Monday, October 23, 2006

When My Name Was Mommy

My son has always had a great capacity for assimilating data and putting it to use quickly. When he was two and my older daughter was three and a half, it dawned on me that I could bathe them together as they were both out of diapers and not yet adolescent. I placed them in a tub of bubbles and lathered them while they played with their bath toys.

Suddenly, J stood up and began to circle E, a look of deep concentration on his face.

“Mommy!" he exclaimed. "E has a different kind of penis.”

E held J's rubber ducky under water until it drowned and snapped, “Stupid! Don’t you know a vagina when you see one?”

I explained that boys have penises and girls have vaginas, and they went back to splashing each other and racing their plastic boats.

The next day, I was at the grocer's with J perched in the kiddie seat, swinging his legs and grabbing whatever he could off the shelves.

A sweet little old lady shuffled up to us with her walker and cooed, “Ohhh, you are the most beeeyootiful widdle boy!”

He looked her dead in the eye, and then beamed radiantly as he made the connection.

“You have a bagina, don’t you? “ he crowed.

She clutched her breast and gasped, and I thought she would have a heart attack and fall down right in the cereal aisle of Stop & Shop.

When she didn’t die, I pushed my shopping cart away and said, “Honey, it’s vagina with a va, not a ba.”

But J's attention had already moved on to Fruit Loops, which had a very nice picture on the box.

The only thing I ever knew J to fear was haircuts. When he was 2 1/2, his father decreed that “MY SON will not have long hair anymore.” So we took the children to Mr. Gay, a fashionable children’s barber on Madison Avenue in New York.

E went first. She adored the attention, the swivel chair that went up and down, the praise for being such a good girl, her new look, and the red lollipop at the end.

It turned out that J had a Sampson thing going. He accelerated to full hysteria as soon as he was placed in the chair. He could not be reasoned with, he could not be bribed. He was uncontrollable, a small whirlwind, squirming, leaping, thrashing and full-bore pedal to the metal screaming.

E stood by his chair, watching with scientific detachment as she licked her lollipop. The parents of other children put down their magazines and stared in horror. I was ready to pay the barber to stop, but MY SON had to have short hair.

Mr. Gay said, “I can’t do this,” threw off his smock and headed for the door. He was about 90 years old, had given thousands of children haircuts, but he had met defeat in the form of a small but determined blond cherub with exceptional vocal chords.

As the barber disappeared down the street, the other barber (I think he was Mr. Gay’s father) came over and began to cut J’s hair, trying to establish a rhythm between wild leaps and flailing arms. We had to tip him double.

You would think this torture would not be repeated, but a few months later, MY SON had hair hanging in his eyes and over his ears again, so off we went.

E got a lollipop but no haircut, which clearly disappointed her, and J was hoisted, screaming, into The Bad Chair. This time both barbers joined forces to perform the operation, one holding him down while the other attempted to cut his golden fleece on the downswing.

J’s ear got nicked, and I said, “That’s it. Let him go.”

He got two lollipops, and we left.

For the next few years, I cut his hair at night, while he slept, like a stealth bomber with scissors. I would drape a towel over his pillow and turn him like a chicken on a spit, this way and that, until the deed was done, collect all four corners of the hairy towel in one hand while propping J’s head with the other. He never once woke up, and I don’t think he ever noticed the difference because he had no interest in mirrors.

Years later, when he began to notice girls, he suddenly became GQ-worthy and brushed his teeth voluntarily, showered without being reminded, and even took himself for haircuts. I don’t know if they gave him lollipops.

When my younger daughter, C, was 6, she got the part of Lucy in her school play, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." Her father took her to a costume shop near an area of Boston known as the Combat Zone, which is the red light district. He must have looked like a pedophile with a mini-skirted little girl in pink Miss Piggy sneakers. She noticed that the "lamppost ladies" were swinging their pocketbooks, so she swung her Snoopy umbrella.

A very old man was walking slowly ahead of C and her father.

A scantily-clad woman in a doorway said, "Wanna fuck?"

The old man said, "What?"

She repeated herself, louder. "Wanna fuck?"


She sighed impatiently and said it again, louder than before.

He cupped his ear and said, "I'm sorry, miss, but you'll have to speak up. I can't hear you."

The hooker put her hands around her mouth and yelled, "DO.YOU.WANT.TO.FUCK!"

My daughter said to the woman, "Whatever it is, he doesn't want to. His ears don't work anymore."


mist1 said...

This is why it is your duty as a parent to embarass the crap out of these children when they are adolescents.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Oh, I was. And I'm sure I continue to be a great embarrassment to them today.

My youngest had to survive junior high with a mother in long braids, headbands and fringed moccasins to the knee, while her friends' moms were Southern Stepford wives. She was too young to drive, we lived miles from the school, and I was her fringed and beaded ride. Adolescent angst doesn't get much worse.

Nihilistic said...

I would pay to have seen old lady bagina's face when she heard that!

Christina_the_wench said...

I simply love your children. Mostly because they are not mine and they embarassed you and not me, but that is neither here nor there.

Happy Bagina and Penis day to you, heart.

Crankster said...

When I talk to people about my daughter, I worry that I cross the line between cute and cutesy. You are my hero--these are awesome stories!

Odat said...

Great memories to have...and now that blogs are vogue too, you can re-embarrass them!!!!

nmj said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nmj said...

Often, stories about children can be cloying and not interesting at all, but this is funny as hell!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.


Who says I was embarrassed? Happy B&P Day to you, too!


