The Weenie Incident

“So Arnold [not really Arnold] asked us a reeeeally weird question at lunch,” Thalia said, cozying up to me in that way she does when she wants to discuss something but isn’t quite sure how it will play out.

“Well, there were all boy and girls around at lunch and he asked us, Whose weenie would you rather kiss?

“He…what? Whose weenie?”

“Yes.”

“Like…whose penis?”

“Yes. Isn’t that weird?”

“Yes, sweetie, that’s really weird. Was he uh, asking about the boys in the class?”

I’m not sure I breathed until I got an answer.

Fortunately her nose wrinkled at the thought. “No…he gave us choices of Harry Potter, Voldemort, or Gandalf.”

Voldemort’s weenie. Lovely thought.

I am really not entirely sure what I said at that point because various paragraphs from myriad parenting books and articles raced through my head like a bad montage of spinning newspapers in an old movie. I think I said something about how gross that is and that you don’t have to answer any questions like that if it makes you feel uncomfortable. I definitely used the word disgusting. A few times. Which may or may not have been right. Then I talked about how boys often try to say crazy things like that to try and shock people or make them laugh or get attention.

But inside I was thinking, stay away from my daughter, you creepy juvenile pervert. I have your mother’s phone number and I’m not afraid to use it.

Nate has another take: that yes, it’s a weird statement but that this is par for the course. That 7 and 8 year old boys start getting obsessed with their body parts, which means talking about them and thinking about them and dropping them into conversation any chance they get.

I have never been a boy. I do not know such things.

Which is why he likely had the best response: He explained to her that boys may say weird things like that, but if anyone ever asks you to do something like that, you don’t do it and you tell us.

It seems that a large part of our job as parents is to become armchair child behavioral experts, creating the next chapter of the self-help parenting book on the fly. And hope it’s not ridiculously, painfully wrong.

I haven’t the slightest idea how to start approaching stuff like this. But it also makes me realize that there are a lot of things my kids will continue to learn that are out of my hands. Some are good, and some are…well, we send them off into the world, and they will come back with stories about weenie-boys and mean girls and all sorts of incidents that we wish we would remain on the outside of the imaginary plastic bubbles we’ve all created for them at birth, whether we want to admit it or not.

(Admit it: you have one, don’t you?)

Really, I think all we can do is hope by now that we’ve equipped them with enough common sense and basic coping skills that they can react in a semi-appropriate way. And I think she did. Because she called it “weird.”

I also feel like the fact she could tell me in the first place, that was the most important part of all. And I made sure she knew that.

But honestly? I’d be happy not hearing about weenie-kissing until the next Mayan apocalypse.

What would you have done? Call the parents? Discuss it offhandedly at drop-off? Talk to your kids and leave it at that?

Can you believe that we used to have debates about CIO and that actually seemed important at the time?

And who the hell says “weenie” anyway?

{44 Comments}

44 thoughts on “The Weenie Incident”

  1. Methinks that “Arnold” may have walked in on his parents at an inopportune time, and received a touching explanation about how sometimes when you really love someone, you… kiss their weenie.

    So I’m not worried about Thalia. I’m a little worried about Arnold’s parents, though. 😉

    1. And then I passed out from laughter, because this was my initial thought too: Ooooh Arnold done walked in at the wrong (or right, depending on how you view it) time.

      Usually our first response is our best response. Besides, we can always think and revisit later. Trust yourself.
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  2. For me, if it’s a one-time thing, I’d just talk to my kids and leave it at that. If the kid keeps talking about it, I’d either talk to the parents (if I knew them) or have my daughter tell a teacher the next time he does it (which might lead to a suspension, so I don’t know how comfortable you are with that).

    If it’s a big thing that lots of boys keep talking about, or even if it’s just the same kid doing it over and over, I’d also talk to the principal because it’s something the school should address.

    And yes, little boys will say stuff like that just to be gross. Some little girls too. LOL That’s why I hate that so many schools just automatically suspend…we need to teach the kids that it’s inappropriate, not assume they are doing it because they know why it’s inappropriate already and are doing it anyway.

