The 8 year old often reads to herself before bed, a devourer of chapter books, but every so often she still likes to snuggle up and be read to. Last night she called me into her room and told me I was going to read to her. I got into her bed and we snuggled on down to a picture book, Hairy in Funny Places by Babette Cole.
I should have realised that this was no ordinary book, but the picture on the front was jolly and Babette Cole is renowned for her witty children’s books. It slowly dawned on me that the book I was reading was all about body changes … and told in such a fashion that I was totally taken by surprise as I read “Mrs Hormone’s mixtures began to work and your mum sprouted small bosoms and hair in funny places …” Cue much sniggering about Mummy having small bosoms (NOT ANY MORE) and hair sprouting all over the place.
I realised that the book had come from ‘the high shelf’ which houses books that aren’t quite suitable yet and had been given by my sister when she was clearing out her children, now teenagers, old books.
At this point I stopped and asked how many times she’d read it. “Oh about eight times, it’s my new favourite book” she happily told me. “I know what a penis is now!” she added proudly.
To be honest I wondered how she had gotten to eight and a half without knowing what a penis is. Having a 7 year old in the house endlessly talking about bums, willies and who was particularly delighted last week when he mastered the difficult, but effective, armpit fart I was shocked. But then I realised that he also calls testicles ‘bumnuts’ …
I couldn’t stop reading and bring attention to the fact that I was trying to work out howw bad the book could get and how I was going to answer any awkward questions so we continued and got to ‘Dad’s hormones’. According to Babette “When the hormones got to work on him he was only about eight and looked very like a girl, except for his small penis”. Cue more sniggering, poor Daddy. It’s OK though because apparently a year or two later his shoulders broadened and his penis thickened. Phew. But I suddenly hate the word ‘thickened’.
The book glossed over periods, wet dreams and sex … thank the good lord of all things cake-like.
When we’d finished I asked the 8 year old if she had any questions, and clenched my buttocks in preparation, but it seems Babette had already covered everything that her 8 year old brain needed for now.
I felt like I’d been ambushed by the lovely Babette, but actually, a day after recovering from the ambush I’ve decided it wasn’t too bad after all. We laughed through it and it was a good ice breaker for what is to come.
If you need me I’ll be moving all the DEFINITELY UNSUITABLE books on ‘the high shelf’ onto a higher shelf.