Monday, January 14, 2013

Name Calling


parent advisory


My friend Kate gets up in arms when people teach their children the correct anatomical names for their private parts. She fears that her daughters will be exposed to them at school or on the playground. A world full of pee-pee's and wee-wee's would suit her just fine.

I told her that her impulse to shield her children from perceived bad influences is admirable, but that it's like trying to keep them from catching a cold. Sometimes the odds are in your favor, sometimes not.

I also offered her the unsolicited advice that, when faced with this situation, she could use it as an opportunity to explain how all families are different and that we need to be respectful of other people's beliefs, while maintaing our own. 

That just made her mad. I understand. I don't like unsolicited advice either. We did restore harmony to our conversation, though. We agreed that it's really cool to watch your child learn to speak (private parts aside). 

Personally, I'm fascinated by speech and language development. Why is it that when Claire says "helicopter", it sounds like "belly hooper", but she can say the word "clementine" clear as a bell?  

But, as Claire starts connecting the things in her world with words, I am realizing that there are whole classes of words that we have to decide what to call or whether to use at all. Until recently, I hadn't begun to contemplate my role as Maoist censor in her life. I find it more complicated than choosing her name at birth.

Clearly, we have tried to whitewash curse words from our vocabulary. And we don't want her to use words like "hate" and "stupid". Much to my dismay, certain words have already entered her vocabulary. Claire seems to find the word "butt" extremely funny. I live in fear of the moment when she screams "Mama butt" in public, or something equally embarrassing. I know it's going to happen. She's also very fond of the words "booger" and "fart". My husband and I hadn't developed a sound philosophy about what to call things like these, which are a part of everyday reality and need to be named something.

We did agree that Claire should learn the words for her body parts, "vagina" included. Mainly because they do have names. I haven't gotten up the nerve to tell Kate about this decision. I'm hoping she will still let us play with her daughters. I'm counting on the fact that she will find some consolation in our other decision, which is to teach Claire the difference between words that are public and those that are private (after all that's why they're called "private parts", right?) 

Right now, though, my 19 month old will have no grasp of this concept. I'm thinking I should start plastering her with parental advisory stickers to give people a heads up that my daughter may display behavior similar to someone with Tourette Syndrome. Since that strategy is clearly impractical, we'll have to get used to the fact that we are in for a long, booger butt ride.


Connect with: FBTwitterG+Pinterest

65 comments:

  1. I don't have kids yet, so it's easy for me to give an opinion that won't impact me....here it is: For years, I've been concrete in my mindset that my kids will know the correct name for their private parts. I feel like a vagina is a vagina and a penis is a penis....I struggle to understand when those words are given too much poweer. I think America is one of most prudish and sexually free nations simulataneously, which baffles me. This may make me sound like a hippie, but I think it's really important that children are made aware of how to look at the human body as a being a natural thing and when we shudder at the idea of using proper anatomical terms then it makes it an icky thing, which subconsciously attaches shame to it. Good luck in working this out with your friend; my friends are starting to have kiddos or have young lil' ones so I'm sure this is a conversation that'll be in my not so distant future, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you. I share your opinion, but also feel that all parents have the right to decide what they want to teach their children. I also struggle because, while I DO want to respect other people's decisions and not make the uncomfortable, I have to do what I think is right for my daughter.

      Delete
  2. Love this! I taught my kids at a young age the correct words for the genitals but we also used the funny nicknames as well. I was taking parenting classes at the time and they INSISTED we use the correct names but so what--at home we still made pee pee and peenie jokes--and trust me, my kids didn't grow up mentally handicapped because if it. Of course it WAS pretty embarrassing the time my youngest daughter called me (quite loudly) a "rotten vagina" in the middle of a busy department store.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bah-ha! I hope you have never let her live that down!!

      Delete
  3. Haha ~ belly hooper and Clementine! That's awesome!

    xoxo
    Lanaya
    www.raising-reagan.com

    Don't forget to go enter the January Sponsor Highlights over @RaisingReagan
    http://raising-reagan.com/2013/01/14/january-sponsor-highlights/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lanaya. I find it so, so cute, but she's mine, so I better! :)

      Delete
  4. I wrote a post very similar to this a while back. I agree with you that children should know the proper names of their body parts. My daughter has a vagina, not a patchouli. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about it. I understand wanting to protect your children but some things are inevitable and you should spend your time preparing them, not trying to prevent it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really don't like some of those pet names. They rub me the wrong way. I agree with you about preparing your children for life; however, some parents don't see it that way. I respect their opinion too.

      Delete
  5. I am kind of like your girlfriend...I try very very hard to shield our kids from the world...very little tv and minimal computer and lots of books and sports instead...but, really they ride the bus, go to school and play on teams so they are not as sheltered as i wish they were..but I try anyway. still haven't felt the need to say vagina to any kids since I was pregnant...and that was 11 yrs ago...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny, though, Annmarie, because I'm all about some of those things too. We don't have a television either and I really believe in quality family time too. I think it's great that you are doing what you think is best. You should!

