The story you are about to read takes place during the hot summer months of 2008. Unfortunately everything you will read is true. I’d really like to say this is a story about chipmunks, ice cream and teddy bears, but it’s not. It’sabout parenting, and the fact that I just can’t leave well-enough alone. For better or worse you neverwhen, if, how, whyor wherethe things you tell a child will come back to haunt you, you justhave to know that it will.
“It’s 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 of her air-conditioned workplace, because I absolutely hate the heat! 82 degrees tops, with a breeze and no humidity, that’s my limit.
“Umph,” was my reply. It only was 7am and the action of this simple response caused me to sweat.
“Maybe you could go to the pool park today?” Cathy suggested. Brilliant idea! It just so happens that we live conveniently around the corner from a public pool and sprinkler park. A perfect, no hassle oasis that has served us well on hot days such as this…
Mid June, about 2 weeks prior….
Lucy had begun to “discover” certain new things about herself. Things that eventually led to the heart-stopping public declaration, “Daddy, I have a Jay-Jay!” This suddenly shocking phrase was the direct result of a “mommy/daughter” conversation that I was uninformed about. You see, I was always told that and one that when discussing the so called “private parts” of one’s body you’re supposed to use the correct anatomical term. So in my current omniscient state I decided to correct, the 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….
It was hot, really hot, hot like, is the sun actually gonna fall on top of us hot. Lucy was slathered in SPF 180 and if it were even the least bit aesthetically pleasing, I would have gladly adorned a Speedo to the sprinkler park.
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 as usual, it’s packed with mommies and nannies.
I release Lucy from her stroller, give a couple of friendly smiles to a few of the faces I recognize, but for the most part, I just stay back and smote the sun. It had only been about 15 minutes, but the heat was just relentless. There is absolutely no shade on the park and I started pick-up the faint 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 and that was 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 begged 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 was shocked, scared and confused. At this point, my sweat had actually begun to scream as it ran 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 had to be a misunderstanding, a simple case of mistaken anatomy, I’m 98% sure that she is using this word out of context, she had 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 little wet 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, very, very “short” shorts, that were also too big and very loose, and what I can only say assume as a confirmation of the heat, she wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Regardless the reason, there it was, right down the barrel of Lucy’s finger less than 8ft away. We were unofficially 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 easier 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 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 a squeeze then begins her post-work questioning.
“So how was your day? 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 concerned, “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. I took a great big breath, a giant gulp of wine and shrugged my shoulders and this is the best I could come up with.
"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."