Written by Jess Macdonald


Where the wild things are

Jess Macdonald’s little boy is becoming a man. Ew.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

You tend to remember The Firsts with your children. First smile, first word, first steps, first day of school. There are, however, Other Firsts that won’t go in the family album. First time you get poo on your hand, first time you shout at them, first time they ‘innocently’ repeat a swear word. In the first few years of parenthood, The Firsts come thick and fast, as each new milestone is reached. After that, they become more spread out. First day at junior school, high school, first girl/boyfriend, first party.

We had a long holiday this summer, me, my other half, our two children (The Boy, aged 10, The Girl, aged seven). The Boy is a little… odd. He’s quiet, sensitive, self-conscious in public. Around his family, however, he tends to let it all hang out… Literally.

Chivvying him along one morning, my partner and I were sitting on the terrace, performing the daily chant of, “Come on, get your swimming gear on, put anything you want to take to the beach in the bag, come on, we haven’t got all day [a blatant lie, we were on holiday], what are you looking for now, come onnnn…” The Boy, solid, tall, blond, wandered out, absentmindedly scratching his stomach, completely naked, in search of his shorts.

And we saw. A mute, sideways meeting of eyes between his parents, our faces expressing the same thought, the same reaction, which was essentially, “I don’t know what to do with this information.” The Boy ambled back inside, shorts dragging behind him on the floor. We turned to face one another fully, and in perfect unison, his father and I mouthed: “He’s got… pubes.”

“I knew he would one day grow… older and become, ahem, ‘more of a man’ but I never really acknowledged what that might mean.”

I hissed to my other half, “Don’t say anything to The Boy about it!” He nodded, understandingly, then a few days later, a bit overbeered and in a teasing mood, “Yeah, The Boy, but you would say that, because you’ve got pubes!”


I gave Other Half a thunderous look, so he hastily tried to make amends: “Don’t worry, The Boy! Mummy was really hairy from an early age too.”

Other Half: “What? You were! You told me you had pubes when you were eight years old!”

The Boy: “I’m not worried. It’s perfectly natural. Although they are darker than the rest of my hair.”

Other Half: “That’s normal too. My pubes are darker. So are Mummy’s.”

Me: “We are NOT talking about pubes.”

The Boy: “They tickle my scrotum a bit.”

This is not something I should know. I mean, I knew he would one day grow… older and become, ahem, ‘more of a man’ but I never really acknowledged what that might mean. Obviously it’s hormones and mood swings and he’ll get spots and stop washing and he’ll overdo the Lynx and all of that. But pubes is not something I feel comfortable knowing, much less thinking about and as for writing about… If you could see my face right now, you’d be offering me indigestion tablets at the very least.

It’s just not something you expect to see. Pubes. On your 10-year-old. On your Precious Firstborn. Pubes. Pubic hair. Pubes. My son has pubes.

Everything else seems transitory. The Lynx Effect will die down. The spots will die under a wave of Clearasil. Showers will cease to be water torture and the teenage tantrums will fade. But pubes are an inescapable reminder that he’s growing up, he’s growing away, he’s maturing. His voice will break, he’ll soon be taller than me, he’s no longer the little person for whom I was the centre of his world. He’ll always be my boy.

But now he’s got pubes. Ew.


  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Jess Macdonald

Jess Macdonald is a quite sweary blogger and mother of two with Scottish hair. http://putupwithrain.blogspot.co.uk