      Delete
  6. While I have no problem with the correct names and use them, generally we call a vagina a fanny and a penis a doodle in our home here in Australia. So we get a bit confused and have giggle when americans call their butts fannies! I don't get your friends opinion, while she is free to have it. God help the day poor Claire spits out 'vagina' in front of her and her kids lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that's the part that got me too. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but don't force it on other people. It's crazy too, because I really do believe in being respectful and not "in your face" about things that make people uncomfortable. My tolerance ends, though, when someone tells me I "shouldn't" do something.

      Delete
  7. We used the real names or we say "privates" but my son still thinks he has a "peanut." I've told him it's a "penis" but he just seems to like the word peanut better so we go with it! Visiting from the blog hop and will follow as well!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Visiting from Harriet's Friend & Follow blog hop!

    I've taught my 4 kids the correct names for their privates, and I've also been extremely matter-of-fact when it comes to discussing sex and how babies are made. I've always felt that I'd rather them hear about these things from me, correctly, than from friends or random kids on the bus, incorrectly.

    I read your profile and was struck by the "geriatric pregnancy" term. From your profile picture, you look like you're in your 30s...what in hell do OBs consider "geriatric"?!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great thought to share. I hadn't thought about it...that you'd rather teach them what's correct than have them hear some crazy story from some random kid. I like it. Thanks for commenting, Kelly Ann...And, wow, you made my day. I'm 40 something, and it's definitely something! :)

      Delete
  9. My kids now the correct names. When the oldest was 3 she fell on the balance beam at the part and yelled at the top of her lungs, "I hurt my vagina!" All the Moms stared at me in horror. I looked at them and said, "Well, she did." and congratulated her on correctly identifying a body part just like any other part.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Vagina and penis aren't dirty words. I don't have kids, but I don't understand why people who do avoid those words. They are anatomical names for body parts. Avoiding them is like an act of shame.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I remember when one of ours was learning to speak, and picking up everything anyone uttered. One evening, my wife told her it was time to go to bed. She leaned forward, raised her arms high and then brought them down to her side quickly, and said, "No, damn it, no. Not time for bed damn it!" I had to let my wife handle it as I could only manage to walk quickly out to the porch before breaking out in a laughing fit! I wish you luck. Btw, for unexpected outbursts in public, simply look helpless and say, "We've got to move. She's picking up so much from our neighbors it's shameful!" It works!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Good advice and a hilarious story. Out of the mouth of babes!

      Delete
  12. I loved that clementine bit. I remember my then two year old could say saltoposuchus but bicycle was "bikeayan"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't even know what a saltopsuchus is. A dinosaur, I'm guessing!

      Delete
  13. I have two boys, so I never had a problem referring to their boy part as a penis. That said, we've never spoken about the girl parts -- only that they're "private parts." They're in 2nd and 4th grade. I'm not ready for that conversation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it all feel trickier than it should. I know.

      Delete
  14. When my daughter was little, she had pinworms. When the doctor asked her what hurt, she said, "My vagina and my tushy."

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2013/01/wordless-wednesday-drivers.html

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think all parts deserve to have their real names used, just like your children...

    ReplyDelete
  16. "a long booger butt ride" - LOVE it!
    My son is speech and language delayed but he knows the word penis. Personally, I don't understand why people don't want to give their kids the proper names for their privates. But, that's me. Funny post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm right with you. I agree but to each his or her own! Thanks, Kristi!

      Delete
  17. Heh. I think all children automatically have that sticker affixed firmly to their forehead.

    For what it's worth, I agree with you about teaching them the actual names for things. There is nothing shameful about those words or what they mean. Better vagina than the many, many, horrible euphemisms out there, right? I like the distinction between public and private words. I'll have to file that away in my brain.

    Also - YES, omg, I have to stop swearing!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So people will give me the benefit of the doubt? I'm paranoid.

      Delete
  18. Oh my goodness, this is such a funny coincidence! My post today is also about labeling private parts! I'm honestly not sure I have read any other posts on this topic, so what a weird coincidence! My youngest is only 15 months and not talking yet, but her big sister is *very* interested in this subject right now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's very funny. I will hop on over and check it out, Stephanie!

      Delete
  19. Our daughter calls her body parts by the correct names and a friend of mine does not. When they go potty my daughter corrects my friends son who does not call his penis by the right name.
    However; at two and a half my child is obsessed with her bum, showing it off to us, and exclaiming "look at my butt!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter is more obsessed with MY butt than hers.

      Delete
  20. The fascination with those body parts and boogers and farts doesn't end anytime soon, so you may as well teach them to embarrass you with words you can live with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the best thing I've heard all day!

