My daughter has always loved body parts. A favourite of hers was to point at her eyes and say “My eyes” and then point at my eyes and say “Mommy’s eyes” she would go through every body part including elbows, knees, shoulders. I have read a few articles about how to answer when the time comes when she asks about genitals: to be honest and use the correct names. So I knew the correct term to use would be vagina and not flower for example and to say penis and not willy.
I knew the day would come but I wasn’t quite prepared when it did and it was a very funny episode that makes me giggle. We were in the bath together and my daughter was as usual pointing out and naming all her body parts and then doing the same with me. She then pointed at my (I was going to say something like lady bits but I’ll stick to the correct terms as instructed) vagina and said “That’s Mommy’s tail”…. I wasn’t prepared for that one.
While I was still struggling for breath and not sure what to say I managed to blurt out “No honey that’s not a tail” to which she replied “It’s Mommy’s bum” and here I had to bite a reply of “Yes, its Mommy’s front bum” so I started giggling and she started laughing too. I then managed to be the adult in our relationship and say “This is Mommy’s vagina”. She was so pleased at learning a new body part that the rest of the bath time was devoted to vagina’s and pointing.
She then tells me “Papa’s got a vagina” and once again the silly (naughty) side of me kicked in and I wanted to say “No honey, he’s got a Mangina” but I managed to giggle instead. Now I was grappling for what I read in all the magazine articles about vagina’s, penises and sex….
Luckily it came to me as I was giggling and just saying”Ummmm” very stupidly and repeatedly. I replied “No, Papa doesn’t have a vagina” and that was it. The recommendations I read were to just answer the questions and nothing else. When they are ready they will ask and then I can answer directly. It worked quite well and for the moment that was the end of the conversation of vaginas.
After she was in bed I thought I better tell my husband about this talk, more for his sake than hers because I don’t think he had ever said vagina before and I had to warn him what was coming…and maybe to practice saying vagina. He seemed a bit embarrassed by the conversation and then it was over.
A few days later my daughter and I were lying on the bed playing and as her Papa walked in she pointed at my vagina and said “Mommy’s vagina”, then at hers and said it was her vagina. She then turned to Papa (who looked like a deer caught in headlights) and said very casually (and almost like he was missing out on something important like sweeties) “Papa you don’t have a vagina” to which he ran out of the room and wasn’t seen for about an hour. But just as quick she was on to elbows and noses again.
I wonder what it is about genitals and sex that makes us so uncomfortable? I think I have managed to do quite well with my daughter so far, she seems to just consider it as another body part, interesting only because it is a new one she has learnt.
I wondered how long it would take her to talk about penises since my son had been born and she was always sticking her nose in and trying to help every time we bathed him or did a nappy change. About 3 weeks later she came into the room when I was changing his nappy, stuck her finger right onto his penis and told me it was his bum…. once again out of nowhere and completely unprepared and surprised. I just said no, that is not his bum.
She then said “Oh it’s his vagina” and I said “No that’s his penis. Boys have penises and girls have vaginas” She then toddled out the room repeating girls have vaginas and boys have penises.
Another few episodes that have occurred is she is at that age that she is starting to fiddle with herself, perfectly normal I believe but it has been rather awkward at times. She used to love stripping down naked and running around, perfectly normal and I have no problem with it at all.
However there have been a few occasions where she has sat in the lounge right next to either me or her Papa and been rather inappropriate and then I have struggled what to say to her. I don’t want to make a big thing of it and I certainly don’t want my vagina-fearing husband to deal with it.
I also don’t want her to get a complex and think touching herself is dirty. I managed (much to my husband’s raised eyebrows) to tell her each time that she must close her legs and it is fine to touch herself, but by herself in her room, not in the lounge. And then I just carried on as normal as if it was nothing.
People don’t really talk about this sort of thing or how to deal with it. I have read magazine’s saying not to give the child a complex or make them think it is dirty, the question is HOW do you do that. What exactly do you say. Nobody gives us moms a complete guidebook on how to phrase these delicate matters. I suppose I should try and deal with it in the same way I deal with the nose picking problem. I suppose it is fine if she wants to pick her nose too, it is her nose and her body…. but certainly not in public.
One of the best laughs I have had to date with my daughter is driving home and out of the blue my daughter decides to educate me about her little brother: “Mommy, he is a boy because he has peanuts”.