Growing up in sheltered Clinton, pre-Internet age, I didn't have many chances to see naked men.
Up until Brian, my experience with male nudity was slim to actually none.
My point being, because Brian is my only experience, I thought male parts came in one way — cut.
Last week while skimming through my "What to Expect Book," I came across circumcision, a chapter I skipped for obvious reasons. Now it's back with the vengeance as motherly instincts collide. A mother is driven to protect her child from both physical and emotional pain, explaining why my sockets, stairs, toilets and chemicals are blocked, even to me.
When Scarlett was born, I swaddled her with Bubble Wrap and taped Styrofoam to the corners of the coffee table in case she might bump her head. I'm such a great mother, her head didn't get knocked around for a whole day.
Now with the arrival of my son, I'm expected to hand him to a doctor, who then takes him to a back room for a little genital mutilation? Apparently, this isn't even supposed to raise an eyebrow, since circumcision is considered a routine procedure for most male infants.
Therein lies the conflict. If I don't circumcise my little guy, I'm protecting him from physical pain, but according to friends, family and pop culture, I'm opening him up to a world of emotional pain when he steps into his high school locker room.
In popular shows like "Seinfeld" and "Sex and the City," an uncircumcised penis is mocked, setting a private-part precedent that even I, despite not knowing what one looked like, knew was weird and "gross."
After researching the topic, educating myself on this surgery, I now know circumcision is not only declining in popularity, but serves little purpose. It seems now circumcision is done "just because."
Those in favor of the procedure tell me it's more hygienic and reduces the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually warns against routine male circumcision, saying the procedure has both benefits and risks, although data has yet to fully back the claim the circumcision is best for the infant. The AAP goes on to say that, while it may not be best for a neonate, it does help prevent numerous ailments for elderly men.
My husband, whom you could call a scientist, discounts all of this logical reasoning simply because he attended gym class. He's not so concerned with the actual health benefits or risk, but in keeping our son from turning into a teenage pariah.
I guess because I wasn't in a boys' locker room, I don't understand what goes on when towels come off. The girls' locker room was never out-and-out hostile, it was more snickers and finger-pointing.
Boys are much more overt when discovering a fellow classmate has an unsightly mole or carries around an extra flap of skin. It quickly turns into a primary topic of conversation. Brian hopes to keep our son out of the limelight by following the crowd with circumcision.
It's amazing to see the type of passion stirred in him when I say our son isn't going to be circumcised, much like when I mention his hairline or his guns. Lesson learned: Never come between a man and his hair, gun or son's penis.
While it's frustrating he doesn't see my point of view on the topic, it's comforting to see him take such an interest in the well-being of our future son.
In the end, circumcision will win out because I, too, attended high school. I know it's a buffet for the mean to feast on the different. As a mother, I break a cold sweat when thinking my son and daughter have to survive it, too, so why not arm him as best I can, with the perfect penis?
Hopefully, it will keep my kid from teasing a fellow boy in the locker room when I tell him if it weren't for his dad, he would be in the same boat.