I remember the exact moment when I asked my mom to tell me the names for our private parts. It was the late 1970′s and my mom and I were sitting in a small inflatable pool in the backyard of our suburban Ohio home. I don’t remember what prompted me to ask her exactly, but I must have been about three years old at the time. Until then, we had used some made-up word or baby babble to describe our anatomy.
I also remember laughing uncontrollably when she told me what the correct words were… PEE-NIS and VA-JI-NA ???? What kind of funny words were those, I thought! My mother then proceeded to explain that the words were not meant to be funny. Those were the proper medical terms. I decided to continue to use the made-up names because I liked them better.
For the record, I think kids should use the real medical terms and not babble in the event (God forbid) a child needs to tell an adult that something has inappropriately happened to them. I don’t condone confusing words like “flower” when you really mean “vagina.” It is what it is, after all.
Now, I am a mother to a three and four and a half-year old. Last night, it was my turn to be put in the hot seat.
My son — who like most men happens to be fascinated with his own parts — asked me, “Mommy, what is this?”
“That’s your penis,” I said matter of factly.
“No.” (I repeated the word enunciating better that time.)
My daughter piped in, “What’s a girl’s penis called?”
“Girls don’t have penis’. They have vaginas,” I corrected her.
Excited she had something different, she shouted in my son’s direction, “Yea, mommy and me have Chinas!”
I can only hope all our talks go this well. The teen years should be fun.