Societal Justification for
Neonatal Circumcision in America
(Rosemary’s Presentation at the First NOCIRC Symposium, Anaheim, CA. 1989.)
Marilyn Milos: Rosemary Romberg was one of the first people I contacted when I realized the horrors of what circumcision was and what had been done to my own babies – to acquire information. She has been most helpful for all of us. She has been a forerunner in the movement.
Rosemary: Most of you know me as the author of this book, Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma, as an activist opposing routine infant circumcision, and as a resource center of information known as Peaceful Beginnings. But I want to take you back 17 years to the person I was, an expectant mother for the first time, in 1972, and bring you forward with the story of what I’ve been through because in cultural perspective I am glad to be sharing this energy with another mother of three circumcised sons which is Marilyn. She and I both have come a long way and we both understand the mindset. I’m a mother of five children. I have three older sons who are circumcised. I have a daughter. And now I have a little son who has been left intact. * (A sixth child, another daughter, Melissa, was born to Rosemary in December of 1989, about 10 months after the symposium).
Seventeen years ago I was 25, college educated, but still incredibly naive about birth and babies. You begin from the beginning. Maybe I was a little more motivated than others to educate myself about everything I possibly could. So I attended La Leche League meetings. I took Lamaze classes. I read everything I could, which was a paucity compared to what is available now. I thought I had educated myself about everything I could possibly know about having a baby. But circumcision was a blank spot. The only thing I knew was that my husband was Jewish. I am not Jewish, and yet it was still — Jewish males were “always circumcised”, so if our baby was a boy, he should be circumcised. A lot of people blame women for perpetuating it. But I know for a fact that the majority of American mothers, especially back then haven’t really known what circumcision and non-circumcision is. The word “circumcision” sounds good. I can’t tell you why, but we deliberately use the term “intact” instead of “uncircumcised” to describe the penis that has not undergone this operation, because to American ears “uncircumcised” sounds dirty or negative. Conversely “circumcised” – (even if) we don’t know what it involves. We don’t know what’s taken off. We don’t know how it’s done. But it sounds good, and I don’t know why. The Bible? I don’t know.
When I was in the hospital in labor I remember them handing me a (circumcision permit) form to sign, and all I can remember thinking was “Isn’t that strange that they are giving me this now when we don’t know if the baby is a boy or a girl.” I signed it. I look back. It was the first decision I made for my child. I signed away his foreskin. I also did not understand the difference between this – having it done the next day in the hospital, and the Jewish ritual. I didn’t know whether or not most parents had it done if they were not Jewish. I didn’t know whether or not there were any medical arguments for it. But I did know my husband was Jewish, and I think maybe I thought it was the Jewish ritual. I thought maybe they knew Steve was Jewish, and that was why they were handing me the circumcision consent form.
The baby was born later that night. We did have a son whom we named Eric. I did not think about circumcision again until we went home two days later. I did not have rooming in. The baby was brought to me on a four hour feeding schedule. There was a lot of unnecessary separation between me and the baby which is another story. Two days later I remember the nurse dressing him with the clothes that we had brought to the hospital. Then she pointed out his circumcision. I remember his penis was a little bit red and sore at the end. I was given a little tube of Vaseline and instructed in how to care for it. One thing I’d add is that we expect medical procedures to be painful. We accept this. Whether or not this was painful for the baby, — I think maybe I’d heard that it wasn’t painful, or maybe I’d heard that it was a little bit painful, or maybe I’d heard some people tell me, “Oh, it really was painful and upsetting.” But in a medical context I think we just accept that medical procedures are painful. I had had an episiotomy. I was walking around feeling like 150 pounds of ground, raw hamburger. It’s not vengeance against the baby, but everything is sore and in pain.
After we got home, I did find that the baby screamed every time his diaper was changed. The rest of the time he was fine and he nursed and slept well. I thought, “Well, maybe all babies do this. I wonder why he doesn’t like his diaper to be changed. He doesn’t like to be messed with.” Looking back on it, it was not as much a pain cry as it it was a mad cry. It was “Waah, waah, waah!!” A very harsh, angry cry. And this persisted with every diaper change for about the first three weeks of his life, longer of course than it took the circumcision wound itself to heal up. But I went on with it. I did successfully breastfeed. I formed a happy relationship with my child. I never thought about it (the circumcision) again. Maybe ignorance was bliss from my perspective back then. Here we are looking at circumcision as an isolated event. But for an expectant mother, an expectant couple, or a couple with their first baby, it’s just one of so many things you’re faced with: “Disposable diapers – cloth diapers? Buy your baby food – make your own baby food? Breastfeed – bottle feed? Go back to work – stay home? AAAGH!!!” There is so much that you need to learn, especially the first time. There are so many things to attend to and think about. Circumcision is just one of a whole bunch of things to think about with our babies.
