Three holes.

"How many holes do you have in your face?"

My daughter and I were cuddled up under the covers. It was morning, but school would be starting late and we could take our time. She was warm next to me. Warm, but wiggling. Constantly wiggling. Girl was born with butterflies under her skin. She had eyed my appendectomy scar, the purple starting to fade, but still fresh enough to be entertaining. We talked about scars. She has a tiny one on her cheek. So tiny no one would ever know it's there. But I know. I know exactly when it happened, and what her tiny face looked like at the time, and her cheeks - those cheeks! - those cheeks that I was brushing clean with the tip of my pinky finger when she turned abruptly and her cheek and a snag in my fingernail collided. She didn't even wince. But I did. The mark was tiny, but red. And it left a scar. We sat on the bed and counted our scars between us. 5 of any noticeable significance, and definitely not counting my stretch marks.

She closed her eyes for a second, considering my question.

"4! No wait, 6? Wait."

I waited.

"Do you count your eyes? They're filled in holes. 5 in your face, if you count your eyes, or 7 if you count your ears. But I don't think that's really a part of your face. Just your head."

Have you ever, as a parent, been waiting to have a specific conversation with your kid as they matured? Like a long intake of "when's it coming" breath, bracing yourself for having to talk about feeling ugly, or shitty grades, or bleeding out of your vagina or ... heaven help me ... why penises stand up sometimes. I'm presently holding my "when's it coming" breath for several fun topics, but not so much in a way that makes me afraid I'm going to pass out in a pool of my own parental fuckuppery, but in a "let's do this, bitches" we're-about-to-jump-out-of-a-plane-into-the-unknown-beautiful-sky kinda way.

And so I jumped.

"Do you know how many holes you have between your legs?"

"Huh?" She wrinkled her nose and looked up at me. "Wellllll there's my butt!" She's 6. It's still verrrrry fun to say butt. (It's always fun to say butt.)

"Yep. That's one. It's a good one. What's it for?"


Indeed it is. I could tell she was just a tiny bit jostled by this conversation. Normally when we snuggle in bed we talk about what's for breakfast, and I talk about how I'll cook it, then eat it, but not before the kids are almost ready for seconds, and so I'll get up and get them seconds, and then I'll sit back down and eat mine, which is now cold, and then I'll go to the kitchen and clean up everything, by myself. Except no one ever pays attention to the part after "what's for breakfast".

"So what else?" I asked.

"My vagina. That's 2 holes." 

"Yep. And that one is for ... "

"Babies!" We'd been through this. The "How did I get out of your body, Mom?" came early with this one. One time, when she was 3, she was in the bathtub and I reminded her to clean all her parts, vulva too, and she asked "What about my birth canal?" She says she wants to be a chemist when she grows up, or a fashionista, but I've got my money on midwife.

"Yes! Babies come out through the vagina. Did you know you have a third hole, too?" Her eyes widened and she did that thing where she sucks in her lower lip just a little bit so her eye teeth jut out like a bunny rabbit. I nodded my head. This was the question I was waiting for. My daughter needed to know that there's a third hole! And for some reason, it seemed really important that she learn that from me, if she hadn't already figured it out on her own. I couldn't bear the thought of any girl making it all the way to women's prison only to learn from a post-op transgendered inmate who'd designed her own lady parts that the anatomy of a pussy willow is more intricate than one might believe. 

spoiler alert: you have 3 holes, ladies. #OINTB

I held out my hand and used it as a makeshift diagram. "If this is the area between your legs, then here's the anus, (that's your butt) here's the vagina, and up here is a teeny tiny hole that lets the pee out. It's called the urethra." I held my hand closer to her face, as if by talking about it a little pee-hole would actually appear in the palm of my hand. She glanced at my pee-hole-less hand, then back up to my face.

"Oh. Okay." Then she held up her hands in front of her like paws, jutted out her two front teeth, and bounced on the bed like her spirit animal, the bunny rabbit. "Can I have a bagel?" I nodded and put my lesson plan palm away for the day.

We got out of bed. I made us both bagels. Then I tucked my mental parachute back up into the folds of my mommy brain, and readied my breath for the next jump. 


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