Since becoming pregnant the first time, I have been the recipient of all sorts of daily/weekly updates as to how pregnancy or parenting should be going. Sometimes these things are interesting, sometimes not. More often than not these days, I just hit delete. Today, however, I got one that caught my eye. The subject line was “How do you talk to your toddler about private parts?” While Will and I have had several discussions about “big” parenting issues (education, religion, etc..), this has not been one of them. As I read that heading (particularly in conjunction with the word “toddler”), I figured this would be one I ought to investigate.
The article was fairly short and sweet and contained what you would expect: keep things short and sweet, don’t appear flustered or uncomfortable, and use “actual” terms rather than “cutesy” stuff. Boys have penises and girls have vaginas. I don’t like this advice personally, as those words are just not fun. Much of the slang simply sounds better while still getting the point across. However, I see the point of the authors: with too many terms for the same bits, it gets confusing.
But then I read on. This is where it got really disturbing and scary.
Not since I was researching and agonizing whether or not to have a c-section (with maybe a second runner up being the Obama-health care Supreme Court ruling) have I seen such a polarizing issue! I could only read the first page of member comments before becoming totally freaked out and repulsed. Many were quite benign on the surface, stating that using terms such as “pee pee” was ok, particularly when potty-training and trying to make those connections. Others disagreed ferociously, and even felt that “vagina” was quite incorrect – that little girls have “vulvas” (technically we have both but….). And connecting those things to potty training wasn’t enough. It was ok to go ahead and start making connections to where babies come from. This is where my head started screaming “Are you f’ing serious??” These are TODDLERS we’re talking about.
Others took the vagina-vulva debate even further. If little girls don’t know that a vulva is a vulva and a little boy asks to touch her vagina, she might think that’s ok. Others worried that if your child was sexually interfered with, it would make it difficult to describe to law enforcement what was done, precisely. A vulva and vagina are very different parts, indeed, in those cases. I had to quit reading at that point. As a mom, I have a really hard time hearing about any kid who is not treated with total love and care in whatever capacity. It’s hard not to let dark “what if” thoughts in sometimes when the news is on. But these people have taken this to a whole new arena. They need medication.
I still don’t know exactly what we’ll tell Stella. Will and I need to have this discussion to avoid any of the dreaded afore-mentioned part confusion. Fortunately in this case, the late talking may be buying us some time. She clearly is not one of the posters’ 18 month olds asking questions. For now, she has girl bits, as have I. We don’t seem to recognize that daddy’s bits are different, much less wonder what we do with these bits. I have already figured once I start showing, we can inform her there’s a baby in there and that mommy will go to the hospital where they’ll take it out, but that’s about where I’m prepared to leave that part of the discussion, belly, bits, and all.