      Delete
  21. Coming over from the Wednesday walkabout. This post made me laugh out loud literally. I think this is something several parents struggle with. It wasn't until the other day when I was having a conversation with my 5 year old that we have never taught her the word "vagina" and simply called them girl parts. So when I said vagina in regards to babies being born, so says "what is a emgina?" Total Mommy fail!

    Good job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Emgina" is better than some of the pet names I've heard! :)

      Delete
  22. As a mom of all boys, words like butt and fart and poop are hilarious here. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you can't fight 'em, join 'em. Or so the saying goes!

      Delete
  23. Hello Rachel,
    I'm new here (stopping by from the Grow Your Blog Hop). I love your blog name - too funny! I'm now following on GFC and also Google+.
    I think there is a difference, socially, between using the correct name for female parts vs male... for our son (4-1/2), I had no trouble teaching him penis. But for my daughter (almost 2), I cringe at the thought of teaching her the word vagina, all the while knowing that I want her to know and use the correct word. Is it just me? Am I a vagina-phobe? :) LOL
    Happy Thursday!
    Ang
    http://jugglingactmama.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it depends on what you are used to from your upbringing. My parents called it "vagina", so I don't have a problem with it. So...no, I don't think you're a "vagina-phobe"! :)

      Delete
  24. lucky you don't have a child with Tourettes or like me, one with autism. They all say the darnedest things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I taught kids with autism and found that, most of the time, the things they said were really cute (and often repetitive!) I had one student who used to say "in the bag" every time he got excited. The whole class started saying it too!

      Delete
  25. Thanks for linking up at the Mommy Blog Hoppers Rachel :) This was a great post. I agree that even though it sounds too "grown up" it's better to teach our kids the right words for things such as private parts. My aunt taught my cousin to say "bunny" for "poop" and I just thought that was hilarious. But I agree, it is cool to watch your kids start to speak. My daughter can say "horse" and "nice" clear as day but when she says "diaper" it comes out as "bop boh". :) Happy Thursday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kera! I do not see the connection between bunny and poop. But to each his or her own!!

      Delete
  26. Hi! Just stopping by from the FTF blog hop! New follower on your lovely blog, would love to have you stop by my blog sometime and follow back if you like. As much as I truly would prefer to use the correct terms I never do. I usually just call it private parts because i'm not into calling them silly names. That is just weird.

    xoxo,
    Melissa @ thisgirlslifeblog.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. I don't like the silly names, myself.

      Delete
  27. Following from the blog hop. This post put a smile on my face. I have three teens and my advice to your friend, don't sweat the small stuff. Your kids will give you plenty of other things to sweat about. cheermamadrama.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Love it! I'm sure I'll be finding out about those other things soon enough...

      Delete
  28. I am the opposite of your friend. I actually really annoys me when people use cutesy words to describe private parts. They are just body parts. All males/females have either or. YES they are used for sexual reproduction (and urination for males). Sexual function is not implied when you teach your children the names. It's a PENIS and a VAGINA. Say it with me. PENIS. VAGINA. Now stop giggling. I taught my daughter the correct words, and she has come to me before to let me know her vagina hurts. She's not great at wiping, so sometimes I have to be extra vigilant. That freaks people out. Like omg she said the V word. Yes, she did. She's 6. It's a part of her body. She felt safe enough to come tell me it hurts so I can help her feel better.

    I've actually had her come back from my inlaws using a 'cutesy' name. I find out later she was sore so they put powder on her, not the way to go, obvs. And they obviously tried to curb her vocabulary. Which I am NOT ok with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't like "cutesy" for anything, myself.

      Delete
  29. Thanks for posting! I find this really interesting as I came from a family that shielded me from a lot of stuff I don't necessarily think it was the right thing to do as an adult looking back. I think there's a balance and hopefully your approach of public words and private words will be effective :)
    I'm a new follower from the Getting to Know you Blog Hop. I hope you can pop by my blog and follow if you like it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. I always like to try and find the balance between being honest and being respectful. That works for me.

      Delete
  30. You have a great point, these things do have names, and she is going to learn them sooner or later. Even if you chose to give them euphemistic names chances are people in public would still know what she was talking about when she yelled them out in the store. :) Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link Up. Hope to see you there again this week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't thought about the pet names being really obvious too. That's a good point.

      Delete
  31. As always, you leave me thoughtful and laughing at the same time. :)

    Just console yourself during embarrassing moments in knowing that someone out there is ALWAYS going to have more embarrassing children than you! For example, when my Princess was 2, she walked up to a complete stranger, squeezed the lady's breasts, and said "Nice boobs, lady!!" Ahhhh, the joys of parenting. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's hilarious! Thank you for sharing that story. It's priceless, really! And thank you for your kind words! I really appreciate it.

      Delete
  32. Maybe it's the hours (and hours) of Law and Order I've been watching, but to me it seems important for kids to be able to accurately describe all their body parts should the need arise with a doctor or police officer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha, ha! That's too funny. I've watched a lot of Law and Order in my day. Maybe, you're on to something...

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...