Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

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:

That place
Um, you know (and then pointing in the general direction)
Bottom System

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

(comments now closed)

  • Jenn

    In our house, my brother had a “Harry” and my sister and I had “Harriets”. As in “Don’t forget to wash your harriets!” or “No, you can’t use bubble bath. It will irritate your Harriet.”

  • I called it “My crack.” Such as, in the bathtub and I didn’t get all the soap out “Mom! My crack is burning!”

    I later on used the phrase “hoohoo” which has now been turned into “cooter.”

    We’ll probably use cooter around our soon to be born child.

    My best friend’s little sister called it her “Tutor.”

  • pie

    ok Jenn up there wins. Harry and Harriet are fantastic names.

  • ANI

    We weren’t allowed to talk about our neather regions. Good luck. How about poodle? Heh.

  • phin

    My grandmother called it “down there.” My mother never really talked about it. (explains a lot) My husband’s family calls it the “area,” which works nicely for boys and girls but can cause giggles because it’s a pretty common word. “Now if we step over into this area…”

    I heard the word “yoni” (rhymes with Joanie) somewhere–I think it actually means vagina–and we use that for my girls. The 3 year old knows all the real words, too (fun to hear a 3yo talking about her clitoris) and calls the whole package her “yoni area.”

  • I don’t remember calling them much of anything growing up, but I must have been told the term vulva once. I know this because I hated the fact that we had a Volvo station wagon – the two words sounded identical to me. 🙂

  • I remember mine being called a ‘Tuppence’ (well two pence really but thats how its pronounced in England). But that wasn’t just me, I remember boys running around giggling at the word.

    My friend told me once that she always called hers ‘lily’, which I think is quite sweet really.

  • Nita

    My mom gave birth to 4 freaking girls & she used the term winkie [winky?] for all of us…I guess the term has been used in my family for ages, because every time an aunt or cousin has a baby & I’m there to witness a diaper/clothing change, the word winkie always comes up. Kind of like a private part name heirloom. oh, & as far as I know, boys have a twinkie.

  • When I was pregnant with my first child, my sister & I found the potty book. It’s a story to help you child potty train with a song on a cassette tape. We’ve taught our children to call it their pee-pee, but the book calls it wee-wee. Either way I think the point is made.

  • I didn’t have a word for it. I remember telling my mother (loudly) in a parking lot that if I have a backside than this (it involved pointing) must be my “front side.” I learned “vagina” from books when I was about 9 or so.

    My daughters learned “vulva” when they were 18 months old and they once they did, they used it often and to anyone in the general area. “Vulva” is the correct term for the outter area and somehow, it just sounds better than “vagina”.

    They don’t quite get the concept of “penis” yet since my husband is deployed so it’s just us girls. My oldest pointed to a picture of a little boy in one of her books and announced, “vulva.” Oh well, we’ll deal with that in the near future.

  • wilkat

    Bunny Ears. I know sounds odd – but my my mom said that when my sister was little she was sitting naked one day when she was little and looked down and said “Hey! I have bunny ears!” She is now 33 years old and has yet to live that one down…..

  • psquared

    We refer to Girls’ parts as her bubby. It’s cute, non-offensive and get’s the message to her. Used as such: let’s wash your bubby and butt (bathtime), singing to the tune of tiny bubbles while changing said girl…Tiny bubby….it’s sooo cute….Tiny your birthday suit…

    By the way…the sleep book you’re using totally rocks. Our Girl is almost 21 months now and she’s totally predicatable. It was hard in the beginning, but it’s totally cool now. She goes to bed every night @ 7-7:15 and gets up @ 6:30-7 every morning. No fuss…no muss.

    good luck


  • Laura

    My grandmother referred to penises as “tallywhackers”; I don’t recall her using a term for vaginas, but I always called mine a “tutu”. Needless to say, I was more than a little abashed when my 1st-grade ballet instructor exclaimed that all her pupils looked “so pretty in their tutus.”

  • Sherry

    We always called it “tooter”. It was a gender neutral term. We knew we were talking about “down there” on either a boy or girl. I have taught my four year old son to use the word penis. I overheard his dad giving him a bath telling him to wash his “boy parts”. After telling him two or three times, my son finally said, “I don’t know what that is!” I yelled down the hallway, “Your penis!” It really cracked me up.

  • Aisha

    My grandma used to call it a “maykee” or a “coo-fan”! They both kinda stuck, now I have my 2 yr old saying the same silly mess I grew up saying.

  • Damn, you get a lot of comments.
    I like “the girl”…. that’s what she’s called lately, although I am also fond of cooter.
    I think my mom called it by the technical “vagina” nomenclature. I’m neither here nor there on that word.

  • Lisa G

    Girls have “cookies” and boys have “tails”. Although a preschool teacher told us that we should never use “nick names” especially with small children, because of the world we live in and the high instance of sexual child abuse. In order to protect kids they need to be able to verbalize any improper touching – so sad!

  • megchem

    When we were little my bro’s part was called a doink and mine wasn’t called anything…but a friend of mine has a girl and she calls it a butt butt and my son calls his a peeper not to be confused with a popper which is a popsicle….

  • Heather

    My mom always called it a “bird” and I’ll never, ever understand why.

  • We called it by it’s scientific name, or in mixed company, “privates”. But I think I’m going to have to go with “coochal region” from now on.

  • Rebecca

    I cannot believe I read this far.

