the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Teaching Our Daughter About Her Cheeseburger

When I was a child I knew the proper terms for the sexual anatomies of both girls and boys and wasn’t afraid to remind my grandmother to wash my vagina when giving me a bath. My grandmother, however, couldn’t believe she had raised a son who could in good conscience teach his own kids to use such foul language. Oh the horror of her grandchild uttering PENIS! You might as well arm your kids with a gun and teach them how to shoplift! Penis is of course the gateway drug to felony misdemeanor.

At the age of four I was also under the impression that the penis was also called a delicate. The only way I could get my then seven year old brother to stop tickling me was to kick him in the delicate. It worked every time! My father had to pull me aside and tell me that boys had delicate parts and that I could permanently injure my brother’s delicate if I kept kicking him there. Years later when I was able to spell I noticed that the washing machine had a delicate cycle, and I could not for the life of me figure out how boys could detach their penises to wash them in the washing machine. And where was the vagina cycle? I wanted to detach my vagina and stick it in the washing machine.

Jon’s mother also taught him the proper terms for his anatomy, but when she taught him that a vagina was a vagina he thought she said China. For years he would silently gasp when anyone referred to the country or to the tableware, and once when he was at his friend’s house and his friend’s mother began singing “China Girl” he COULD NOT BELIEVE this woman was openly talking about her China. Thank God his mother didn’t sing about her China.

Jon and I are struggling with what we’re going to call Leta’s anatomy when she’s old enough to start talking about it. I do want her to know that she has a vagina, and we will teach her all the medical terms pertaining to her AREA, but when we talk about it casually, I think that calling it a vagina will get tiring. Vagina is such a laborious word. It’s got three distinct syllables and you almost have to chew the word to get it out. What we’re looking for is something cuter. Vagina is not cute.

We also have to consider the fact that whatever we teach her to call it will have its meaning completely altered in her mind. If we teach her to call it her PARTS then whenever she hears the word PART she’ll either be mortified or she’ll chuckle wickedly. The ultrasound technician called it a CHEESEBURGER, but I don’t want her to have to think about her vagina every time she pulls up to a drive-thru.

Some terms we’ve considered:

Bug
Parts
Area
There
That place
Um, you know (and then pointing in the general direction)
Poogie
Bottom System

I honestly can’t believe I’m asking this, but what did you call your parts when you were a kid?

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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