Two and a half years later, by this time I had become a Lamaze instructor. I lived down here in the Southern California area at that time. (I had moved from Orange County to Ventura County in California.) I knew a lot more about birth and babies from teaching Lamaze classes. I had our second son in 1974. I had a much better hospital birth experience. I had rooming in. I had the immediate contact with the baby that I had missed out on the first time. Our son’s name was Jason. The following morning after the baby was born the doctor came in to circumcise the baby. I had total rooming in. It was an interesting situation because it was a new hospital and Jason and I were the only patients there. I was in the room by myself. It was as if my bed was here and the baby was taken over to the other end of this room – that was how far away it was. It was right across the hall, within earshot. So I was feeling very apprehensive thinking “Oh, no, I’m going to hear a lot of screaming and I’ll know that’s my baby because my baby’s the only one here.” It had never occurred to me not to have it done. At that time it was something everybody did and nobody talked about. It was just an automatic part of having a baby boy. Maybe we confuse it with the umbilical stump or something. I don’t know.
About 15 minutes later the doctor brought the baby back to me. Although I had been expecting to hear a lot of crying I didn’t hear much noise. The baby had spit up a little bit when it was over, but my babies spit up all the time anyway, so I didn’t think much about it. And we went on talking about breastfeeding and other things. I forgot about it. He healed up normally in a few days. In the absence of crying — In the videos we’ve been seeing the babies scream a lot. This is usually what happens (during infant circumcision). But sometimes a circumcision is done and the baby doesn’t cry. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve watched it done and sometimes the baby doesn’t make a peep.” Now, looking back on it — last summer my son who is now 14 slammed his finger in a car door. I did some observation of his reaction. I was watching how he reacted to this. Instead of yelling and screaming he was “uhhhh”, and going on and on like that for several minutes from the pain. I think we’re seeing something that has been typical of Jason’s personality. When he’s really hurt or sore or angry he is a person that pulls into himself and doesn’t cry out. And backtracking, my first son who was apparently mad about his circumcision, this was very consistent with his personality, the way that he gets mad about things. But anyway, (with Jason’s circumcision) I forgot about it and didn’t think much about it from then on. To me that was just what penises were supposed to look like. I will say that looking back, again almost nobody talked about it. Once in a while maybe you’d see a mother change her baby’s diaper and you’d notice that the baby’s penis was long and straight and coming to a point at the end, and this looked distinctly different from the way my babies looked. And I knew enough that I could figure out that that meant the baby wasn’t circumcised, but no value judgment really registered. But there was something, I can’t put it into words, it’s not something thought out or defined or anything, but I’d look at a circumcised penis and it was “that looks right”. And I’d look at a penis with the foreskin intact and it was “that looks funny.” I can’t explain it. It’s cultural, but I know the feeling. It’s just a feeling, not even thought out or anything.
Two and a half years later we had another baby. In the interim time I started undergoing a lot of changes in terms of what I wanted for my next baby’s birth. I got turned on to Dr. Leboyer’s book Birth Without Violence which was brand new back then. I got turned on into the home birth movement. And I decided, even though I’d had one fairly bad hospital birth and one – about the best hospital birth you could have at that time, I wanted this baby’s birth to be even a step beyond that. I wanted the immediate skin to skin contact with the baby. I’d held Jason on the delivery table but he’d had to be all bundled up in blankets. I’d wanted it to be totally unhampered – all the good things that we were just beginning to believe in about home birth. At that time having a baby at home was the only way I could have had that type of birth. It was the only way I could have not been hauled into the delivery room and put on a delivery table. It was the only way I could have had my other children involved. It was the only way we could have had immediate skin to skin contact with the baby. At the time it was a radical departure from what was available in typical hospitals. It took a lot of courage. Now there are birth centers and home births going on everywhere, but it was a very underground thing to be doing. It took a lot of courage on our parts to be making these choices and plans. We didn’t tell very many people about it. It was kind of scary in an exciting type of way.
