Patrick AyersWe try to be sex positive parents.

That’s a relatively new term but it basically means we do what we can and what is appropriate to ensure that when the kids grow up they have happy and healthy attitudes about sex and sexuality.  They understand about consent and boundaries.  They understand that sex is something that adults do and, as long as everyone is on the same page, it is natural and not shameful (although it is still gross, according to T2).  They understand that there are a variety of sexualities and for example, gay people (or, as we call them “people”) deserve the same rights and respect as heterosexual people.  My helpful contribution to this latter point is something that my father said to me when I was young and that I now repeat to the boys.

“There are plenty of reasons to not like people,” I will sagely tell them, “but hating someone because of their race or sexuality just makes you a moron.  Dislike people for matters that are under their control, not things that aren’t.”

I’m pretty certain my father cribbed that from Gandhi.

Anyway, we are doing what we can.  One of those things is ensuring that the boys know that their penis is called a penis and that matters of sexuality can be discussed and that they can ask questions if they have them.  They tend not to be shy about it.

“I’m concerned about my penis,” T2 apparently said to Cass the other day.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“It’s pretty small.”

I wasn’t there, but I wish I had been just so I could have seen the look on her face.

“You’re nine,” she said, “your penis is supposed to be small.”


“Let’s go talk to Patrick.”

I was standing in the kitchen, fixing dinner, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. T1 was standing at the island reading something for school.

“Patrick,” said Cass,”T2 has some concerns about his penis.”

I managed not to cut my fingers off.

“What?” I said. “What’s wrong with it?”

“He thinks his penis is small,” she said.

I looked at T2 who was looking at me with an eyebrow cocked, if you will excuse the expression.  Before thinking about it, I said, “Yeah, you and every other dude on the planet.”

“What does that even mean?” he asked.

“Never mind. You’re nine,” I said. “You penis is supposed to be small.”

“That’s what she said,” T2 said, pointing at his mother.  T1 stood surprisingly quiet but with a look on his face as if he had just won the lottery.

“Your mom is certainly the expert on penises,” I said.  Then, out loud, I said, “Don’t worry, it’s exactly the size it should be and it will get bigger.  Just like the rest of you.”

I wanted to ask him, “Why is this an issue?  Like, what made this even occur to you?” but before I could he asked a follow up question.

“How big?”

“What?” Cass and I both said, having perfectly understood him but both of us, I think, stalling for time.

“How big will my penis get?”

At this point, T1, still silent, was having to use the island to hold himself up.  I was going to say something but T2 wasn’t done.

“I think,” he said, “ten inches would be good.”

I broke up laughing.

“What?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “ten inches would be very good.”

“That’s about like this,” he said, holding his hands about two feet apart, “right?”

“Jesus T2,” said T1, finally breaking his silence, “are you going for ten inches long or across?”

Cass tried to reign in the conversation.

“The average penis size,” she said, “is about five to five and a half inches.”

“Mom does know a lot about penises,” T2 said, echoing my earlier though.  He meant it because her job, which is being the director of operations for a concierge men’s sexual health medical practice, and I knew that’s what he meant, but it still put me into hysterics.  T1 looked like he was about to explode when Cass expanded on her little factoid.

“And it will probably grow until you are twenty or so,” she said.

T1 eyes widened at this new bit of information, his hands went up into the air in victory and he began dancing around the kitchen.


Starbuck the dog ran into the kitchen and began running in circles around him as he celebrated.


Now Cass was laughing.

“Wait!” I said. “That’s as good as admitting that you’ve measured it!”

T1 stopped and looked at me deadpan.

“Well,” he said, completely unembarrassed, “yeah, of course.”

Then back to the celebration.


“I don’t understand why this matters,” T2 said.

“You started it!” I said.

“It doesn’t,” Cass said.

“Thank god for that,” I said.

Pandemonium reigned for a short while, then we had dinner and a relative calm returned.  I am going to follow up with T2 this week to find out if there is a specific reason he is suddenly aware that penis size is even a thing.  I suspect it is because he is wearing a cup for the first time due to playing tackle football.  He literally has a specific piece of armor to protect it, which logically puts it on a little higher level of importance.  I want to make sure, though.

We want the boys to be comfortable with themselves.  Apparently, they are.

News part one: If you just can’t get enough of one of the stars of acleanandshinyplace.com, specifically T2, you’ll be happy to know that Cass and I started a twitter feed for the random stuff he says that isn’t expansive enough to make it here.  You can follow him at @talking2t2

News part two:Sometime next week or the follow week I’ll be migrating the blog to its own server.  It may mess up some of the links but, overall, shouldn’t effect you- the constant reader- all that much.  I’ve been threatening to do it for awhile and now is the time.

News part three: I actually ran this whole post by T1 before I posted it.  I wanted to make sure he was okay with it being out there.

“Am I okay with people knowing my penis is above average?” he asked. “I want EVERYBODY to know that.  I’m thinking about getting it printed on a t-shirt. You’re fine.”



2 thoughts on “Units

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