    Anyway, As I remember from childhood:

    Girls: Winky

    Boys: Dink

  • Ratalie

    I am at work and, though tempted, unable to read through the huge number of responses to see if these gems from my past made the list already. One friend’s mom referred to genitals of either sex as “your personal business.” My grandmother would refer to female bits as (phonetically given here)”goon-gee” (with the second syllable pronounced as in the word geese) and for boys – the “shame-shame”. Now if that isn’t potentially damaging to one’s sexual identity development, I don’t know what is.

  • Matt

    NINNY… someone I once worked with had 3 girls…ninny worked well.

  • Daisy

    My cousin always called the little girl’s a Dutesy (rhymes with cutesy). So, my male cousin’s always grew up thinking another name for a little girl is Dutesy. One day my cousin walks into daycare and hears my male cousin (who is about 4 at the time) yelling at the top of his lungs he wants to play house and he wants to be the DUTESY!! My cousin about died!!

  • In my family, even my grandmother calls it a vagina.

  • corrinne

    I cannot recall what “it was called in my early years only that when I got a bath my mother would tell me to Plie so that she could clean down there. It sure made for some snickering when she put me into ballet class. It slowly dawned on me that the other girls mothers didn’t use ballet terms when they got baths. Don’t laugh I thought it looked like a flower, a tulip no less, so called it a tulie. Now I just call her “my girl”

  • Stacy

    I used pee pee until I met my childhood friend. For some reason her family referred to it as doobie, and that has stuck ever since.

  • we call the girls part as “quack-quack”, and the boys’ part as “sausage”.

  • My mom taught us that boys had “peenies” and girls had “ginies” – I can’t even spell that, but its like vagina, only cuter.

  • Liz

    How about just keeping her in the dark about the whole thing. I didn’t know I had anything down there until I was about ten. That kept me pretty celibate for the next 10 years after that.

  • Nancy

    When she was two our daughter started calling it her “pee stuff”. This seems to work great, since everybody has “pee stuff”.

  • rcarr

    my mother raised three girls and called all of ours “Tooter”

  • SLO Jane

    HooHa = girl-bits
    Pennsylvania = boy bits

    When I was a new mom, I called the food boobs, “NaNa’s” …
    When my daughter first starting talking she would lift my shirt (at very inappropriate times…) and say NaNa milk! NaNa milk!

    Yeah, the whole breast-feeding thing is what you need to worry about. Your daughter is gonna think she owns your boobs! I started to call myself 7-11! Open all the time!

  • we had these neighbors that used to call it a front butt…I don’t really remember talking about it that much. I think though my mom referred to it as a “patutie” aww memories…

  • bigbadem

    I think I’m a little too far down on the list, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyway. I think I just called mine what it was, or at least don’t remember it’s pet name, but my friend’s Spanish grandmother used to call HER, not even her “parts”, a cononito de oro, or little golden cunt. Kind of cute in a bizzar sort of way.

  • shannon

    When I had my ultrasound finding out that I was going to have a boy the doctor called his parts a turtle. I don’t remember ever calling the girl parts anything so I am no help there.

  • Sabrina

    My great-grandmother called my feminine parts a ‘googoo’. I still can’t listen to that band without breaking down into hysterical laughter.

  • murphy

    I would have to suggest going with “danger zone”. But that is only funny if you watch mad tv and know who stuart is.

  • For some reason, we’ve started calling our 5-month-old daughter’s vagina her “business.” As in, “stop squirming, I need to clean your business.”

  • Jeannette

    We say “labia” because that is the part our two-year-old is pointing to when she asks, “Whassat?” With the recent addition of a baby brother, we have heard lots of talk about his “Pee-NUSS” and how she has no “Pee-NUSS”, only a “ladybug.”


  • I think generally, we simply DIDN’T refer to our anatomy in my family when I was a child. If we did, I’m sure we simply said “crotch.” When my son was younger, we used the term “peebug” rather than penis. Now that he’s older (9), he says crotch, as well. My 3yo step-daughter, despite my best efforts, calls hers, her “front butt.” Oy!

  • Colette

    We always called it “downstairs”.
    Breasts were called “upstairs”.

  • Privates or Down There.

    I love Peter for a boy’s name, but I don’t think I’ll EVER be able to use it because of calling boys’ anatomy by the same name.

  • M

    My cousin calls it a peach. My friend called it a punky. I called it what it was to the dismay of my third grade teacher.

  • Diana

    My parents taught me the real names too. Though for a long time I thought it was a Virgina. It didn’t seem to bother me that my grandparents lived in Virgina. I like “betweens” and “fancy.”

  • We called it a variety of names: hoo-hoo, cooch, catdog (for a penis), flower, etc. I could go on and on and on . . . to this day I can’t recall ever hearing my parents calling it anything at all. I think they’re still in denial.

  • Brandi

    I always called them my private parts but my favorite is my friends children call them their party pots since when she was teaching them it was their private parts they could not say that very well. I just love “party pots” I think it goes well 🙂

  • Lisa

    I taught my three-year old to call it the same thing I called it.


  • KJW

    Oh, pleeaase don’t call it “fancy”. The term that generic ketchup makers use (fancy ketchup)is going to take on a whole new meaning when she starts her period. And speaking of what to call things, why is it called a period anyway?

  • My parents called it my “pee pee”. But, I heard it referred to as a Vagina somewhere at a young age, and thought mine would transform from a “pee pee” to a Vagina before I got older, and that pssibility scared me.

    Luckily, I have a son, the word penis is not laborious to say.

    My friend teaches her daughters, “sue sue”.

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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