  3. That is just all kinds of weird, but it’s great that your daughter would come talk to you. I hope she always does.

    I think I would save bringing it up with other parents for if there are more incidents.
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  4. I would bet any money that ‘Arnold’ has an older brother – those younger brothers are a wealth of information.
    My oldest learned everything he knows from a younger brother in his camp cabin and now my younger one is hard at work disseminating info.
    I just try to control the misinformation and the talking about weenies with girls.
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    1. That is very true. I used to try to avoid having my son around the boys with older brothers but then he became one. I’m amazed at what feels age appropriate and doesn’t faze me until I hear younger brother sharing it. With boys who have younger brothers. And so it goes.

  5. Ahhh, weenie. Another synonym could have sounded so much more sinister…

    I appreciate your balanced approach; I’m not sure parent phone calls were warranted here (unless we move on from characters’ weenies to classmates’…). The discussions are most important.

    My 9yo came to me last night and admitted she read something online about Adolf Hitler and then kept reading more and was overwhelmed and sad and scared about children in gas chambers….oh loss of innocence. We talked about how terrible it feels to be human and know about what horrible things humans have done to one another. And then we talked about the world working hard to ensure those horrors never happen again… Pieces of my heart both melt and grow during these moments with my kids.

  6. I think I’m with Nate on this one. Just yesterday we were having a discussion related to Sophia the First and how “anything can be a princess thing.” (Good lord.) My 7 year old son said, “Yeah, she can have babies but she doesn’t have a weenie.” Ugh. New discussion about proper names for body parts. I found myself saying things like, “Why are they called toes? Arms? Just use the right names!” Parenting is weird.
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  7. Oh, lord. My son is only 15-months old, but I kind of cringed reading the conversation. Your husband is right, that could have been anyone’s little boy just thinking about his weenie and wanting to drop it into a conversation. If I was the mother of the boy, I would only be mortified to hear what came out of his mouth. But, it would be an embarrassment to deal with after talking to him about what he said…
    It sounds like you handled the situation really well. And it’s great your daughter can talk to you about these things…that really is the most important part!

  8. ugh! I have three girls, the oldest in kindergarten. I do NOT look forward to dealing with stuff like this either! Sounds like you handled it great (and Nate too). Thanks for sharing it with us – gives me some ideas of what to say if I ever need to! (and yes, my girls are totally in bubbles)

  9. The Weenie Incident – followed by a “frank” discussion.

    I think you handled it well. But I’d be lying if I said I was remotely looking forward to these types of situations/conversations when my daughter gets older. Ultimately – as others have said – it’s great that Thalia can come to you and speak openly.

  10. Ugh. I am the parent of those boys. Except in our house, the word “weiner” is hugely hysterical at any point in any conversation. Especially if it is accompanied by a fart noise or an actual fart. Or if you are trying to put your weiner into an empty shampoo bottle in the bathtub and then you fart. That is the ultimate!

    My 7-year-old learned it the word on the bus, I am sure. Now my 4-year- old tries it out. And we talk about potty talk and bathroom words and private bathing suit covered body parts etc…

    Also due to a series of uncomfortable mouth kiss attempts from my boys, (Ew! I feel gross even writing that) we also had to discuss kissing on the lips. And who can and can not kiss on the lips. Grown ups who love each other kiss on the lips. Families and friends do quick cheek kisses, and hugs, and if anyone hugs or kisses you or wants you to hug or kiss them and you don’t want to- tell me immediately!!

    Anyway, I’m sure it is only a matter of time before “weiner” and “lip kissing” come into the same context here. But it will probably be Yoda or Chewbacca. And I don’t think it will be pervy or sexual. Just weird and 7-year-old boy shock value.

    HOWEVER. I will still think it is gross and weird and probably I would want to know in a light and gentle and not accusing way. And I would give a longer than necessary and useless lecture about it.

    And then they would continue to mutcher their weiners in private and crack up about it.

