“Elbow is just too hard of a word for such a young child to say. I’ll teach him when he is older.”
“I can’t imagine my sweet little girl saying elbow.”
“Teaching kids to say things like elbow is so low class and inappropriate. Only uneducated people do that.”
“She is only 2. There is no reason to teach her to say elbow now. There is plenty of time for her to learn later.”
Does any of this sound silly or absurd to you? Me too. Now replace the word “elbow” in all of those sentences with the word “penis” or “vagina”. I hear or read those statements all the time. There are a great number of parents who have a massive fear of teaching their children the proper names for their body parts. The excuses are illogical and made worse by some of the names they choose to teach instead.
I have been told by a mother that penis is just to hard of a word for her young son to learn so she tells him it is something else (I was to stunned by the absurdity of this excuse to recall what she chose to call it). I have never heard anyone say this about any other word. If my child points to the recycling bin and asks what it is I don’t think, “Recycling bin may be hard for her to say. I’ll tell her it is called a weewah.” Who would do that? You tell them what it is called, wether they say it right or not, as that is how you teach them to speak properly.
Plenty of people can’t imagine their tiny child saying penis or vagina, especially belting it out in Target. Therefore they teach them a different term….something horrendous like button, flower, cookie, tenders, vajayjay (thanks a ton for THAT Oprah!), and my all time fave cooter. Yep, I had a mom inform me that she could not imagine her little girl saying vagina so she taught her to call it cooter instead. Right. Because THAT is better.
The idea that it is low class or uneducated to teach your children the proper terminology is so illogical I can’t fathom a response to it.
You know what, your kid just may say “My vagina itches.” in the shampoo aisle at Target. You know what else…I bet the majority of people who hear her have a vagina and sometimes it itches. This is not offensive or shocking or horrid. Pretty much everyone who hears it will stifle a giggle and smile at you. The ones who are appalled at it are the ones who also teach their kids to call them silly things.
Ultimately, I believe all of this secretive, code-word, silly-terminology, not-old-enough-to-know-the-real-word business comes down to one thing. Shame. There is a great multitude of adults out there who feel shame about their body, especially “private” parts. This shame is most likely handed down from generations before. This shame is being passed down to the younger generations by teaching them that the parts need special names and saying the real word is gross, inappropriate and has an age requirement.
How about we all just choose to act like the adults we are? How about we put an end to the shame (and for Pete’s sake, the term “vajayjay”)? How about we give our children the chance to know what all of their parts are called, wether elbow or penis, and to feel comfortable with that?
My name is Sonia and I have a vagina. My husband has a penis. All 4 of our daughters know these things, even the 2 year old.