In 1977, almost 12 years ago, our third son, Ryan, came into the world. Even I was unprepared for how dramatically different this type of birth would be compared to my first two hospital births. We had the lights dim in our birth room. We made a point of speaking softly. The older two children were watching. The baby just kind of coughed and sputtered and started to breathe without all the typical screaming we had expected in a typical birth scene. It was a very beautiful, peaceful home birth. We had a lay midwife in attendance.
Circumcision, one of the things – the main excuse that I can give is that I’d had it in my head that I was going to have a girl. We had tried a method prior to conception to try to conceive a daughter. So during my pregnancy every time the subject of circumcision would come up I’d space out on it and say, “Well, this baby’s going to be our girl and that won’t apply to me.” Then all of a sudden we had this beautiful little boy and, kind of, – the decision had been made. One day during my pregnancy I did bring up the idea to my husband that maybe it would be nice not to have a baby boy circumcised if we did have a boy. And he immediately said “Oh, no, they can get terrible infections.” He’s more inclined toward “Let’s go along with the medical things.” Home birth and the things I question have been more something that I’m leading the way on. I had always figured our sons were circumcised because Steve was Jewish, but we had never talked about it. He said, “Oh, being Jewish wasn’t important to me.” (in terms of circumcision.) It wasn’t a religious thing with him. It was like getting their immunization shots. “…They can get terrible infections if they are not circumcised.” So I backed down. I thought, “Well, I’m not Jewish. I’m neither male nor Jewish. I have this gut feeling as a mother that this would be another neat, natural thing to do and I don’t want to put my baby through this, but being neither male nor Jewish, maybe it was not my place to question circumcision.” And then on another level, I decided that a third little boy wouldn’t like being different from his brothers or his father. At that point during pregnancy all of that made sense.
After the baby was born it seemed like we had a beautiful first seven days and then all of a sudden I found myself driving to this doctor’s office a week later. My husband had made the appointment. I met him there. It was for the baby’s circumcision. Maybe, I remembered Jason’s circumcision with the baby not even crying, so I did not expect it to be that traumatic. But I remember sitting in the doctor’s office holding my sleeping, peaceful, beautiful newborn baby that had never been separated from me for the whole first week of his life. He had not been through any (typical hospital) traumatic procedures. My stomach just felt like a lump of lead as I was thinking, “I just don’t want to do this. This is wrong!” The next thing I knew we were relinquishing our baby to the doctor and then we were being shoved out of the building. I’d assumed we’d stay there. I want to stay with my children for the medical things that they have to go through, but we were being shoved out of the building and were kind of stunned and helpless and making silly jokes and talking small talk, until I could stand it no longer and about 10-15 minutes later I went back into the building and it was just, – the whole doctor’s office was just filled with our baby’s screams. We walked into the room and our baby was lying there. There was blood on the diaper, – (he was) screaming. The end of his penis was raw and bloody. With my first two sons it had seemed as if they had been born that way, with all the awareness I gave it. But this baby had not been born that way. I felt that we had something very beautiful and special and very rare in a home born baby, and we ruined it. That was destroyed.
Probably if you had come over the next day and asked me how it had gone, I would have said, “Oh yes, fine, the baby is fine.” (In the doctor’s office after the circumcision) I attempted to nurse the baby, and soon, mercifully he fell asleep, which now we know that a very deep, abnormal type of sleep is a common response to the stress of circumcision. I brought the baby home. Upon picking him up and bringing him into house, he was wailing again. But I was able to put him down and he slept for two or three hours. He screamed again upon waking up, but then after he got up and after I nursed him, from then on he did not seem to be in any more stress. By that night he seemed to be back to normal. And again, had you asked me then or the next day I probably would have said everything was fine. But it was weeks later, these kind of things come crashing back and I was starting to have nightmares about it. I felt like something very beautiful had been shattered. I was going a little bit crazy. The baby was 3 and 4 months old and I was imagining that he was still in pain from it. I was not dealing with this well as a mother.
One of the things I did to heal from it was taking baths with my baby. It had never occurred to me to do that with my first two babies. But I would take Ryan into the bathtub and I would nurse him while taking a bath and I was able to re-create a lot of that really good birthing energy that we’d had at the beginning that I felt like had been damaged and destroyed. That’s how I did a lot of healing with it. I did a lot of soul searching about “Why on earth are we doing this?” “Why, even in my position as a Lamaze instructor, (when) I thought I knew more than 99% of all other parents, did I know virtually nothing about circumcision?” “Why had I been so highly,unusually motivated to have this out of the hospital, at home birth, making everything non-traumatic for the baby? It was so important to me to not put any drops in the baby’s eyes. It was so important to me that the lights be dim and that we speak softly. And then I turn around and do this. It made no sense.
