So picture the scene. Mummy is sat on the toilet. It’s her favourite time of the month and she’s trying to discretely do her thing while her children are momentarily occupied. Suddenly, in barges child. “Mummy what are you doing?” She’s not disgusted, just very curious. Within about three seconds her head is practically between Mummy’s legs as she tries to get a better view. Mummy has intentionally ignored the question, hoping it will go away. It doesn’t. More insistently this time, she asks again, “Mummy what’s that…what are you doing?”
We are a pretty open family. I’m really keen to instill a positive sense of body image and I truly believe that starts with showing them I’m happy to be me. My girls love nothing more than a naked run around and really when they see mummy or daddy with their kit off, they are most interested in poking belly buttons.
Obviously, at three years old, they’ve figured out that Daddy is a boy and has a willy. Lady parts are just not that easy to name. Until now, we have avoided labelling them at all. When I’ve needed to be specific such as wiping after using the toilet, instead of saying “wipe your ….” I’d just say to “wipe yourself”.
What to call IT?
Unfortunately, I think this has led to some confusion and the words bum and bottom are now getting used incorrectly. Because of this, I feel it’s time to start labelling correctly but I’m really stuck. Vagina just sounds far too scientific for everyday use. My brain whizzes through many, many other words I’ve heard IT called but they are either too airy fairy for my liking or just simply derogatory. There just doesn’t seem to be a willy equivalent.
I did a quick google search and found this Guardian article that had me howling with some of the ridiculous suggestions and this blog that convinced me that it needs to be vagina. Vagina, vagina vagina. I just need to keep saying it and stop avoiding it. If my daughters were getting anything else wrong, I’d gently correct them and so it’s time to do the same here. Pretending their vagina doesn’t exist is surely just doing my girls a disservice.
Back to the toilet
At first I’m vague. “I’m just putting something inside me.” This opens a whole can of worms as so many times I’ve told them not to put things inside their nose or ears. Unsurprisingly, she looks confused and asks “where your wee wee come out?” She’s three. I’ll admit it, I bailed on this question and distracted her with something shiny. Is three too young to start talking about the anatomy of our genitalia? In that moment, I knew I needed to think about it and so changed the subject. I’m not really sure why?
Not only do I now need introduce the V word….sorry vagina, vagina, vagina, I now need to start explaining exactly what’s down there. I won’t be getting my drawing pad out just yet but I’m going to try and be as upfront as possible and be led by them. Hopefully, they won’t feel the need to start shouting vagina at the top of their voices on the first day of preschool. I guess even if they did, at least they’ll be using the correct word and there are far worse words to shouting about.
What do you call you little ones private parts? Should we be talking about their body more?