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Nudity Is No Big Whoop.

**Warning: The post you are about to read contains graphic –meaning accurate – terminology regarding personal parts and ladybusiness, and I’ll tell you why: Because I teach my kids the correct names for their body parts. (Gasp! What the Holy Vajayjay am I thinking?!) This is not just because it bothers me when children use cutesy expressions for their anatomy -although it does- but also because I refuse to be responsible for my future adult offspring uttering some dumb nickname down the road during a potential “business time” situation, which would obviously cause any otherwise willing party to burst out laughing at the very least, or at worst pack up their own hoohaa, weewee, or whatever they’ve brought to the table, and flee the vicinity. Hear that, kids? Mommy is not trying to c*#k block, or should I say penis block, the future you.

Gentlemen, listen up. If it did not enlist itself and serve overseas, it has not earned the title “The General”. No exceptions. Also, only if the first name on your birth certificate is Peter is any part of you  a “Peter”. However, if your name is Willy and especially if you happen to wear an eye patch for one reason or another, you may -and you must- rename your…you get it. You don’t want anybody expecting to discover a pirate or a kooky chocolatier down there. I think my new mommy blogger friend Jenny, self-proclaimed penis expert (interesting way to distinguish oneself from the pack of mommy bloggers, but that’s why I like this gal), would agree with me here.

Anyway, my kids use the terms “penis” and “vagina”, and they use them a lot. At full volume. They use them in the grocery store line, at the dinner table and liberally throughout stories-and-songs hour at the public library (and if you think about it, they’re right – “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” really is incomplete). To them, these are just regular old body parts like eyes or elbows, so they discuss them –and display them- with equal nonchalance. Makes for some uncomfortable public moments, but also some good stories. (Readers, puh-lease tell me yours in the comments section. I showed you mine; now it’s your turn.)

Once, when I was bathing with (then) 3-year-old Ben, he initiated a conversation about who had what and who didn’t (he had an all-important what and I lacked one, which he clearly saw as a deficiency). He felt sorry that I had been dealt a bad hand anatomically, and he just wanted his mama to be happy. Like most men, I think the notion that I could be content without my very own what to spend all of my free time with/worship/obey escaped him. So, he offered to make amends for Mother Nature’s oversight: “Mama, I could build you a penis”, he told me proudly.  Grateful for the sentiment, I assured him that I was O.K. with the current state of affairs and suggested that we both just be pleased with what we’ve got – or not got. (Like he needed encouragement to be pleased with his what.) But then curiosity overcame me, so I asked him what he would use for materials if he were, indeed, commissioned to build a penis for his mother. After careful consideration, he said: “Wood. And paint. Daddy would help me.”

Ben and I don’t routinely bathe together anymore, but there is still no shortage of unabashed nudity in our home on a daily basis. Ben’s getting to an age (almost 7), when many parents start to consider privacy – or rather, start to consider whether we should start considering privacy -and nudity- with our opposite gender children. At what point, if ever, should this become an issue? Here’s what I think, thanks for asking:

If it doesn’t feel like a big deal, don’t make it one.

One mom with whom I share many mutual friends, but don’t actually know personally, demonstrated this tactic perfectly or so I hear. I figure there’s no better way to make a new friend than by broadcasting her awesometastic nudity story all over the internet, right? (Nice to meet you, S.!)

A little while after giving birth to her third child, S. treated herself to a spa day complete with long overdue waxing and general maintenance in her Southern Hemisphere. The aesthetician/landscape architect who was employed to TCB (technical term) got a little over ambitious due to the magnitude of the project, and basically took her from the “Don King” to the “Military Recruit” as far as her lady’do was concerned. That evening, her eldest son (who is 6) entered the bathroom as she came out of the shower, and clearly noticed that something was abuzz(cut). S. wasn’t sure how to handle the awkward moment (I assume she was thinking, “Please don’t salute me, please don’t salute me…”) so she said nothing. Her son nonchalantly remarked with a shrug, “Hey, Mom. Got your vagina hair cut? Looks nice. Can you help me find a band aid?”

