I recently read a blog post about how important it is to teach toddlers about their body parts. Apparently, simply knowing the correct words for male and female genitals deters predators who know that these children will be more able to report being touched inappropriately.
Cut to me sweating profusely. My daughter is almost four, and unless ‘front hiney’ and ‘back hiney’ are the scientific words for the female anatomy, I think I might have failed here.
I took the recommendation from the article about a specific book geared toward small children called Amazing You! (by Dr. Gail Saltz) that teaches basics about private parts and reproduction.
I wanted to be one of those parents who was all ‘My kids can talk to me about ANYTHING’, but apparently, the truth is, they can talk to me about anything as long as it is not related to wieners and hoo hahs. In my pre-read, I confirmed that this book was LOADED with ALL the parts, leaving nothing out, but hey, that’s what I wanted right?
I quickly realized that I was not only unprepared, but unable (even with the help of a book) to effectively teach my daughter about private parts. After assessing my lacking skills, I was able to pinpoint several reasons for my ineptitude:
1. Time of Day Hinders Me – I put off reading the book for several days telling myself that it was never the right time of day. I mean, who wants to have that talk first thing in the morning? I at least need to have coffee before I bring up scrotums with a 3 year old girl, thank you. I usually read to them before nap and bedtime, so I figured that would work, but then I felt weird about sending my daughter off to bed with visions of labias dancing in her head. It was just never the right time.
2. Boy Parts Make Me Giggle – On my first read aloud with my daughter, I began to rush, knowing that my husband would soon be making his way down the hall to join us after tucking our son in. I was uncomfortable enough reading it to her, but there was no way I could keep it together with him in the room reading sentences like “Inside the sac under your penis are soft balls called testicles”. First of all, since when is the sacK just a sac? Where did the ‘K’ go? Was it ever there? Why does the lack of a ‘K’ make me want to laugh even more?
I had just finished with several pages of penis when I came to a page that had a baby, a small boy and a man all drawn anatomically correct and naked. My daughter points to one of the penis trifecta and says ‘nipple!’.
Me: No, it’s a penis. (please note that there was NO nipple talk in this entire book, so I have no idea where this was coming from)
Girl: Look at the little nipple!
Me: It’s a penis.
Girl: (her voice getting more delighted and pointing her finger at it) He’s got a little nipple!!
Me: (flipping back a page to the penis stuff and starting to laugh) Penis!
[Husband coming down the hall within earshot]
Girl: Nipple. Nipple. Nipple.
Me: (laughing now) Penis. Penis. Penis.
Husband: (looks in the room, walks over and sees penis illustration. Quickly exits forever.)
3. Girl Parts Gross Me Out – There are certain words in the English language that gross me out. I don’t like to say them and avoid them whenever possible. They make my throat close a little and I feel queasy. Stool, clot, nugget…you get the picture. A large portion of these gag words are parts of the female anatomy including uterus, womb, falopian etc.. Once she found out that the baby lives in there for 9 months, I was forced to repeat uterus 356 times in response to her questions. I thought it might desensitize me. I was wrong.
4. I Am Hostile When It Comes To Childbirth Questions – I didn’t have the worst childbirth experience, but it wasn’t great either. A 30 hour induced labor, ending in a not quite emergency c-section with some nasty follow up complications gave me a bad taste for birthing babies. The book explains it as follows:
“The baby will come out of the mother’s vagina, which is very, very stretchy. It stretches wide enough for the baby to come out and then goes back to the way it was before.”
I was at a loss for words. Since I had a c-section, I couldn’t speak to vajayjay elasticity, but I can assure you that nothing on your body is ‘like it was before’ after childbirth, including a vagina that has been stretched around the back of your head to allow for the alien to exit.
Luckily, while I can’t talk vagina very well with my preschooler, I can lie like a mofo. I backed up this load of crap convincingly. She looked in the direction of her junk and then cast me a shifty look as if to say ‘there’s no way in hell’, but we seemed to silently agree that it was just better to drop it for now.
5. I Live In Fear of Kitchen Table Testicle Talk (or KTTT) – I think my final failure centers around my inability to really embrace this topic and make it acceptable discussion anywhere other than during the book reading. I am haunted by the possibility of sperm, urethras, and penises rearing their ugly heads (pun totally intended) at the dinner table. More specifically I am horrified that my daughter will speak of them anywhere in public, or where my parents (specifically dad) might be present. Although a wonderful man and in very good health, one ill-timed ‘scrotum’ might be enough to end him.
Lets reflect on how I can improve: Going forward, I will stifle my laughter and gag reflex. I will cover the appropriate places to talk about birds and bees equipment. I’ll get into the truth about childbirth when she gets older. As far as time of day, I think I will try to stick with the bedtime schedule for reading the book. Right before we hit the sac.