the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Age of euphemisms

We’ve been introducing the concept of the toilet to Leta for a while now mostly by letting her follow us right into the bathroom to watch as we go potty. You don’t really think about these things until you’re trying to teach another person, but she has to be introduced to the concept of pulling her pants down, to toilet paper, to wiping and flushing. This is also that monumental turning point in her life when she learns that Mama has a bunky, and Daddy? Well, Daddy has a Snuffleupagus.

We had struggled with what we were going to teach her to call her parts, and before you freak out and call the police because we’re encouraging our child to nickname her vagina, don’t I know that now that I’ve allowed such aberrant behavior she’s going to grow up and nickname the severed limbs in her deep freezer, let me assure you that we’ve gone ahead and taught her the correct anatomical designations as well. It’s not like we’re calling it her Wallace or her Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

We decided on bunky because it was cute, and there was no possibility of it being confused with any other inanimate object. I mentioned here once that we were considering bunky, and I got a frantic email from one of my readers begging me not to choose bunky, please, don’t do it, Bunky was her mother’s name. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT? And why did she have to tell me because now when I hear it all I can think of is an imaginary silver-haired woman wearing a floral apron and garden clogs, not that her mother was that sort of domestic type, I don’t know, I’ll never know, she could be a ball-breaking attorney who wears Jimmy Choos, Ball-Breaker Bunky, but that image lodged itself into my brain and now whenever I talk to Leta about my bunky I can’t help but envision a vagina preparing a pot roast and then sewing the button back on a festive Christmas sweater.

Often while I’m using the bathroom Leta will stand in front of me with a wad of toilet paper she’s torn off the roll. She rocks back and forth from one leg to the other in impatient anticipation of The Best Part, the wiping bunky part, which is awesome because it means I’m almost done and she is this much closer to Sesame Street. “All done?” she asks, and without waiting for me to give an answer she hands me the wad and says, “Wipe bucky, huh?” This amuses me more than it should because there is a very outspoken reader of this website who goes by the name Bucky Four-Eyes, and the fact that my daughter is invoking her name when referring to a vagina is as perfectly reasonable as if she were mentioning God’s name in a prayer.

To take her toilet lessons a step further we had my mother bring over a training potty on Sunday afternoon. We hoped that if Leta thought it was a present from Grandmommy she would be more fascinated with it, and that she would approach it with as much excitement as she would an interaction with Grandmommy. My mother is going to be aghast that we’re teaching Leta to associate the toilet with the Avon World Sales Leader, and at the same time proud of me for my motivational management technique.

Leta loved her new potty and has wanted to carry it with her everywhere she goes. In fact, when we told her we weren’t going to take the potty with us to the grocery store she was as upset as if I had told her she had one month to live. Yesterday morning she grabbed me by the hand and led me to the bathroom where her potty was sitting next to the bathtub. “Want potty,” she said and tugged on it to indicate that she wanted it relocated. I picked it up and asked her where she wanted it and then followed her into the living room where she pointed to a spot in the middle of the floor. I expected that parenthood would entail a lot of humiliating moments, but never did I once suspect that I would be reduced to the job of Potty Butler.

After I set it down, I walked back into the kitchen to grab my cup of coffee, and when I returned I found her sitting on her potty watching television, lid up. As if it were a La-Z-Boy. This makes sense because her father takes so long to use the bathroom you’d think he was in there watching “Matlock.” She’s catching on.

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/24 at 1:40 pm

    Stickers are magic! Yes I have them all over the house, but it’s worth it! We use them for bathtime and the potty. Now when my daughter has to use the potty she says, “Sticker!!!”

  • Michelle~in~Memphis....ugh

    2006/05/24 at 1:41 pm

    Too, too cute!!! Girls are so easy like that. It’s the boys that want to poop in their pants till they are 5.

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/24 at 1:42 pm

    AnnC you made me laugh the hardest! I’m having a bad day, and you just made it all worth it!