Finally, after five months of this I woke up and said “I’m going to write a book!” It was the afternoon and I was walking around saying “I’m going to write a book!” “I’m going to write a book!”
And it began from there. I didn’t know where to begin. A trip to the library revealed almost nothing. I couldn’t find any information in the library. I went through all the childbirth books that I owned as a Lamaze instructor and at most I could find a sentence or two in some of them. There was just nothing. So I started calling some of my friends. I started doing interviews. Two of those individuals are here at this conference. One is Dr. Fleiss and one is Dr. Marchbanks. They are the only people here whom I had met in person before. Both of their interviews appear in my book Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma. And I took it from there.
Believe it or not, I still was not anti-circumcision. I guess I was neutral. As a Lamaze instructor, I don’t like being an advocate. I don’t like being a person who is in a position of having to stand up and say that things have to be this one way and not the other. I like pointing people to different choices. So this is not a comfortable position for me. And I thought with my book that I would direct people to either choice. If people wanted to leave their babies not circumcised, that was fine, that was an okay choice. But if people wanted to … even though we became very angry yesterday at Dr. Stang’s talk, some people became very disturbed (at his presentation and film about use of local anesthesia for infant circumcision) I empathize with where he’s coming from. Because I was also looking for ways to make circumcision less painful and less traumatic for parents who feel that they have to have it done. I still felt that should I ever have another son, well in our family we have to (have our sons circumcised). I don’t quite know, but I just felt like we have to, our sons have to be circumcised because my husband is Jewish. Our older boys are already. It wouldn’t be right for us not to.
My book is very anti-circumcision, as are most of my writings, but I did not start out with a pre-set anti-circumcision bias and then take my findings and make them conform to a pre-set notion.
Instead, with a lot of internal pain on my part, it has been the material that I’ve uncovered that has educated me. It was not until I was a good 7 or 8 months into my research that I was fully convinced that this was wrong and that there was no way that I could ever do this to another son.
The years that followed found me moving up to Washington State in 1978 and then giving birth to a daughter, Lisa, in 1981. By that time had we had another son, our boy would not have been circumcised. Then I had two very tragic, mid-trimester miscarriages in 1983 and 1984. But finally in 1985, seven and a half years after my initial inspiration to write my book, and countless hours of slaving over a hot typewriter, there was a day that there were hundreds of books in my garage for all sorts of pre-orders that I was ready to send out. I was filling envelopes with my books and I was carting them down to the post office. Some people had been waiting a couple of years for my book to come out. There had been an unbelievable amount of delays. I was also in very early pregnancy again.
Later during my pregnancy I had to have an ultrasound for medical reasons. The ultrasound confirmed that the baby that I was carrying was a boy. I’ve got to admit, even in my position – I’d spent seven and a half years writing this book, I was everybody’s resource person on circumcision, and well known throughout the world by this time as an opponent to routine circumcision, and yet there was this gut feeling inside of me of “uh-oh!” Like “This is it!” Theory was one thing. I’ve written a book. I’ve got all these papers and everything. But now I was going to have another little boy. Obviously I’d be the hypocrite of the century if I had my son circumcised after what I’ve been through, and no way could I ever put another baby through that. But there was still an unexplainable, maybe a little bit of panic that I’m going to be faced with – I will have an intact child, a child that is different from all the males on both my husband’s and my side of the family.
Kevin was born in October of 1985, eight and a half years after my third son Ryan’s birth. He looked exactly like Ryan had, a sweet little blond-haired baby. His birth and just the reality of him was tremendously healing in more ways than one. I had thought I would never be able to carry another baby to term. I had experienced severe grief from those other two babies that I had lost, as well as the grief I’ve experienced over the loss of the completeness of my other three sons, especially the very traumatic circumcision of my third son. So eight and a half years after Ryan’s birth it’s like I had another baby again exactly like him. It doesn’t make my other sons whole and complete any more than it makes my lost babies alive again, but Kevin was tremendously healing for me. When a woman has a miscarriage there’s something magical about going past the point in the next pregnancy of where she lost the other one(s) and after that it’s like okay, everything’s going to be okay. Likewise after Kevin’s birth, it was very healing for me to have the eighth day of his life go by with nothing happening and the baby was still peaceful, and then he was nine days old, and nothing damaging had happened to him. That was a healing, turning point for me.