No Big Whoop.

About Mary Rekosh

I am a freelance writer, and also a children's yoga instructor at Bend Yoga Charlottesville. I am the the mother of one awesome chef, and the wife of three small children...wait, that doesn't sound right. Switch that around. I need a nap.

14 responses »

  1. Loved this!!! I have a 6 year old (also a Ben) and we talk about the same things!!

  2. Nice!! We don’t walk around naked at our place (much) but we do use the real names for body parts. Lately my 2 yo daughter has taken to following her 4yo brother into the bathroom. She stands beside the toilet while he pees, points, and says ‘penis’ every time. I think she might be concerned that she doesn’t have one!

  3. Hahaha! Mary, I LOVE you and your blogs. We, too, engage in much naked activity – you know, like doing our hair and eating dinner and catching up on the day’s events. Yes, we’re all girls and that makes it a little different, but … we’re all girls in a very respectable (traditional / conservative) city where vaginas have earned such names as ‘pocketbook’ and ‘diamond’ and should not ever make an appearance outside of the bathtub. You might be a redneck (Charlestonian elite) if … the bow on your child’s head makes her look like a gift and her pocketbook is in her bloomers. What’s that you say about self-respect? What happens at the altar when she says, “I do” and her husband slips a diamond – I mean a vagina – I mean a harness of love … well, I don’t know what I mean, but … what happens?
    We recently had to have ‘the talk’, during which my girls drew some very graphic representations of their perceptions of anatomy and what to do with it. Remarkably, we had a wrinkly, ejaculating penis (which looked much like those segmented fish charms) and an illustration of what was supposed to be a condom, but looked more like a magnetic strip on a penis (I had to explain that condoms are similar to the long balloons the balloon man at Pike Place uses to create fun little poodle hats out of). This talk was adventurous enough without Peter and Vajayjay and the Warrior King. We happily relish our correct anatomical terms and our freedom from the constraints of clothing.

    • Cam: YES. Just, yes. I am laughing out loud. “…if the bow on your child’s head makes her look like a gift and her pocketbook is in her bloomers…” You are going to need to do a guest post, girl. Get in on this mama blog action.

      • I just may! I need a new procrastination technique … my house is almost clean and my homework is done … will keep you posted.

  4. Mary, I had to respond. First, I love the blog and I can’t believe Ben’s so old! Second, I’m totally supportive of the proper name use and being open about such things in the house. And from this openness have sprung many interesting public moments and conversations. Here are two of ours:

    1 – About 6 months ago, Blake, our then 2 1/2 year-old, had developed a healthy interest in penises and vaginas, and while we were changing him one night, he looked at me very seriously and said, “mommy doesn’t have a penis” like it was a terribly tragic thing that we probably shouldn’t talk about too much because I might otherwise burst into tears at the reminder. So I said that, no I didn’t and asked him what girls had instead. Blake’s response was, “Girls have vaginas… girls eat vaginas.” Coles (my husband) and I muffled our snickers, so as not to make him feel embarrassed during such conversations, and I, with attempted straight face, said, “you’re right that girls have vaginas, but they are part of our bodies; girls don’t eat them.” To which his father quickly added, “well, sometimes they do.” While I do plan to discuss the variety of sexual orientations and preferences of all people with him at some point, I wasn’t sure that 2 was the appropriate age for that, so I decided not to elaborate on his father’s wise comment. So… we’re still unsure what our son took from that conversation, but he did go into school the next week informing his friends, “we do NOT eat vaginas!”