  • Snickrsnack Katie

    2006/05/24 at 1:44 pm

    Bucky finally gets the recognition she deserves! Yay!

    As for the euphemism “bunky”, it also makes me laugh because my fifth grade teacher’s name was Bunky Sorochak. Mr. Sorochak was an extremely overweight middle aged man, who had skin tags on his eyelids. Don’t ask me why I remember that, but I do. I mean, this was about fifteen years ago, but I remember those skin tags. And he used to keep Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups in his desk drawer, and when we would get a perfect score on a test or homework, he would toss us piece of candy. And not the Halloween snack size – but the FULL. SIZE. CANDY BAR! This man was awesome. Sadly, Bunky Sorochak ended up coming down with Type 2 Diabetes and had to quit teaching, and a few years after I had him as my teacher, he lost a leg. So Bunky had to hop around on crutches, until he died a few years later. Strangely, after he was a teacher, he became mayor of the town I lived in, and there was this huge sign as you entered the town that said “Kingston, PA – HOME OF BUNKY!” So now, everytime I think of my childhood home, I will think of vaginas. Well, for any northeast PA town, that isn’t that strange of a correlation.

    So now instead of thinking of an old gray haired lady in a muu-muu you can think of a fat, sweaty elementary school teacher turned mayor, with skin tags on his eyelids and a wooden leg! Yeah!

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/24 at 1:33 pm

    Can a 2 year-old get hemorrhoids?

  • Bird Lover

    2006/05/24 at 1:34 pm

    One more thing…the male body part has not been named in our house yet but Kayla did ask her dad about it when she was two. She was lying on the bed with him (clad only in underpants) and she poked him in the penis and asked him what he had in his pants. “Is it poop?” she asked in all seriousness. I think her dad was too shocked to say anything before he busted out laughing. We have yet to resolve that question for Kayla.

  • Heather

    2006/05/24 at 1:30 pm

    Now if you could just get her to use it for it’s actual purpose you’d be in business!!

  • Jennifer in Kansas City

    2006/05/24 at 1:31 pm

    Greatest Picture, EVER. Could she look any more summery sweet? Well, yes, I guess she could be sitting a kid-sized adirondack chair, instead of a potty trainer.

  • llucas

    2006/05/24 at 1:32 pm

    Her “Wallace”? Oh, my.

    We have a four-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Wallace, so “her Wallace” suggests (to me) a Napoleonic personality, a ferocious appetite, and a double coat of fur. Sheesh…gotta shake this out of my mind now…

  • Cassie

    2006/05/24 at 1:29 pm

    That is such a cute picture!

    And thank you and my fellow commentors for the smile 🙂

  • annepet

    2006/05/24 at 1:30 pm

    I laughed until I cried at this – my daughter is a couple of months younger than Leta – we have this joy yet to come. (But it’s time we got her big bro’s potty out of the loft…)

  • Darlin'

    2006/05/24 at 1:29 pm

    what happened to bottom system? that is one great euphemism. although bunky is much better than so, so many options.

  • AnnC

    2006/05/24 at 1:23 pm

    My husband,when questioned by our then 3 year old daughter (and totally unprepared), said that being a girl, that part of her anatomy was called her “Shirley Temple”.


  • Bird Lover

    2006/05/24 at 1:28 pm

    In our house, the vagina is called a “po-po”. I have no earthly recollection of where that name came from but there it is.

    When I potty trained my daughter she liked to sit on it and watch television. One time I got the bright idea that if I let her watch TV pantsless that maybe she would pee-pee in the potty. She did and I was so excited that for a moment I seriously considered saving the contents to show her daddy what a big girl she was when he got home from work.

    I know, I know, there is no need to tell me how weird that sounds. I blame it on my hormones.

  • JessicaRabbit

    2006/05/24 at 1:29 pm

    Well Bucky as your girlfriend I can confirm to Dooce and everyone else that you are, in fact, a vagina. And dont worry Squirl, I am totally proud of her.

