Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Orchidometer

“Mom, do you have an orchidometer?”

“A WHAT?” I’m totally in mom-mode lounging and watching television with my tween son, Will.

“It’s in one of those books you gave me.”

“Go get it and show me what you’re talking about.”

He brings me one of his puberty books, and shows me a picture of varying sized beads on a string.

I hadn’t seen one of those since my peds endocrinology rotation fifteen years ago. It’s a gauge to measure the size of a patient’s testicles, and not part of my regular assessment in general pediatrics.

“I think I’m between a 4 and 6. Maybe about a five.” He offers me.

Great – I’m amused and relieved that he would even share this information with me. I am his go-to parent about all matters related to sexual development. My tween is in a very push-pull stage. There are days he’s my shadow, and can’t get enough of me. He strokes my back affectionately, and nuzzles up to my shoulder. I can barely relieve myself without his presence, and I’m mostly grateful that he still likes my company. I know there will be a day soon that my company will no longer be needed or desired.

I’m also horrified that he knows the information that he does. It gives me a small peak into what he is preoccupied with these days. It’s not the video games that I would like to lull myself into false expectations with. Who is he sharing this information with? Have I overeducated him? Is he overeducated in some areas and undereducated in others? (Probably)

“The book says that puberty doesn’t start until your testicles get to be about an eight or nine.”

“Good to know.” I blink hard.

“So I don’t think I’ve started yet.”

“Mmm.” is all I can think of to say.

So the acne, body odor, mood swings, and tiny peach fuzz over his top lip aren’t because of puberty. The frequent visits to my glass shower while I’m in it probably aren’t related to puberty, either. Boy, that’s a relief! For now I’ll continue to watch this surreal movie that is my life with a pre-pubertal son.


  1. This strikes panic into my heart since I know, one day, I'll be facing these same issues. Thankfully, I have a good number of years to mentally prepare myself.

  2. Wow! That's great to learn that the son has a level of trust and faith to share "those" things with you.

    Do not know when will my turn come up. LOL.

  3. I have a necklace that looks very similar to that orchidometer.

    Great post. I'm still in the diaper-changing, sippy-cup-assembling stage of parenting, and pubertal issues feel a hundred years away. Nice to get a heads up.

  4. Between 11-12 my son was always saying "Look here,I'm getting hair" and he would show me some suprapubic area that was totally bald. "See,right there" he would say as I said "hmmm, maybe". Now he is 13, his voice is low and he's as tall as me. He is so private I can't even give him a pat on the head or a hug. I loved those pre-teen moments when he was so open. We still have the door open to talk about everything but he's not doing much talking now.


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