Monday, September 8, 2008

Pieces and Parts

As Scott and I watch our kids playing together in the bathtub, we find ourselves maneuvering through conversations that we never imagined ourselves having. Like ever. Or at least until they came to us and asked about the birds and the bees. Like when they're twenty or something, right? Conversations about parts and differences and functions.

I think that because we have one of each gender, and they bathe together and see each other naked on a regular basis, we are probably dealing with the parts issue more than parents of two of the same, or with just one child. I didn't think I would have to talk about S-E-X so early on. (Not that we are really discussing it, but, you know, laying the foundation for how we as a family will discuss it when it becomes appropriate. Like when they're twenty.) Dylan notices that Sadie is missing something that he has. And since Sadie doesn't have one, she is very curious and likes to grab it when she has a chance, like she would grab at my nose, or my tongue if I stuck it out at her. The curiosity is as natural and innocent as wondering why her eyes are blue or why his feet are bigger.

And since Sadie is learning about 27,000 new words a day, she wants everything labeled for her, so she can repeat and learn and say it on her own next time. So while Dylan is flaunting his parts and wondering where Sadie's are, Sadie looks down to not find them there, then points and wants to know what her pieces are called. Well, I have to answer her, right? Like I would if she pointed to her knee or her ear. Because it is natural curiosity which I don't want to thwart. So I should really teach her (them) the correct terminology. But I can't. I don't know why. I don't consider myself to be prude or anything. But I have a really hard time saying that girl part word.

The first time Dylan discovered his masculinity during a diaper change, I had no problem announcing to him that yes, that's his penis. He's never called it a pee-pee or a wee-wee or anything else. It's always been penis. I can say it without without skipping a beat. See? Penis. Penis. Penis. As a result, Dylan is quite confident discussing his penis no matter who's around or where we are. At an extended family gathering, "What is up with my penis? I need to itch it." In a crowded public restroom as he waits in the stall with me, "Mommy, why don't you have a penis?" Or in a public restroom with Scott, "Daddy, your penis is big and mine is just little." We take these conversations in stride, even if we are a little embarrassed by them because it is important for him to not feel ashamed of any of his parts. In time we know that the social filter will develop and he won't just yell, "Penis!" inappropriately across the playground in sixth grade. (Well, maybe he will, but not because he doesn't know any better by then!)

So why, oh why, do I seem to be falling into such a double standard with my daughter? Because believe you me, I want her to have just as much confidence and unashamedness as her brother, if not more so. Because girls just seem to end up with way more issues about that stuff. And so that it isn't taboo to talk about when it becomes really important for her to trust me to talk about it. And so that I don't get all giggly and goofy when I have to say, you know, the word. Because how I talk to her now is the basis for how we will have all future conversations about this most important subject. And the closest I can come is VahJayJay. Which will get me by for maybe one more week because she can't really pronounce it yet but you know she's making so much progress with those 27,000 new words a day I'll bet she'll have it by then. In a week she will be asking me, "Mommy why does Dylan have a penis, but I just have a vahjayjay? Come on. What is it really called?"

I can't fool them now, and I definitely don't want them to feel fooled when it really matters. Because misinformation, or incomplete information will lead them to make uninformed choices, when it really matters. So I better just get over it. Here goes. Vagina. There, I said it. All pieces and parts officially named, head to toe, front to back, boy and girl. I am duly equipping my children with the information they will need, when it really matters. Now someone please just tell me that "when it really matters" isn't until they're at least twenty?!!


Anonymous said...

I am laughing out loud at this one, only because I'VE BEEN THERE! My kids bathe together as well, and I couldn't utter "The V Word" either until I got very desperate. So out it came, and all that got returned to me was the second syllable of the word. So that's what we've been calling it! ;) Jiiiinah. LOL!!

becky w. said...

I guess the joke is on me because Sadie has all this time been calling her female anatomy, "je-je." When I finally got over myself to tell her the real name she says, plain as day, "vagina." It is now her favorite word and she is constantly pointing to her crotch and saying, "vagina." Ha-ha me!

marin said...

Sorry, not 20. Try...3? Heh, good luck with that.

My niece called her privates her "China" forever. Now 6, she informs me last week, "Auntie, did you know it is pronounced
VA - china, not china? China is a country."

They grow up so fast!