Thank you! I hadn't thought of blogging about my childrens' childhoods because adoration is usually boring. My niece just told me that her year-old baby had his first haircut, which I hope went better than MY son's, and it brought back memories.


Now that DID occcur to me - after I posted them.


Glad I could help. I taught them to express themselves, and they did.

Dan said...

Enough funny stories here for multiple posts!

Hey, it's a good thing your son didn't ask Mr. Gay whether he had a penis! ;)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That would have been a very good question considering the fact that he wasn't able to face down a small, phobic child.

thethinker said...

That was hilarious.

I think my first hair cut involved a bunch of ropes and at least two people holding me in place. I was deathly afraid of scissors, and sadly, my mom wasn't as sneaky as you with the haircuts.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm still afraid of haircuts because I've had so many bad ones, not just the self-inflicted wounds.

Thanks for coming by. YOUR blog is great, and I'll be back soon.

Lex said...

Aww. You make me want to strike out a few of my 496 reasons not to have kids.

These stories are too funny and cute.

urban-urchin said...

The sleeping haircut is genuis! I will have to try it with my screaming howling scissor phobe 18mo. old.

Those stories are priceless- baginas and your youngest telling off a hooker.

Well done.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Only 496 to go. I must admit, my children made quite a few converts to parenthood among friends and strangers in their day.


I hope it works for you. I hope even more that it isn't necessary.

Kevin Charnas said...



This was too much...excellent, excellent. wonderful, excellent...

thanks, i've been a crab for 3 days, I needed that.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you! The problem with kids is that they grow up much too fast.

Mine are still very funny people, and the joke is usually on me these days.

Michael C said...

That is a great story about memories. Lucy and Ethel's hair is almost to their waists (they're a small 4 and were born preemies. Next month they are getting it cut off and we're donating it to locks of love. I'm already nervous about their looks changing so drastically.

I guess I better get used to it!

Lee said...

Once, in line at a very crowded Walmart, my younger son placed the roll of birthdy gift wrap we were trying to purchase squarely over his wee and loudly, happily proclaimed, "LOOK MOM!! MY WEE IS HUGE!!"

It was a proud moment.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I didn't know your girls were twins. Donating to locks of love is a beautiful thing to do! How lovely that they're learning about compassion and generosity so young.


I'm sure it was. What is it with guys and their wees?

Pendullum said...

My friend just called me and it is line with your family talk...
She was mortified as she went to Family night at the school. and there was a picturethat her daughter drew of the family. My girlfriend was in a dress, her daughter was in a dress, there was their dog, there was their fish, and there was her husband, naked with a giant penis. Everyone gathered round to look at her Daughter's pic.
My girlfriend just blushed. Her husband was mortified.
And when they were walking home she asked her daughter why Daddy was naked and everyone else was clothed in her family portrait.
and her daughter's reply'I can't draw pants'

heartinsanfrancisco said...


But she CAN draw penises. Wow! I hope nobody reported them to Social Services after drawing certain conclusions.

I love the matter-of-factness of their daughter's response, as if ANYBODY would know that. Kids are amazing!!

monicker said...

Hilarious, through-and-through! I'm so glad there are parents like you!

djn said...

Love, love, love it!! Those are great stories. My favorite was the granny who has a bagina. LOL

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Awww, thank you!! I hope my kids think so, too.


The poor dear. I do hope she recovered from her shock and lived to be 100. Bagina and all.

Baginas of the World, Unite.

Pickled Olives said...

Oh my! That's good!Did she ever talk about this story to you when she finally found out what it meant?

Lex said...

You're back!! Yay!!! What happened yesterday?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


She told me about it at the time. I think she was pleased that she had her Snoopy umbrella to swing since she didn't have a purse.

And she was great in the play!!:)


I've discovered the tv show, Without a Trace. Wednesday, they have FOUR episodes in a row. I watched all of them.

Lex said...


All day yesterday your url was liked to some bike racer's site. It was spooky.

When I'd go to your profile I'd get you, and when I clicked on your link to your blog in your profile it went to the biker site.

I thought you'd abandoned us.

katrice said...

Kids are the best humans in the world!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you so much for telling me this! I had no idea. Blogger does some weird and frustrating things. I'll see if I can get them to explain this, though usually they just send a form letter with help links.

I'm not going anywhere. I love my blog, and my blog friends.

If this happens again, please leave me a message on YOUR blog, Lex. I've very devoted and will be sure to see it. Thanks!!


Absolutely. Too bad we grow into people. :)

An explosive said...

LOL.. yuo have to love kids! ~M

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My Heart,

:<) !!!

Old Scrote said...

Goodness, you achieved the almost impossible: you made your children interesting to other people. Mostly when I start to tell stories about my two, people's eyes glaze over. Thank you for a wonderful read.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Hi Jake,

I appreciate the compliment, but I didn't make them interesting. THEY did.


Too funny! Great stories, all three.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Hey, girl! Thank you so much.

furiousBall said...

My three year old daughter talks about her vagina and my "keep-the-daughter-off-the-stripper-pole" reflexes twinge a bit. Any mention of the word from my little angel's mouth instantly brings visions of clear high heels and a bad lower back tattoo.

flutter said...

I think I just ruptured my spleen.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You're so funny! Chris Rock has a hilarious routine in which he says "Raising girls is easy -- you just gotta keep them off the pole."

I taught my kids the proper words so they wouldn't have to learn a whole second language a few years later, but we did get a lot of strange (sometimes outraged) looks when the little cherubs called body parts and functions by their real names.


Well, I hope you needed a laugh just then. Thanks for taking the trouble to read this old post.