    2 – We love to dance around our house and dancing silly is SUPER fun, so we try to incorporate it into our days. One day, recently, Blake and I were dancing, probably to Adele as that’s one of his favorites; I was holding his hands and moving my hips to the music (it should be noted that this was kid-friendly, fun hip shaking, no gyrating or even remotely Shakira or Beyonce-esque moves involved), and he started giggling. Thinking we were just having fun, I started dancing faster, and then, laughing, he announced, “mommy is so funny dancing with her vagina!” Later, for good measure, as I dropped him off for school, he reported to his teacher that I like to dance with my vagina… and he doesn’t even know about the pole dancing I used to do!

    • Randi, these are priceless and you are a hilarious storyteller! I LOVE hearing about how kids take their experiences and translate them into stories that they tell at school, or anywhere else in public. And I had totally forgotten about your pole dancing! Such good stuff. Thanks so much for commenting.

  5. Awesome! You are so right — it’s not a big deal unless you make it a big deal. The End.

    OTOH, I was surprised to learn there are entire websites devoted to listing nicknames for human genitalia. I like to sprinkle a few into my conversation. No one ever need know what I really mean by Hot Pocket, Pound Cake, Fruit Cup, or Cherry Pop Tart.

    • Talyaa, thanks for your comment! And I had NO idea that there were entire websites devoted to listing nicknames for human genitalia. I kind of find that totally awesome, and *need* for you to send me the link to your favorites. That’s a separate post in itself!

  6. Enjoyed your post and agree on being natural about nudity and using correct terminology.

    It might be a bitt *too* correct of me, but I don’t think “vagina” is an accurate term to teach when covering the visible portion of female anatomy. The female external genitals are the vulva. The vagina is internal.

    • Jane, per my comment on Stefanie’s FB page, you’re absolutely right that “vagina” isn’t quite accurate when it comes to the visible portion of the female anatomy. However, my kids are young enough that I don’t think they can handle more than one term per gender, and vagina seems to cover a lot of bases. Also, while I tout all of this correct terminology I secretly don’t quite have the stomach for my 4 year old discussing her vulva in public. Yep, I’m a hypocrite.

  7. No, I Don't Have A Television Show Called Super Nanny

    I am a nanny caring for a 9 year old boy who has autism. I’m very fond of my Little Fella and incredibly protective of him as well. So when he comes to me one afternoon and tells me that “Peter hurt him in the bathroom at school”, I nearly lose my mind. I begin asking him questions as I’m freaking out double time inside my head but doing my best to keep it on the level for him. Does Peter go to your school? Yes. Is Peter in your class? Yes. Is Peter your same age? Yes. Are you and Peter friends? Yes. Is Peter bigger than you? No, he’s small but sometimes he gets big. (Huh??? I realize I need to change my line of questions because I am now confused more than ever!) When you were in the bathroom, how did Peter hurt you? While I was peeing. Where on your body did Peter hurt you? On my Peter. On your where??? My Peter. (Beginning to understand now…) Did Peter hurt you on your penis? Yes. Is Peter your penis? Yes. Oh, OK, does your penis hurt when you go pee? Yes, a lot and my butt itches too… Needless to say, Mommy and I had a much needed conversation about why Nanny uses the correct anatomical word. Because no one wants to hear about Peter hurting a 9 year old autistic boy in the bathroom at school. But mostly because I could have helped Little Fella address his needs immediately had I any freaking Idea of what he was talking about!

    My 4 year old Little Fella (from another family) gives me a completely different perspective. Conversation in the condiment isle of grocery store:
    LF: Nanny, you want the flat pickles? They taste good, I like ‘em.
    N: No thanks, LF. I’m looking for the long ones.
    LF: Ooooohhh…You mean the penis pickles? I never had the penis pickles.
    N: ??? Um, what kind of pickles?
    LF: You know, the penis pickles.
    N: Um, the peanut pickles? I don’t know what those are.
    LF: No. No Nanny. The PENIS pickles.
    N: Oh, right, the penis pickles. Can you show me? Please point to them.
    LF: These ones that look like penis.
    N: Huh? I guess they do look like penis. They are called WHOLE pickles. Please say that.
    LF: Whole pickles… They look like penis.


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