Friday, December 16, 2011

Parenting Hurdle: Naming the Nether Regions

One of the most important jobs a parent has is to name their children's private parts.  This would be so much easier if I had a boy.  The truth is, I have no idea how to go about this.
Knowing that this job is so important, and knowing that the time to give them a name is right around the corner, I have actually tried to do some research on this topic.  Do you know what kind of results you get from Google when you search for naming your kid's private parts?  Not good ones.  I'm sure it is difficult for Google to sort through requests for porn and requests for nicknames of private parts.

I know that there are two schools of thought when teaching your child about private parts. The new school of thought says to teach your child the clinical terms "penis" and "vagina" so that there is no confusion about what they are or where they are located.  Don't mess around with nicknames because that only adds confusion if your child ever has to talk about that area.  Using the anatomical terms somehow lifts the veil of shame that has shrouded our genitalia for several thousand years.  Can you tell that I'm old school when it comes to this topic?

It's not that I think there is anything shameful about these parts of our bodies, I would just rather have my child yell that his "pokey itches" in a crowded restaurant than the alternative.  Plus, I believe that you can use nicknames and still teach your child the clinical name when they are old enough to handle it.

So, the challenge with the old school way is that you have to come up with a name that is a) not going to get your child teased and b) widespread enough that other people know what your child is talking about.  For example, if your child is at preschool, and he tells his teacher that his twizzler hurts because little Rebecca kicked it, the teacher may not immediately know that your child is talking about his little man parts, and therefore, cannot decide if you need to be called at work.  If your daughter tells her teacher that little Johnny touched her cookie, you would want the teacher to know that he didn't steal her snack.  I think it's probably best to avoid food terms altogether when naming genetalia.

What I'm trying to get at with this rant is that it is definitely easier to name a boy's part than a girl's parts.  Boy parts are just more fun to say...  Pokey, Willy, Bird, Thing, Pee Pee, Winky, Wee Wee, or even Hoodilly (which I'm certain I would never use).

Girl parts are more tricky. You don't want to give your daughter's parts a name that is dirty.  She's your innocent little girl!  My wife wants to go with va-jay (thanks, Oprah).  I'm strangely okay with that term since it is only a few steps away from the clinical term, so the eventual transition would be easy.  However, my concern is that it might be too casual.  I'm not sure I want my little girl being so casual about her private areas at such a young age.  If she starts off this casual, what will she do when she's a teenager?  I don't want to make a mistake that will affect her relationship with men for the rest of her life.

It's all so confusing, and I'm not afraid to admit that I could use some help.  What does your family do?  How did you decide?  How has it worked when yelled in a public setting?  Were there any embarrassing moments you don't mind telling us about?


  1. A lot of girls I knew growing up called it their Suzy or Virginia. But then what happens when if you have someone named Suzy or Virginia in your class? My mom definitely taught us the clinical over slang. However, that made it awkward when my brothers taught me the slang terms but gave them different definitions, like, normal everyday definitions. Instead of asking for a spoon, I asked for a...well...a very dirty word for vagina. A c-word.

    I used the term Chacha at one point, so I think I'd go with that.

  2. How about vulva? It's clinical and actually accurate, unlike vagina. It astounds me how many girls grow up thinking that their vagina is the entire area from pubis to anus. ASTOUNDING.

  3. One of my boys called his "Ding-a-Ling" (stealing from Chuck Berry) a "pee-noose." Close enough and the way he said it was simply adorable.

    As for me, I still struggle with women's parts!

  4. @Jessica - I seem to remember from NC that you were good a coming up with nicknames for "other" things. I specifically remember one involving Saran wrap and another involving a computer mouse. Never forget that show!

    @Luna - Wait, it's not?! Just kidding! I was actually reading an article, while doing my research for this post, that schools in the UK are now using "vulva" as standard language for that area on a female. I'm not sure if you asked a room full of 10 people if half would know the difference. Maybe it will catch on. Thanks for stopping by!

    @Bruce - Like he was going to hang people with it? Nice. It comes as no surprise that grown men struggle with women's parts. If you're like me, I never really got "the talk" from my parents. I learned everything I know from the back of the school bus and Human Anatomy class. So, if you were not a science geek like me, and you never took anatomy, you're still operating on bus stop definitions of things and whatever you have learned from experience. Scary.

  5. Hi All(not gender specific, good start)
    We have always used the word wee-wee but I have a house full of girls, 4 including the wife. It sort of says what it does and is age specific and is a whole lot easier to say for a toddler than vagina and seems to be socially acceptable.
    I now have a grandson so the term willy is getting a lot of use which is a bit unfair on my 23 year old nephew who is named William and has been the only Willy (dual meaning) in the family until recently.
    Sorry must dash I have to siphon the python.

  6. Thanks for stopping in Nigel. I never really thought of using wee-wee for a girl, but I guess it could work just as well. And Poor William!



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