Dad Confessions: The Stark Naked Truth About Being the Only Male in the House

dad and daughter

I've always gotten along well with my penis, but lately I'm worried that a certain level of notoriety might go to its head. For instance, the other day I climbed into our bathtub, joining our 2-year-old daughter who was busily sailing her toy boat across the calm waters. As I lowered my body in, the displaced water created a small tsunami that swamped the little wooden ship. (We only permit her to play with toys that might give her splinters.) Instead of complaining about the whitecaps, she instead pointed at my crotch, which was not quite submerged, and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!"


That’s not the sort of greeting that that part of my body is accustomed to.

Ever since then, my penis has been a hot topic in our otherwise all female household.

"Dada, you have a penis?" my 2-year-old wondered aloud during story time last night. "Is it in your bum?"

Or at least, that’s what the second thing she said sounded like -- it’s become harder to understand her lately as she’s recently weaned and taken up a pacifier. Anyway, it's not in my bum.

To be fair, in the star-power hierarchy my penis is more like Huey Lewis compared to my wife's boobs -- they're the Michael Jackson and Madonna of body parts in our daughter's mind. But since Madge and Jacko have run dry, it's possible some of that intense interest has deflected at my non-small-human-sustaining body.

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My 5-year-old daughter never sounded quite as impressed, but she started commenting on my body at around the same age. My wife and I have taken baths with our girls since they were little babies. There's a closeness to it, and that way we can make sure to wash their butts on the regular, but it's also sometimes a matter of personal practicality -- if it's time for evening bath and I haven’t showered all day due to slaving over my laptop for some cruel editorial tyrant, hopping in with the kids is a gimme.

I suppose I'm going out of my way to explain that while I don't, say, make our Saturday pancakes in the buff, I make no attempt to keep them from seeing me nude. I figure making a big deal out of nudity, my own or theirs, would only lubricate the slippery slope to body shame. Plus, there will be much better reasons to be embarrassed by me when they’re a little older -- my penis is just the tip of the iceberg.

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I think my casual approach to nudity led to a certain amount of surprise when my penis became a sort of local celebrity overnight. Over the long weekend, our friend Alicia brought her two kids to visit. The older girls were playing in the bathroom, which features one window that looks out over the back porch, where the rest of us were seated. We were all enjoying a nice lunch when Alicia's 6-year-old suddenly poked her head out of the window and, in her outside voice, requested, "Hey Uncle Andy, show us your penis."

I demurred, and we adults carried on not talking about my penis. It was kind of a relief, to be honest.


L. Andrew Nelson is the father of two girls. He lives in California with his wife, mother, female dog, and two goldfish of undetermined sex.

Image via Linda Kloosterhof

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