I never imagined having to deal with stuff like this

I don’t even quite know how to describe what I want to write about.  Yet I feel compelled to address the topic.

It’s one of those things that you don’t ever imagine being confronted with, but then you are, and you have to deal with it. 

It’s a strange one, you’re not going to believe that this is it, but it is!

Basically what happened is that James brought Andrew home from the mil’s house after Andy had his sleepover there this past weekend, and said, I kid you not, that his mother believed Andrew’s penis could be infected because the tip was a bit red, and so she was trying to pull the foreskin back to clean it but it wouldn’t go back all the way.  She kept trying by the sounds of things but it wasn’t happening.  She was recommending we take him to a doctor to make sure nothing’s wrong.

I hesitated before discussing this on my blog because I don’t really wish to post blog posts about my son’s nethers.  None of your business, right?  But it’s nothing he should ever be embarrassed about because it’s just part of life, and I can blog about it because he does NOT have anything whatsoever wrong with his bits n’ bobs, so he really truly has nothing to be afraid of!

As soon as James told me what she had said – what she had DONE – I was shocked.  The word ‘mortified’ actually comes to mind.  My immediate response, and the one I stand by, is that this is NOT something she should be taking upon herself to do.  If she thinks there is something wrong ‘down thar’ then she should tell us, but to be pulling his foreskin back in a way that sounds borderline aggressively?!  I don’t feel it’s appropriate behaviour.  Am I overreacting??  I’ve never been faced with this sort of scenario before!

I don’t force Andrew’s foreskin back for cleaning, as I didn’t think a toddler’s penis was really able to do that…or if it does do that, I figured it would be cleaned in the bath, given he’s generally in there for quite a while soaking.  I do make sure he is washed but I didn’t think it was necessary to be handling his penis in…that way. 

Not for a second am I suggesting that my mil was abusing him or anything.  I know she wasn’t doing it in a sexual way, NOT AT ALL.  But she was still handling his penis in a way that I don’t really think she should.  I think Andrew would be mortified himself to think of her or me or anyone else having handled him as such, once he’s a teenager or even a pre-teen, he would be disgusted at the mere idea!  And of COURSE I would be right up at the top of the list of who he would never want to think about having done that – again, not that it’s sexual because it isn’t in any way whatsoever, but it’s still not something you want to think about your parents having done to you!  However, my point in all of this is that at this stage in his life, I strongly feel that if anyone has to do such a thing, it should be either me or James.  We are his parents, and we have the ultimate right (and responsibility) of caring for our child. 

I think sometimes people (especially those who have raised children of their own already) get caught up in the way THEY did things, and they ‘forget’ to run things by the parents before they do things.  I wish that my mil would have just given her two cents and we could have decided what to do ourselves.

I have seen Andrew’s penis pretty well every day of his life given I change his diapers and bathe him more than anyone else does.  Don’t you think if there was something wrong with him, I’d know?!  I am actually 95% sure what the issue was that she was talking about – we had taken Andrew to the beach on the Saturday and I told her he needed a diaper change before going out again after that, because he’d gone in the water enough that his diaper was for sure wet.  I am positive she didn’t change him before taking him out again, so he was probably walking around in a soaking wet diaper for hours.  That would cause anyone’s skin to become irritated, especially with the salt water!  So my guess is that was the issue, but she decided it was some underlying problem and took matters into her own hands (NO pun intended as it’s rather disturbing actually!)

I just feel weird about the whole thing.  I don’t like it when other people decide things for us.  James and I did some research on this issue of whether or not it’s even SAFE to be pulling the foreskin back on a toddler, and we personally are taking the side that it’s not really the best idea.  We want to of course make sure he’s clean, but forcing it in that way doesn’t seem right to us.  And from what we read, could case terrible infection and even permanent scarring if you’re doing it wrong.  Why take that risk?

I will be going to see the doctor in the next few months and will definitely inquire about this, at least for his opinion on it.  But for now my personal belief is that it’s not appropriate to be reefing on my child’s penis.  I know it’s not sexual and isn’t abusive when you’re just trying to maintain cleanliness, but it just doesn’t sit well with me. 

It’s strange dealing with these things, because you just don’t think about this sort of issue before you’re faced with it.  But I know one thing for sure – I am VERY protective of my boy, and I really REALLY don’t like other people making important decisions, whether it be about his body, or what he can do, without first getting the OK from me.  I am pretty easy going as a parent, more so than I ever thought I would be, and I am OK with a lot of things.  But…maybe I’m also annoyed with my mil for other reasons.  Well, of course I am, WHAT ELSE IS NEW, lol – but…for example, Andrew came home with a bandaid on his hand and when I asked what happened, she said he burnt himself on the stove!  She was letting him ‘help’ her make oatmeal.  I let Andrew ‘help’ me in the kitchen, too, but he doesn’t get to sit right beside a hot element and put stuff into a burning pot.  He’s 2 ½!  I think sometimes she forgets about ‘age appropriateness.’

Anyway, I don’t want to minimize my initial concern with other things, though.  I really do feel weird about the first issue I mentioned, and would feel strange about it whether she did other things that frustrated me or not. 

I’m curious what other people think of this, how you would react (or have reacted) in this type of situation.  I don’t feel like I’m overreacting with the way I feel, and even if I am I can’t change it because it really is how I feel!  But I wonder how others might approach it?  Or if you know anything about the ‘foreskin issue’ and whether or not it’s a good idea to be pulling it back?!  ‘I don’t know how they walk around with those things’ comes to mind right now!  Haha.


tristadawn said…
Yike! I would feel uncomfortable with that as you do.
From what I am aware, it is NOT good to be retracting and pulling back the foreskin! The penis will self-cleanse, and I don't think the foreskin should be messed around with. For sure something to ask your doc when you go.
I totally think that she should've left it up to you, or called if she was soo worried about it. And you're right, it was probably being in a wet diaper for so long, his skin got irritated, rightfully so!
Ugh, this woman just makes me MAD! You are NOT overreacting at all. poor little Andy! I can't imagine that was comfortable for him :(
Lojo said…
Yeah, she totally should have called or spoken to you before "self investigating" if she was concerned. I Googled it, and what I read supported Trista's foreskin knowledge. This woman needs to social skill tweaking! And that's an understatement.

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