    Last night at the grocery store when I put my cold hands on her stomach I can promise you all she acted like a big vagina as she tried to get away.

    Now Im going to start calling her My sweet Bucky bunky vagina monkey honey baby sugar pie.

  • jes

    2006/05/24 at 1:14 pm

    Gah. I keep forgetting that HTML is turned off.

    “this picture of GIANT VAGINAS”:

  • rivetergirl

    2006/05/24 at 1:18 pm

    Yeah, potty training. I wish I had some sage advice, but despite the fact that my kid is potty trained, I had virtually nothing to do with it.

    Our dear daycare lady (whom my daughter called Gramma Julia) did the whole thing.

    We just did what she told us to.

    And it worked.

    Potty training was the easiest part of parenting a toddler for me.

  • jes

    2006/05/24 at 1:12 pm

    Bunky, The Vagina.

    Incidentally, earlier today I was browsing some pics of San Francisco’s B2B 2006, and came across this picture of two women each dressed up as a GIANT VAGINA.

    I’m totally being serious.

  • sharkcutie

    2006/05/24 at 1:10 pm

    Dr. Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy calls her vagina a vuh-jay-jay as in: “O’Malley! Quit looking at my vuh-jay-jay!” when she delivered her baby!

    As a little girl, my daughter called her vagina a pik-pik, allegedly the Tagalog word for vagina (we lived in the tropics with lots of filipino nannies). I was so happy she did because once we were at the Mall of America Aquarium, which has an overhead tank with sharks swimming in it, and my daughter looks up and yells: look Mom, you can see their pik-piks!

    At thirteen, she refuses to call body parts by any name unless she is required to do so in health class. I know she must have died a thousand deaths having to write the word “testes” on the “label the male reproductive system” assignment.

  • The Bold Soul

    2006/05/24 at 1:10 pm

    Hey, my goddaughter was potty-trained in front of the TV — it works, so don’t knock it! I was once babysitting her during her potty-training days (she’s 13 now) and brought along my new boyfriend to keep me company. He was (and probably still is) deathly afraid of small children, but he was holding well around her until she needed to use the porta-potty seat in front of the TV. He got white as a sheet and I gave him permission to go watch TV in the other room… I really felt sorry for the guy.

    Somehow, despite that torture, he didn’t immediately dump me for forcing him to watch me empty the potty. It was a pretty good test of his ability to deal with a lot of shit (literally) in our relationship.

  • Angela

    2006/05/24 at 12:54 pm

    It takes a lot just to be able to comment here!

    All I wanted to say really was to not worry too much about the naming of parts.
    When my daughter was three and my son had just turned one she realized they looked different in the bath tub. She came running out to me saying that Jacob had a chubby tail and she didn’t. She was hysterical and shrieking it, echoing throughout the eight story apartment building. We have always taught the correct names of parts so this “chubby tail” was a creation all her own.
    It stuck. We have officially adopted the name because it was so cute at the time and its adorable to hear my youngest (yes, I bred, I have three!) say it.
    If you ever find yourself with a boy, feel free to use it if you want to.
    That is all.

  • TeenSleuth

    2006/05/24 at 1:10 pm

    It’s nice to see you and Jon addressing The Naming of Parts. Parts were certainly not named in my household. In second grade someone told me a boy’s thing was called a “Fitzgerald,” and I believed them. It gives new meaning to The Great Gatsby, don’t you think?

    I remember one particularly humiliating bathroom moment when I had realized that poo-poo and pee-pee were the end result of eating and drinking and I pointed to my turds in the toilet and asked Mom, “Is that what we eat?” But she misunderstood and screeched “Oh my God NO! Don’t touch it!” I still don’t get how she interpreted that I wanted to ingest my poo.

  • Vicky

    2006/05/24 at 1:09 pm

    That’s a pretty cool potty! Looks just like a teeny toilet. By the way have you cut her precious hair?? Or is it just tied to look shorter? *panics*

  • lesismore

    2006/05/24 at 1:09 pm

    Since I work with two and three year olds all day, I spend a lot of time in the bathroom (do you remember those little toilets all in a row?) And when you’re teaching a large group of children how to use the toilet, you pretty much just have to suck it up and use all of the technical terms for things.

