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Eek! My 5-year-old Saw a Penis!

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Guest Blogger Jana Mathews: Everyone talks about how important it is to teach your children to read, but the dark underbelly of preschool phonics is rarely, if ever discussed. I learned the hard way that a child that can read Green Eggs and Ham also has the ability to sound out the four-letter words that are scrawled on the backs of train and bus seats with a black Sharpie.

girl at science mueum

Last Saturday, my family escaped from the profane literary world of Philadelphia's public transportation system to the safety of the city's anatomy museum, a place where all of the exhibits' placards are written either in vocabularies too advanced for my three 5-year-olds, or in a language (Latin) completely foreign to them.

As it turns out, my efforts to prevent insurgent readership were unnecessary: my kids were far too busy examining the museum's treasures -- including jars of fetuses with congenital abnormalities and wax molds of half-corroded faces, butts, and armpits caused by syphilis -- to be bothered with the written material posted underneath or next to the displays.

While a vast collection of human skulls served as the museum's focal point, the real prize was a roomful of body parts floating in jars of formaldehyde. I was showing my sons a collection of noses when my daughter pointed to a jar containing a shriveled pickle.

"What's that?" she asked.

I read the placard and answered, "A severed finger."

I turned back to the nostrils, but not before my daughter screamed "Liar!" in my face.

"That's not a finger," she said authoritatively, gesturing to a 5x7 sign. "It's a penis. P-E-N-I-S."

Needless to say, all interest in facial cartilage instantly evaporated.

Jana Mathews is the mother of three preschoolers and author of The Meanest Mom blog.


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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Momninja September 17, 2008, 11:33 AM

Yuck and double yuck!
The penis would be way less of any issue for me then my kids seeing ANY jarred body parts.

Not sure I’d want 5 yr olds seeing skulls either.

CB November 5, 2009, 2:48 AM

Really? Is this REALLY that big of an issue for you? Half the damn world has one. Grow up.

www.momlogic.com May 9, 2011, 7:40 AM

The_hidden_danger_of_teaching.. Neat :)

www.momlogic.com June 3, 2011, 12:38 AM

The_hidden_danger_of_teaching.. Keen :)

www.momlogic.com June 5, 2011, 12:56 AM

The_hidden_danger_of_teaching.. Corking :)


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