Rewind 15/16 years ago and I am standing in my parents’ kitchen. My Dad, Mom and Sister are there and we are all joking about something. I say to my Dad “don’t be a dick”. My Mom then looks at me and says “Stephanie”, too which I replied “Sorry, don’t be a penis”. This says it all. My mom didn’t want me to use the derogatory/crude/rude word, she wanted me to use the correct term and so I did.
Fast forward to some time last week. When my co-worker received a phone call from a provider looking for an answer to “what do you tell little girls and little boys to call their private parts”. From my cube, I hear my friend say “Penis and Vagina” and she must have had to say it a few times and I was laughing to myself the entire time. I couldn’t even imagine what in the world the person on the other end of the conversation had said to her to warrant this response. After she hangs up the phone, she comes over to me. “Let me ask you a question, what do you call little boys and little girls private parts?” To which I responded “Penis and Vagina”. And we both hysterically laughed about it.
This conversation had just come up between me and my husband. We are in the process of potty training 2 year old son. Most of the time, I am the one who takes him into the bathroom to go and I always say, blah blah blah “your penis”. My husband says, “why do you call it that?” According to the love of my life, I should refer to my sons penis as “his junk”. I refuse to do this.
Why is it so uncomfortable for people to hear the words penis and vagina? The politically/anatomically correct words! It shouldn’t be taboo, we shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed to refer to our body parts by their correct name. We definitely shouldn’t be teaching our children to be shameful of this. To me, this was just matter of fact. I never questioned it or thought it was weird. Now after having this conversation with multiple people over the last couple of weeks. I am very curious as to what other people think.
Do I have this mentality because I worked with kids before I had kids of my own? I started working in the early childhood field 13 years ago. I don’t remember anyone teaching me what to refer to body parts as in my line of work, but I know that while diapering/potty training toddlers and preschoolers I always used the biological words to describe their anatomy. It never made me uncomfortable and none of my co-workers ever told me that it was uncomfortable for them. I don’t remember any of my co-workers not using the same verbiage when speaking to the kids. To me this is not a big deal.
The more that we talk about with kids like it is just the way this, the more comfortable they will be with the words and their bodies themselves. Comfortable so that if something is hurting, they are able to adequately describe the problem and the area to you or even to a doctor. Or what if heaven forbid someone talks to your child or touches your child inappropriately, if they know the correct terminology there will be no questioning when they are trying to talk to you about something/anything that is on their mind. I don’t know if this is “New Aged” thinking. Though it seems to me that we shouldn’t feel ashamed about teaching kids the correct names for their Penis and Vagina any more than we should feel ashamed about teaching them that their nose is a nose and their hand is a hand!