    I mean, if a little girl asks me to help her wipe her “poo-non-ay,” and another one “her la-la,” it could become very confusing very quickly.

    And though I call it a vagina to a three year old, I still can’t call it one to my own age group. No, not po-po like the cops…po-po like my wa-yi-nah!

  • heideknit

    2006/05/24 at 1:08 pm

    Leta sitting on her potty in the middle of the living room reminds me of a hilarious/horrible experience: I was visiting my sister-in-law and newest little nephew over a year ago. She and my husband and I were chit-chatting in the dining room, where there happened to be a training potty sitting in the corner (why???). My niece (she was 4 at the time and potty trained) came in, dropped her drawers, and took THE BIGGEST DUMP EVER right in front of us in the potty in the dining room. My SIL acted like it was nothing, took her to the bathroom to wipe her and clean out the potty after she finished, leaving my husband and me staring at each other speechless and fascinated and horrified.

  • heideknit

    2006/05/24 at 1:08 pm

    Leta sitting on her potty in the middle of the living room reminds me of a hilarious/horrible experience: I was visiting my sister-in-law and newest little nephew over a year ago. She and my husband and I were chit-chatting in the dining room, where there happened to be a training potty sitting in the corner (why???). My niece (she was 4 at the time and potty trained) came in, dropped her drawers, and took THE BIGGEST DUMP EVER right in front of us in the potty in the dining room. My SIL acted like it was nothing, took her to the bathroom to wipe her and clean out the potty after she finished, leaving my husband and me staring at each other speechless and fascinated and horrified.

  • Carli

    2006/05/24 at 1:07 pm

    At our house, girls have a “cookie” (but only because that’s what the vag has been called in my family for generations) and the the boys have “peppers” because it sounds so much like pecker that I think it’s hysterical. Today out on a walk with my three year old son, he had to pee. You will know very soon what it’s like once they’re trained, that you freakin’ go NOW no matter what or where. This park is on a pier and I just took him over to the slats in the railings, pointed out to the water and told him to pee there. I am now the coolest mom, EVAH! Maybe not to the tourists, who were flocking around, snapping photos of birds, fish and maybe even little “peppers”, though. Good times, good times.

  • leahkay

    2006/05/24 at 12:58 pm

    Dude, my boyfriend’s name is Bunky. At least according to his mom.

  • Toyfoto

    2006/05/24 at 1:03 pm

    I am so bad at this parenting stuff. I don’t think I’m going to be able to use a nickname let alone remember to refer to genitalia at all. My thought process is SO without … um thought. I’m going to have a tough enough time saying the WORD panties. The show and tell thing, I can do. Perhaps they’re hope for my kidlet yet.

  • fred

    2006/05/24 at 12:54 pm

    we use “junk” and “no-no” respectivley.. for some reason i think we could have come up with better names.

    there is a video called “once upon a potty” that worked in the potty training of my boy.. because it actually reffered to penis and vagina…. but he finds junk and no-no way more fun to say.

  • Jannie Funster

    2006/05/24 at 12:56 pm

    Ahh, one day they sit on the potty for the first time and before you know it they’re in panties and getting their first wedgie. Where does the time go?

  • katem9579

    2006/05/24 at 12:54 pm

    G is also the same exact age as Leta and is learning. We arent really teaching just letting her do it wen she is ready. She comes with me every time I go potty and she sits on hers right next to me well except she never pulls her clothes down just sits there. By the way I think Bunky is fine. G knows hers as a toot and its all cute until she kept going up to everyone grabbing thiers going toot-toot. Sigh.

  • TheGirlWho

    2006/05/24 at 12:54 pm

    I am so thoroughly confused now.. my mom’s euphemism for penis is bucky.. I’m kind of digging Bucky for penis, Bunky for vagina.. they kind of go together. Sounds like one of those yuppie couples who went to Yale or Brown and played lacrosse and pledged sororities..

