I received an advanced reading copy of this book and am voluntarily reviewing it.
Calling a Spade a Spade
I grew up in a household where girl parts were called vaginas, boy parts were called penises and pooping was called a bowel movement. My parents believed in calling a spade a spade. There was no mystical voodoo surrounding these perfectly natural parts of life.
Imagine my surprise when I met and married my husband, only to learn these ordinary words were taboo to him. In his puritanical Victorian thinking, girl parts were girl parts, boy parts were boy parts, and pooping was ding ding. No, I’m not kidding.
When we had children, I was unyielding that our daughters learn the proper terms for both body parts and functions. He was equally adamant they hear some watered-down version of the truth. After much heated discussion, I finally agreed to let him have his way, but only while the girls were very young. As questions arose and curiosity developed, I vowed to arm them with the correct scientific words. A sort of truce was called.
During the potty-training years, Margery came up with her own terminology. She pottied out of her front door and pooped out of her back door. This jargon stuck in our household. I recently had a discussion with both girls where I introduced the correct terms for their female bits. Both were pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. They didn’t have any questions so we seamlessly moved on to watching a show on the mating rituals of seahorses.
I hope to always be open and honest with my children, even if they venture into uncomfortable territory. From my recollection, seventh grade seemed to be the age I hit my mom with all kinds of forthright queries. For instance at the lunch table, the boys began throwing around the word, “dildo,” like it was the best word they’d ever heard.
When I got home from school one day, I asked my mom what a dildo was. Without a blink, raised eyebrow, or demand to know where I’d heard such a filthy word, she seamlessly responded, “A dildo is a fake penis, honey.”
Wow, awkward. I dropped the subject right then and there.
While I wanted to know more, like, what in the heck do you do with a fake penis? Who thought up such a crazy idea? And where in the world would you buy something like this? It felt like a change of subject was the best course of action. Not too long afterwards, I asked her about the word douche.
It seemed when the boys weren’t calling each other dildos, they were busy referring to each other as douches. My mom’s explanation that a douche was a female hygiene product, did very little to enlighten me on the reason this term was being bandied about so often and apparently, incorrectly.
A couple months later, I inquired what it felt like to have an orgasm. My mom thought for a minute before responding, “It’s like having an itch and getting it good and scratched.” Needless to say, I scratched my arm bloody that year and just didn’t get what the big deal was.
I hope I can be as cool and informative as my mom was. I mean, no one wants to talk to their children about this stuff, but what an honor if your kids are comfortable enough with you to ask you anything.
Margery and Hope’s cousin, Nikki, introduced them to the word “wiener” last summer. OMG, they took to it with such wild abandon I had to threaten them daily with, “If I hear the word wiener one more time, I’m going to take away sweets for the entire summer! NO MORE WIENERS!”
Then the son of one of my friends lost his swimming trunks at the pool. This was the girls’ first sight of a boy’s business and a slew of conversation ensued. Margery demanded to know why that “little bit of stuff” on the front of a boy was called a wiener.
She insisted on knowing where the term came from. I did my best to explain.
I’m not looking forward to all the uncomfortable dialogue ahead, but I darn well plan on having it. After all, nothing can be as bad as the summer of the wiener.