  11. i really like how you both handled this, and also really like nate’s approach. i also agree with rachel that it sounds like ‘arnold’ might have an older brother. i have zero experience with this yet, but anecdotally i can say the following: 1. my husband is the youngest of 3 boys and has told me about all sorts of innocence-squashing things that he learned from his older brothers at a very young age (and thankfully he turned out ok); 2. i have 2 boys, the older one is almost 3–i’m sure he’ll go through all sorts of phases related to his…um…’parts,’ but i’m guessing that all phases include curiosity and slight obsession. right now he really likes talking about how boys have penises and butts and girls have vaginas and butts and then naming various people who have one or the other of those (including our dog: ‘mama, where’s lucy’s vagina?’ ugh.). i’m terrified of hearing from school that he’s talking about his or someone else’s private parts. i’d agree with the person who said that it doesn’t merit a phone call now, but if it continues it might, just so that either the parents or the school can gently explain to the offending party what is appropriate when it comes to ‘weenies.’ i know that i’d want to have that opportunity if it was my kid.

    1. No older brother. Which is why I thought, “where the heck did he get this?” Kids just…pick things up. It’s inevitable.

  12. Oh Lordy, I’d have about died right there.

    One thing I do try to do when things like this happen is not attach it strictly to one gender. I have a boy, and he happens to be about the least likely kid in the room to say something about kissing someone’s weenie. It’s true that some boys will say things like that (and my son says plenty of other types of things that get him a talking-to), but some girls will say equally shocking things. And unfortunately he’s likely to run across some catty boys in his day, as well.

    Honestly, as awkward as it may be for you to be the bearer of the news, maybe his mom or dad should be told? I’d be mortified if it was my own child, but I’d also want and need to know where he got the idea to say that in the first place. It’s just not your run-of-the-mill “yucky” joke, you know?

  13. I think you should be thrilled that your daughter came to you with this sotry. Clearly, the comment made her uncomfortable. (whether it really WAS inappropriate and sexual I leave to the experts to say.) The point is, it’s a very good sign: when someone says something that makes your daughter feel uncomfortable – or even violated – in some way, she comes to you. Bravo to you, your husband, and her.
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  14. Well, I was the mother of the boy who did something similar. It came to my attention because the mother of the girl who my son asked if she wanted to see his weewee (I’m not even sure if I’m spelling this correctly, strangely in our house we insist on the proper names of body parts so not sure where he got this from) told me. They were five. The girl smartly said, “no thank you,” and then told her mom. I was embarrassed for him but I used it as an opportunity to explain why we don’t show our penis in public or ask someone to touch it other than ourselves. It offered an uncomfortable, but good discussion point about sexuality (age-appropriate), and the rights and wrongs of touching, appropriate places and people to talk about it, etc. The truth is that even children as young as ours experience sexuality and if everyone tells them it’s wrong, it’s going to backfire. There are some very good books on how to talk to your children about sexuality which are divided by age, so it uses age-appropriate language and highlights the issues they may be facing at a particular age. Short answer, I think Nate hit the nail on the head with this one.

    1. He’ll be glad to know!

      Also I think what happened is perfectly five year-old normalcy. How great that you got the opportunity to talk about it. It makes me wonder if I should bring it up to the mom so she can get the same chance.

  15. Good to know that at four, it’s butts and farts and at seven it’s weenie. WHAT? I am new to this boy thing. I like to know what comes later. Heh. At my house, everything is about butts right now. The boy is obsessed.

    I am with Nate on this one. I have brothers. It’s allllll about the weenie for years. I think what you said to Thalia is exactly right. If it becomes an all the time conversation, it’d be good to mention it to parents/teachers. In the moment, it sounds really innocent.

    Voldemort’s weenie. Ewwwwww
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  16. I think you handled it way better than I would have (will have to?!). If she brings it up again, then yeah, maybe talk to the other mom and the teacher, but otherwise it seems best to leave it alone.

    Also, really?! This is how 7 and 8yo boys think? Who the heck knew.