    Anyhow, I like bunky.. it’s kicky. Like a vagina with a sassy little beret.


  • blurb

    2006/05/24 at 12:18 pm

    Just researching clogs via WiFi. Is that so wrong?

  • Nils Ling

    2006/05/24 at 12:20 pm

    Oh, Bucky will be sooooo thrilled. You just KNOW it.

  • >^..^<

    2006/05/24 at 12:21 pm

    That picture is ADORABLE!!

  • Jen

    2006/05/24 at 12:22 pm

    Who names someone Bunky??? Fortunately, she is off the binky. That would be weird.

    Our potty (same one Leta has) sat in our family room for many months, also used as a mini-recliner. Congrats. Toddlerhood is a long strange trip.

  • Nils Ling

    2006/05/24 at 12:23 pm

    When my daughter was young, she had a rhyme one of her (obviously) male cousins had taught her, going like “Bang bang, you’re dead, fifty bullets in your head”, then “Bang bang, you’re dumb, 50 bullets in your bum”. Didn’t she save up till my grandmother came over before trotting out “Bang, bang, you’re from Regina …”

  • bee

    2006/05/24 at 12:23 pm

    cracking me up….

  • cora

    2006/05/24 at 12:23 pm

    My favorite nickname for a vagine in Vuh-Jay-Jay. My teacher friend learned it from a sixth grader.

  • William

    2006/05/24 at 12:24 pm

    Bucky 4 eyes will be thrilled. And for some reason a “Ball Breaking Bunky” sounds like it could hurt.

  • Bucky Four-Eyes

    2006/05/24 at 12:24 pm

    So, I’m a vagina now, am I?

    I could make a very, very inappropriate comment about “you are what you eat” but I think I’ll just keep my bunky shut right now.

  • Nils Ling

    2006/05/24 at 12:27 pm

    Bucky’s bunky is shut? Wow. Anybody else feel the gravitational disturbance?

  • Bess

    2006/05/24 at 12:27 pm

    Isn’t it funny how you can call your bits just about anything and it seems to work? I like bunky — it’s cute but not over-the-top-cute. I also like Supreme Chancellor.

  • Jenn

    2006/05/24 at 12:27 pm

    Word of advice from a sage mom who is a whole month ahead of you in the potty training process (please note sarcasm)ditch the trainer potty ASAP and go straight to the “big girl potty” – cleaning the “recliner” sux sweaty goat balls. We have the same portable potty and that little handy cup inside just screams “2 year old, pick me up and DUMP ME ON THE FLOOR, but wait…not until I’m full of pee pee.”

  • Bekah

    2006/05/24 at 12:29 pm

    Great post, but where in the world did you get “bunky” from? That’s not even closely related to word “vagina”! At least “Snuffleupagus” makes sense (it creates quite a visual, too).

  • Steph And The City

    2006/05/24 at 12:30 pm

    Supreme Chancellor Palpatine – that’s the best!

    My mom tried to teach us correct names for parts but my sister couldn’t say vagina and called it “China” instead. We still can’t talk about China – whether country or teacups – without giggling. So I would say good call on “bunky.”

    Good luck with all your potty adventures!

  • ktjane

    2006/05/24 at 12:30 pm

    very cute! did leta get a haircut?

  • William

    2006/05/24 at 12:31 pm

    Of course “Snuffleupagus” leads me to ask is Jon that Hairy?

  • Claudia

    2006/05/24 at 12:32 pm

    My nephew LOVED his potty seat when he was learning. He would watch TV in it, sleep near it, and is now very excited to show his little brother just what you do with a potty. There are several photos of him sitting wearing nothing but a t-shirt and too large of cowboy boots while watching Thomas the Tank Engine. And he’s rather odd – he likes calling his boy-parts his “penis”. 😉

1 2 3 5

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.

read more