As a mother of an intact son, it was a little weird before because I was getting calls from all over the country from other mothers of intact sons wanting to know about this or that, and it was a little bit like a bottle feeding mother who had after the fact read a few books on breastfeeding and decided it was a good idea and she wished she had breastfed her kids, should become a La Leche League leader and start counseling other nursing mothers. With an intact son, now I felt qualified to be on the same level with these mothers that were approaching me, something that no amount of book learning and research and writing could ever impart. Even I, in my position, have been amazed at how simple the whole thing is. A lot of things that we choose and do really take a lot of commitment and action. With nursing your baby, as beautiful as it can be, the first weeks can be difficult. Natural childbirth can be wonderful, but sometimes things can go wrong and it’s not possible. Some things are very difficult and complicated and take a lot of commitment. But I think one of the reasons there aren’t more activists in this than there are is that leaving your son intact is so simple. It’s like leaving his toes on or not cutting off his ears. It’s so simple, there’s nothing to it.
I did check out my baby’s foreskin a little bit, more out of curiosity. I had spent seven and a half years writing a book on this. (laughter.) I quickly figured out – I never did retract it for cleaning because I found that there was nothing there to clean. Tending to between your baby’s toes or behind their ears and lots of other crevices and orifices of our babies do take a lot of attention, but I never saw anything there to clean. And I have found that by the time they are one and a half to two years old, an intact little boy will fight you tooth and nail if you try to retract his foreskin. That further reinforces the importance of leaving it alone. My older sons did have some trouble with meatal ulceration – the urine from the baby’s diaper causing urine burns on the glans of the penis which is not protected by foreskin. And this was a hassle to deal with. I was not informed enough at that time to realize that the foreskin should have been there to protect it. That was much more of a hassle.
The only minor disadvantage is now that he is three and a half and he stands up and goes potty it does make a little more of a point (and sprays around a little more), and little boys don’t pay attention, so I do have to clean the toilet a little bit more. So there’s one disadvantage. (laughter.)
I lived in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State) for ten years, and now I’ve recently moved up to Alaska. We have beautiful mountains in both places. People do a lot of camping and backpacking. One of the things that campers, backpackers, and hikers have to be aware of is bears. And every hiker and camper knows that the absolutely most dangerous position you can be in with a bear is if you happen to get between a mother bear and her cub. And if she gets the idea that you’re going to hurt or damage her cub in any way, you’ve had it! Maternal protective instincts have got to be the strongest, most powerful instinct in all of nature in the higher animals and humans. We are obviously programmed this way for the survival of the species. Mother animals know to protect their babies. As I pointed out in a recent newsletter, the term “bitch” means a female dog. It’s used as slang for a woman who is particularly mean or crabby. But it comes from the fact that a mother dog with new puppies is likely to bite you or tear your leg off if you threaten her puppies. So where are we as mothers that we have allowed these things to usurp this basic, interior “This is my baby and nobody is going to hurt or damage my baby.” As mothers we need to get in touch with that. That has been taken away from us by cultural expectations, by medical practices, by a lot of things. On this basic level we need to be brought back into touch with that.
Marilyn: Rosemary is one of the early pioneers to thank.
Rosemary: I think when I started out I was in correspondence with maybe about a dozen people, and now my personal mailing list is several thousand. And many times I have felt like I cannot do this all myself. Somebody else has got to carry on the torch in this.
Marilyn: Thanks Rosemary! (Laughter)
Rosemary: So Marilyn has taken over where I can’t.
(Question from audience about my older sons and how they feel.)
Rosemary: They’re fine. Of course Kevin is too little to ask questions yet. Now my kids. If you get my booklets and things, I pay my kids a penny a piece to staple my booklets – a kid that wants to earn $20 will staple a lot of booklets. So my kids are more aware of circumcision than most other people’s kids. And I’ve explained it to them and they agree it’s a pretty awful thing to do to babies. At one point I was reading them some Bible stories about the early Christians and how they got set up. With children’s Bible stories they leave these things out. But I explained to them that part of what the dilemma they were going through was whether or not new Christians should be circumcised. And one of my boys spoke up and said “That’s stupid!” They’re aware of this. They’ve been aware of me being on TV. Whether they have any feelings of themselves being at a loss right now – if they do they haven’t expressed it to me. Maybe they will in the future. We get focused in on one thing. As important as this is, life is a composite of a whole lot of different things. They seem to be pretty happy, together people. It’s in a way too bad that my work has had to be focused on the one thing that I feel that I’ve done wrong because I believe I’ve done a lot of things right as a mother.