  17. My son pretended a water balloon was his penis and was running around with it outside when I was informed by the parents of one of the other kids playing outside. I acted appropriately mortified, told him that we don’t do that, and why, and all about private parts, etc. Then when he went to his room, I silently cracked up. Yeah, I am bad, but I mean, it did look like a penis the way it was full of water and the way it just happened to look, it was all long, etc. Of course, when the song sexy and I know it came out, he sang I’m sexy and I farted in his first grade class, and I got a call from the teacher on that as well, and how inappropriate it was. The word sexy, not farted. Sigh. I am in trouble as the years go by. I have *that* child.
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  18. I agree that as a one-time incident, this sounds like pretty normal 7 year old boy behavior. Particularly because they are just talking about kissing weenies and not actually asking her to do anything. I think it is ok for kids to talk about this stuff and say words like weenie just because they’re funny (just not at the dinner table). If you hear more similar stories involving the same kid, I would think about calling the mom and giving her a friendly heads-up (because I would want that if it was my son talking about stuff like this regularly). I also think it’s a good sign that your daughter felt comfortable enough to come talk to you when something “weird” happened at school – definitely makes you think that she will come talk to you again if it happens again.

  19. The bar is going to get higher. And calm, direct response that put clear boundary (like what Nate did) is all you can do. Because, later (much later?) it is not going to be about imaginary weenies, it is going into realm of “if you don’t try it (some drug), you are not friend/cool/part of us”. This type of conversations are not reserved for “bad schools” or “questionable friends”. Only thing you can do is try to shape your own kids with making boundary obvious and clear and outlining negative consequences. And keep doors open – one wrong choice should not be the end of the world. As long as kids feel safe to confide in parents, you are good.

    It really is true the old saying: the bigger the kids, the bigger the worry. Brace yourself.

  20. Max asked Dylan to kiss his penis last year in the bathtub (he was 6 at the time, and she was 10). She nearly threw up on him. In his defense, he was totally sincere. From his perspective, his penis is AWESOME, and when things are awesome, you kiss them. I think Nate is spot on. 🙂
    Similarly, when they asked me what that “Blow my Whistle Baby” song was about and I told them, he thought it was hilarious. Dylan once again nearly lost her lunch.
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  21. We just had a similar conversation with my middle schooler. Except, it’s the current rage at our well-off, tony suburban middle school for boys, evidently, is to take openly about oral and anal sex and this is the constant, non-stop talk, according to my daughter.

    A few of my middle school teacher friends said that if you really want to be shocked into the blood completely draining from your being and just tossing up your hands in disgust, talk to a middle school gym teacher. Evidently, the stuff they hear the kids talking about in locker rooms and in health class makes Urban Dictionary look like a book of preschool nursery rhymes. Kids. Are. Filthy. And – as opposed to back in my day – seemingly very open with it.

    Half the stuff my daughter told me the boys openly talk to the girls about – for shock value, sure – are things I never in my wildest fantasies even thought about until well into college. And then some.

    I’m glad as well that my daughter felt comfortable telling me. Still. Ugh.
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    1. That said, I don’t think this little boy was being “filthy.” I have a 6yo son, and I think it was just 6yo wondering and being goofy and maybe hearing something an older kid was saying. Little kids rarely understand the full implications of what they were saying.

      How I would handle it…well, I did just have to handle a similar situation, again, with middle school kids. The key point is to NOT put the other parent on the defensive, and always allow them a way to say not feel ashamed.

      At this recent incident, I approached it as, “the entire group of kids was doing X. I know kids are curious. I had a talk with my own daughter about expectations. I didn’t know whether you had heard about what happened, but just wanted to fill you in. Kids these day!” I use humor. I try to say, “omg, the same thing happened one time with my kid. I never know exactly what to do, but I’m glad someone told me before someone else blew it way out of proportion.”

  22. Wow, I can’t believe that no one has said this yet: I’d give the teacher/principal a call.

    Yes, it’s likely exactly as innocent as it seems when you look at it from the little boy perspective (and yes, I have three, count ’em three, boys, ages 10-21).

    However, your school wants to know because they can be aware and keep an eye out. The last thing they want is to be on the news because two (or more!) kids were found kissing each other in, um, that way. And parents aren’t so forgiving, especially if they learn that these conversations were happening before the incident occurred.

    I’d definitely just phrase it as a “heads up” to them, so they don’t think your next step is the TV news as a distraught mom. 😉

    But, there are kids who know way more than they should these days. I worked at one school where each grade had an age-appropriate talk with a counselor from an anti-rape coalition in the area. This was prompted by a kindergartener crawling under the tables, asking other k’ers to “suck his dick.” Gentle questioning by school counselor determined he *did* in fact mean what he said.

