An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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)

  • Nix

    My mother called it my ‘privates’ – that caused great mental stress on me over the younger years of my life. It was something in my family that we rarely talked about, so having it hardly ever discussed and then going to the doctor to hear it lovingly referred to as ‘your privates’ just completely destroyed that first oh-so-grand pap smear.

    My best friend calls it a ‘coochie’ and one of my roomies calls it a ‘peach’. I opt for peach more than anything, it seems like a more appropriate word to use in the morning, over coffee and donuts.

  • My wife called it her “TWEE TWA” and “DO DAH”

  • smilcher

    BTW- my 7 yr old son used to call his testicles “Penis lungs”

  • jen

    I have a friend who always referred to it as “pootertang”.

  • Erin

    I think I called it my “privates” and “pee pee”.

  • It was all “heiny” as far as my mother was concerned.

    My favorite word for it appeared in college. I was doing a project over another guy’s apartment, and his roommate had one of the trampy foreign soccer girls in the bedroom with him. We (me and project boy) are both working industrially when we hear a shout, “don’t touch my nu-nu!”

    So, there you have it. It’s been my favorite label ever since. Nu-nu. I highly doubt Leta will hear that in everyday conversation and giggle.

  • I’ve heard it called several things. However I’ve taught my own daughter the proper terms. She knows that the vagina is inside and the whole area is referred to as the crotch and she knows the difference between boys and girls. Kids get confused enough by life so we decided to be straight up with her on this one.

  • Catherine

    My mom called it “bottom”… the whole thing was “bottom”. I’ve taught my daughter (she’s 3) to say “vagina”, but I reading the posts, perhaps I should rethink. When I was pregnant with her and going to the midwife, I could barely speak the word “vagina” when I had a question. When my daughter was potty training and would pee, I always asked her, “Is your bottom empty?” because sometimes she’d jump up before competely emptying. Guess maybe I’m stuck with “bottom”, but I pledge to later explain to her all her various parts!

  • I seem to remember my mother, talking to my sisters, referring to it as a “toozie” and for the life of me, I cannot imagine where that word might have come from.

  • my parents insisted on the actual names. but i agree. vulva and vagina aren’t very attractive.

    sidenote: my little sister called poop “mokoon balls”, with mokoon being her word for monkey.

    me, being 8 at the time, thought that was just about the funniest thing ever.

  • In the olde days we called it “the holiest of holies.”

  • My sister and I called them our beanies.

    …then we saw an entire family at a beanie baby convention wearing, “I Love My Beanies” tee-shirts…

  • I honestly don’t remember what I called it. But I can tell you with our oldest boy, we always called it his pee-pee. The only reason for it, it was easy for him to say. However, when we started potty training, he got totally confused, ’cause he was GOING pee-pee, but it didn’t come off. That’s when we changed it to penis, and going pee-pee. Of course, then we went to the grocery store and announced to every.single.person. “I have a penis in my shorts.”

  • allisonic

    Mine: cooder
    Boys: candy

  • Janet

    My mother used all the anatomically correct terms for both body parts and their functions. Therefore we were taught to “urinate” and “defecate.” Years later, when discussing my niece’s potty training, my sister-in-law announced to a room full of friends and family, “Joe’s mother taught him to urinate and fornicate.” Which just shows you big words can confuse even big people. Whatever you choose, keep it simple.

  • El

    Pee Pot. My best friend and I made this up all on our own.

  • Filipino household. We called the girl parts “pek pek” and the boy parts “pee pee” or “birdie.”

  • Karina

    Maybe this is in the risque category, but I can almost guarantee that there will be no confusion with it: “punani”

  • aah! now i have that margaret cho bit where she was in the hospital has nightmares about a gruff-voiced nurse by the name of gwen coming in to bathe her.

    “hello, my name is gwen, and i’m here to WARSH YOUR VAGINA!”

    ahem. as many have already said, my wife and i use “bits and pieces” when we tire of using “vagina”. my daughter will usually use “bits and pieces” when she’s in the bath.

  • Buh

    my daughter calls hers a “monkey” and she calls her brother’s a “tail”…

  • Buh

    my daughter calls hers a “monkey” and she calls her brother’s a “tail”…

  • Shae

    we always called ours a goonyah!

  • Rob

    We’ve got a little boy (4) and a little girl (2). We decided to refer to their “privates” as their “peepee”. If only because they will inevitably refer to it at one point in the future (like at a dinner party or in the middle of the mall) and you want it to sound cute and innocent like the kid who says it. My daughter will often tell me “My peepee hurts” if her diaper is giving her a wedgie. This is cute and not terribly embarrasing to anybody. We figure they can learn the proper terms for it when they get older.

  • red

    I have enjoyed reading these comments immensely!! What a great topic!

    I didn’t call my vagina anything, as a girl. It was never ever referred to, in my household. A bit of a shame.

    A great boyfriend I ended up having years later broke the spell for me, and came up with many pet names for my “AREA”.

    My favorite was “Si senor.”

    Obviously I don’t recommend this for a child!

  • Carolyn

    When I began parenting my stepdaughter (now a first grader) somehow her mother (my husband’s ex) and father (my husband) had come up with “Budgie”. Somehow, telling her to wash her budgie (I have been a part of her life since she was 18 mo. old) came naturally.
    Our nearly 3 yr. old daughter is aware that she has a vagina and boys have a penis, but she also uses the term “budgie” interchangeably for the v-word. Works for us.