Marilyn: One of the things with doing a documentary with Dr. Edell five or six years ago I found two boys who were twins and one was circumcised and the other not, and it was interesting to hear an eleven year old boy say, they were twins. One of them said, “You would expect us to be alike because we’re twins, but we’re not.” one was taller, he said “I have more meat in my bones.” That happened to be the circumcised boy. I thought, well that was his way of compensating, he had more meat on his bones. But then we videotaped them again, by this time they were 15, and it just did not matter if one did and one didn’t. They weren’t the same in many, many ways and it didn’t matter.
One of the things I’m no longer hearing now from parents of children — we used to always hear stories of “I don’t want my son to be different in the locker room.” What I’m hearing now are the stories of the little boy saying “Why’d you let them cut off part of my body?” That seems to be a much harder question to answer.
Rosemary: My husband will be coming by soon. He will be bringing Kevin along, so everyone can meet Kevin.
(Update: It is now 2001, 11½ years after this speech was given, that I am preparing this for my website. There have been a few interesting occurrences over the years that are worth noting.
From age 4 on Kevin has needed to wear glasses. This has been a far more obvious situation of “looking different” from the other members of his immediate family than his intact state, or his brothers’ and father’s lack of same. Nobody worries about either state, however, nor am I fitting any of my other children with glasses to make them all “match.” (By now, however, his aging parents do use reading glasses!)
At age 7, I finally sat down with Kevin and thoroughly explained to him the facts about circumcision and why his penis looks different from his brothers’ and Daddy’s, and probably some of his friends. As committed as I have been to putting an end to infant circumcision, I made a personal vow to myself when Kevin was born that should my son ever wish to be circumcised, and had reached an age that he could fully understand all of the facts about the operation, I would personally arrange and pay for him to have it done.
I explained the facts to him as calmly and gently as possible – that all baby boys were born with penises that look like his, but that some boys, usually when they are babies, have that skin in front cut off by the doctor. That is called circumcision, and that is what was done to his brothers and his Daddy when they were first born. etc., etc., ….. and that now I knew that this was very painful for a baby and decided not to have it done to him when he was born, but now if he felt that he would rather have his penis be the same as his brothers and his Daddy, we could take him to a doctor and have it done to him too. …. etc., etc.
I then looked at Kevin and was astonished to find that his hands were instinctively cupped over his genitals, and his eyes looked as big as saucers! He had a very scared, angry expression on his face as he declared loudly, in no uncertain terms: “NO!!! No way!!! That is NEVER going to happen to me!!!!”
Today as a teenager, he is facing the usual teenaged turmoil. He occasionally encounters teasing – about his glasses, our last name, and that (like his mom) he’s not very athletic. I recently had a very confidential talk with him, wanting to know if he was still okay with his “natural” state, or if any of the other kids said anything about it. His response at first was: “What on earth are you talking about?!!” When I clarified that I was referring to the fact that he was not circumcised, he answered: “Why on earth would anybody care what my genitals look like?!!” The overall tone was one of ‘Mom, this has got to be the stupidest conversation I could possibly imagine!’ So I’ve reminded him about the book that I wrote and my activism, and that he would have to bear in mind that because of my work in this field, I was more concerned and focused on this issue than most other people would be.
The matter is a total “non-issue” for him. I have also tried to ask him about his male friends, whether anyone else is intact like him, etc., and although they’ve continually been out on camping trips, sleepovers, and gym classes, Kevin honestly did not know. He simply could not care less what anyone else’s penis looks like. (Girls’ anatomy, however, seems to be an extremely interesting subject!)
From here on, it’s all his life and his body. I’m sure he’ll do fine. Interestingly, Kevin does share my penchant for writing, and has already written and hoping to publish his first novel (at age 15!) I’ve proofread much of his work and shared many of my own experiences with him. I’ve tried to persuade him to read my book as well, but at this age he does not wish to. He says the subject of circumcision in general is simply too upsetting for him. Maybe he’ll read it some day when he’s older and can be thankful that he was the “lucky” one.
(Update: 2012) Now Kevin is an adult and is the only one of my children who has asked me for a copy of my book.