    Same school there was also a 2nd grader doing a very, uh, dramatic demonstration of the above mentioned activity with a banana at the lunch table.

    Between the internet and TVs with cable in every room and houses with all sorts of random people living in them, there are kids out there who are exposed to actual visuals of things they can’t process. Or sadly, can process way too young.

    So, I think you handled it perfectly with Thalia. I don’t think you need to make a big deal, but I do think the school would like to know — better to be on the look out and able to talk about what we do and don’t say or do in school as needed!

    1. I appreciate another perspective Jen, but there’s no way I’m going to bother the principal with what was likely an innocent testing of waters with funny words. And certainly not before giving his parents the courtesy of telling them first–if I go that way.
      I don’t think it was harassment in any way; I really think it’s a little kid wondering if he can shock someone, and probably doesn’t know what he’s saying. So I guess that’s where I would draw the line as far as alerting someone with more authority than a parent.

  23. While Nate, no doubt, had good advice, I also liked that you told Thalia that she doesn’t have to answer questions that make her feel uncomfortable.

    I don’t know that I would have done anything other than talk to my child about the incident. Though I like Josette’s way of bringing it up with the other child’s parent(s).

    This whole parenting on the fly business can be hard. Some days I do wish I had a manual to follow. But I think Arnebya is right about trusting our gut responses (with the option to revisit later if necessary).

  24. The joys of parenting and making everything up as we go. Situations are all so different. I think that you and Nate did a great job talking about it with her.

    We have had similar incidents and I wouldn’t bring them up to the parent or school at this point. He clearly wasn’t being forward in that way. It probably fascinates him some that anybody would want to kiss a weenie.

    It sounds a bit like a line from a movie, and so often kids will notice things we don’t.

    Oh boy.
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  25. GAH! I have 3 girls and am NOT looking forward to any of these awkward conversations. I’ll start practicing now.

    When I was in elementary school (don’t remember which grade) we had a boy who repeatedly pulled his “weenie” out under the lunch table. I mentioned it offhandedly to my mom, much like Thalia did you to (“so weird!”). I’m sure she mentioned it to the school, because I don’t remember it happening again.
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  26. Before I had a son of my own, I never could have imagined how much time I would spend talking about penises. I grew up in a house full of girls. I just couldn’t conceive. And reading your story, I’m thinking about how I would handle it from both sides – for my daughter or my son (assuming he would be the asker). And I really don’t have much.
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  27. OMG, I have 2 girls and DON’T know how to start these awkward conversations. I hope i can do this.

  28. It sounds like you handled it terrifically with your daughter, but I’ll offer another perspective on the boy. I would tell his parents what happened out of concern that the boy may have learned the concept of “kissing weenies” from being on the receiving end of sexual abuse, and that he was saying what he said to test the normalcy of the concept with his peers. I would want to put it on the parents’ radar so that it can be gently discussed with him.

    I work in a field that gives me a lot of exposure to child abuse, so I tend to be very sensitive to any possible signs of abuse or potentially unsafe habits. That also means that I frame what I say in situations like this one with a disclaimer that I represent the most cautious end of the spectrum, which I hope makes my concerns slightly less alarmist and more understandable.

    1. Thanks Amanda–I figured this comment would come up eventually (and sooner). Knowing the family well, I would find it inordinately hard to believe, but I can see why your work would shape your perspective and it’s a good point.

  29. My first reaction: OMG, OMG, OMG…. I’m so, so, soooo not ready for this! Ok, breathe… in and out, in and out…

    After getting a hold on myself and reading Mir’s comment (the first one in the list), I’m a little relieved that there is a possible justifiable explanation for it (which for the life of me, I did not see!) and that I will not be sending my baby out into the Kindergarten World of wierdos and meanies later this year…

    (And, Hi Liz, I’m a new reader… I’ve spent a few hours now on this blog and your articles on “mommybloggings” really helped me get a grasp on my vague unexplained fears of entering the world of parent aka mommy blogging. You’ll see me around :))

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