  • My little one knows hers as her “parts” (as in “parts is parts,” from a 1980s commercial) or her “bits.” Technically, aren’t the female’s “outer bits” known as the vulva, while the “inner bits” are known as the vagina? In college, we called it the “foofy.”

  • Sonja

    Vagina was a “popo” and penis was a “doodler”. Imagine the horror when as a lil’ girl I was sitting at the table coloring, and a visitor asked me if I was a doodler!?

  • well, since i was born in brasil my mom had a really ugly word for it. “xoxota.” personally, i cringe every time she says it. she still does, btw.

    but a friend of mine told me her mother called it her music box. go figure.

  • Lori

    Well we use “muffin”, I don’t know why but it works and my daughter has not associated it with and english muffin or a bakery muffin, so all is well.

  • anna jr.

    mine was called a “wee-wee” and my brother’s was called a “pee-pee”.

    my ex called his penis “tucky” which i thought was ADORABLE – and could be used for either sex.

    as a grownup i generally will use the word “cooch” – but i will say vulva and vagina if i am referring to either in specific.

    but i vote for “betweens” or “poogie” of all the ones i have read so far.

  • Point Blank

    Hootie – works for boys or girls. As they get older, they need to understand they are private parts, then learn the real names.

  • a.march

    A girl has a pogey (pronounced “poe-gee”) and a boy has a doobie doobie. Also, if you have to urinate, you can say “I have to go she she.” That applies to both boys & girls, of course.

  • absolut di

    Your “business”

  • K

    I honestly don’t remember what my folks used. My dad never used any words, and I believe my mom used “down there” and “privates”–nothing too fun. However, a friend who is Portuguese said that the word for vagina in Portunguese is “vaguege” (va-juhj’). I have no idea how to spell it and it’s hard to explain how to pronounce, but the G’s are really soft, like french J’s (Je t’aime). I think it’s really pretty, and a real word. PS Tried to translate it on Google translations, but apparently Google thinks “vagina” is a bad word. Good luck!

  • Can you believe “thing-a-majig” is what my sister & I called it!? No that’s not difficult for a little kid to say!


  • lise

    Girls: “Coolie” (I think my family altered the Italian —as in “Va fa un cuolo”, go fuck yourself.)

    Boys: “Doodle”.

    Ass: “Heiny”

  • keller


  • portia

    cheeseburger is pretty cute, but with mad cow disease it might be odd in a few years. i like “tookie” – my boyfriend uses this word, and it’s great because it won’t ever have an association with anything else. also it’s damn cute.

  • cst

    turkey. because, obviously, the parts look like a turkey’s neck.

  • My mother called our vagina’s (oldest of 4 girls) a tush, and our butt was your bottom. I was in utter horror when in middle school and some said that got something sticky on their tush, in public mind you. I was going to die; I turned three shades of puce.

    As we got older we called them privates, now I call it was it is, a muff. 😉

    My son is 6 I tell him his Penis is just that, but in public we call it a pee-pee and honestly I don’t refer to it that much publicy. He on the other hand invented a world for his testicles, “Peanuts”. As in careful mom, don’t zip up my peanuts in the zipper with my penis!”

  • jenn

    My friend calls her a LA-LA but then again she is in her 30’s and is still calling it that…

  • Mooker

  • coming from my oh so latin up bringing. . my mother and grandmother referred to my vagina as “periquita” and male genitals as “pinga”. . .even though “pinga” is sort of a crude word of saying penis in spanish but they had no shame. . i was in a house filled with woman so “pinga” didn’t come up much. . no pun intended. . and the bottom was referred to as “culito”

  • i have a little girl, and when we bathe her or wipe her, we refer to her “nether regions.” it has a classy, literate sound to it. i kinda like it.

  • Sarah

    With 3 girls in the family, and only 1 boy, we had several terms for vagina: veegee (laughed the first time I heard the name of golfer Vijay Singh), bagina (much cuter than vagina), and (I don’t know where this came from) nu-nu. We normally called it nu-nu, but had to change it when my brother became best friends with a girl named Nutan, or Nu for short. I giggled everytime I said her name in the beginning. (I really am mature.) So, we changed nu-nu to nonnie. Now we always call it nonnie(rhymes with bonnie) or non (also spelled nawn/nohn) for short.

    I love this word for several reasons:
    1) it sounds cute
    2) generally, nobody has any idea what you’re talking about, so you can use it brazenly in public
    3) it sounds like a pet name for your vagina, complete with a nickname.

  • Wow! That’s a heck of a lot of comments! I knew vagina and penis kinda early on, but girls mostly had a pee-pee or a coochie and the boys had a wee-wee or a winkie. Or privates was interchangeable for either sex. Then I learned from my friends on our street words like business, tu-tu, girly bits, treasure, loo-loo, cho-cha and toolie, and peter, dick, jo-jo, dingle, and willy. I use crotchal area, naughty bits, girlie parts, or coochie a lot, and my nieces call it their squishy or girlie.

  • There is, of course, no correct spelling but my guy apparently learned that girls have ‘weegees’ and boys have ‘whoajoes’. I personally prefer whoajoes and have taken to calling my vagina, my whoajoes which ’causes me much fun as he says over and over again, no weegees weegees weegees. They are fun names and I like them better than vagina and penis which was the correct term in our house with the occasional ‘privates’ thrown in for good measure.

  • According to my four-year-old, boys have peanuts and vegetables and girls have anginas.

  • AW

    A friend of mine uses the expression “Ya-ya” with her kids, which has a nice, gentle ring to it.

  • Jake


    What font was that “my milkshake, it’s better than yours” made of, your previous style?


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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