families do. My husband’s family called it ‘your business’ when he was little. My memory kind of sucks so I, of course, can’t remember what we called it when I was young but I most assuredly know it was not PENIS and VAGINA. If it had been, I am pretty sure I’d be more comfortable with them. I have added this side note only so you have a chance of comprehending the upcoming conversation I had with my ‘pee-pee’ fondling little boy. It can get confusing, so just try to put yourself in his size nine tennies and digest it as a four-year old.
It’s funny what ends up sinking in. How what works for one little person, doesn’t necessarily work another. Penis doesn’t work for us but it does for my sister’s family. My gift from God speech didn’t do the trick with Chase, but his dad’s ‘freedom to be who you are’ wisdom wasn’t quite panning out either. So, at a loss for ‘grown-up’ words , I squatted down to my little man’s level and spoke to him in little boy terms. My new and improved speech went something like this…
“Chase Michael, when you go pee-pee, pee-pee germs dribble down your pee-pee (see, slightly confusing – but he knows what I am saying). So, every time you put your hands down your pants to play with your pee-pee, as fun as that may be, you must know you are actually getting pee-pee germs on your hands – right?” I get a nod. “And if you are at school when this playing occurs and you get pee-peep germs on your hands, what do you think happens when you touch the toys or color or read a book? “
My sweet little boy, who is really so far from being a man, looked at me with glimmers of awe and surprise in his eyes and then in a distant and timid voice confessed that he was pretty sure his pee-pee germs were everywhere. It was as if I was watching him discover pee-pee germs all over his classroom in his mind’s eye. Like when they put the black light in a hotel room to uncover all the germies left behind from past occupants, secretly contaminating the big white heavenly beds, so eloquently made by someone else, forever ruining any future stays in the laps of luxury. He seemed to be getting it, so I continued.
“Now buddy, if your friends play with the same toys you play with and read the books you read and color with same crayons you color with what do you think gets on their hands? Pretty soon you have a classroom full of friends covered in YOUR pee-pee germs, touching each other and spreading your pee-pee all over kingdom come. And before you know it, one of them is going to yawn or rub their eye or sneeze and you and I both know what is going to get in their eyes, or heaven forbid sneak into their mouths right?”
In his mind, the glow in the dark visions of his pee-pee germs had now invaded every inch of his beloved classroom and seeped into the orifices of all of his friends, so he answered me softly and humbly, with a tone of understanding that made me wonder if he might be transforming into a little man, at long last, right before my eyes. “Yes, mama.”
I felt like I was on a roll so I went in for a big finish by declaring something about how no one wanted someone else’s pee-pee germs, on their toys or in their mouths. And just as I was galloping along nicely on my high horse, with a sense of accomplishment surging through my veins, Chase’s little voice brought me back down to where I belonged. My brilliant little guy looked at me with freshly enlightened, yet slightly appalled, big brown eyes and asked me why I had never told him this before. Instantly, with this one dismayed inquisition, I was grounded.
I so desperately wanted to tell him that I didn’t think it was that simple. That I was afraid of making him think his God-given gift of a penis/pee-pee was a bad thing. That his sister’s didn’t play with themselves so I didn’t have much experience with such things. That his dad had said it was a normal dude thing to do and I didn’t know it was going to end up embarrassing us both at school. That I was so used to thinking inside the box, I had forgotten how to think outside of it. And, that I was so thankful for him in my life because he was helping me step outside of it and see it from his unadultered perspective. But, I didn’t. I just told him I was sorry for not letting him know before. Because the simple truth was, I should have.
I am pretty sure he never fondled his little jewels at school again. If he did, his teachers either didn’t see it or he was just sure to wash the pee-pee germs off right away, fearing any possible future black light investigations, so his teachers didn’t mind so much. His hands-on experiences even seemed to diminish at home. And that was that.
The moral of my story? Sometimes the simple truth is all we need. So many things in life demand thoughtful contemplation, just the right timing or the just the right words. But, some things just need to be dealt with plainly. And that pee-pee speech turned out to be some of my best work to date.
Days later when I was re-telling the pee-pee story for the umpteenth time I couldn’t help but wonder to myself what simple truths I might be missing out on. What kind of germs I might be spreading around my own little world.
Sometimes the truth gets lost. We under think it or we over think it. It sits there in-between the two extremes waiting for us to discover it. Lost in an abyss of attempts to understand a world that is much too intricate for us to even begin to fathom. In our crazed search for it we bypass the easy answers, the simple explanations, the obvious bits of evidence that would surely set us right.
What is this truth that will set us free? Could it possibly be that we were made for more than ‘this’, these acts that are dirtying our hands and contaminating the world around us? The little lies we are telling ourselves or hiding behind. The selfish deeds we are doing. The trespasses we are failing to forgive. The things we are coveting. All the little sins that are sneaking in to our being and growing into something bigger and darker and dirtier than we ever could have imagined them to be. So much so, that eventually they create blinders on our eyes and we can no longer see the truth. The truth that our choices don’t just affect us. When the reality is, that each choice we make is bouncing off the walls of our soul and echoing out in the world and into everything we touch. We may not see it or feel it as we pass it on, but it spreads none the less. And I am certain this is not what we were created for.
I am reminded, through the fondling hands of my little boy, that we all have bad habits. Sometimes we are naive to them because we’ve missed out on a simple truth. Some start out small avoiding our attention, slowly taking over our will to fight. Or we hide them so no one else will discover them allowing them to fester and grow. Others, sit on our sleeves for all the world to see, disguised as ‘common’. They latch onto us claiming ‘everybody does it – so then it must be fine’. Or we just blatantly hold fast to them ourselves, in an act of rebellion, demanding the freedom to do whatever we want. But, it isn’t until we recognize them for what they are and understand the effects that they have, not only us, but on those around us that we are truly liberated.
I wish I was like Chase. I wish I could hear this simple truth and experience an enlightening eureka moment that would set me right forever. There is too much out there that needs my love and attention to be wasting my time with love sucking, germ infesting habits. But, I’m not. It seems one bad habit starts whenever another has finally been squashed. Or the same stubborn one is relentless and I just cannot seem to free myself from it. It’s madness. The things I desire in my heart to do, I repeatedly do not do. And the things I despise doing, I continually do. (Romans 7:15 ~ My version). I am literally a slave to them.
In steps the glorious and redemptive process of ‘washing’ our hands. Thank God for soaps and antibacterial gels. Without the ability to wash our hands, who knows what kind of disease I’d spread across the world. But, even more so, I’m thankful for the cleansing of my spirit that He offers. It’s obvious that the kind of purifier I am in desperate need of, is the kind that can never be used up. Thank God that my sins can be washed away, that with a little determination and a good dose of truth I can be freed from the things that hold me back from being the person I so desperately want to be. Free to pass along His love rather than my inequity germs.
I am so blessed to have a little boy in my life like Chase, who teaches me simple little truths along the way. He’s a gift that reassures me God knows me well. So well – He knew I’d need a little man in my life to help me think outside of the box I have constructed around myself. He even knew I’d respond well to ‘pee-pee’ germ lessons, that in Chase’s challenges I would discover a way to take on my own. In all their ookiness, pee-pee germs merely remind me of my own bad habits that need to be tamed, that I might love as well and as much as He first loved us. They remind me not to complicate them, or rationalize them – but to strip them down to the simple faults they are, use the truths that are offered to us all and continue to fight them with everything I have in me.