How do you refer to your genitalia? Not the greatest opening gambit I’ll grant you, but hey I’m not trying to chat you up here. If I were trying to chat you up then you’d be forgiven for wanting to back away slowly before scanning the room for either my carer or a policeman. Deciding on the word or words with which to refer to genitalia can be tricky for parents. When I was a child, Peter or Mary were commonly used since neither of my parents had the ability to say the words penis or vagina due to an affliction commonly known as acute embarrassment.
Strictly speaking, vulva is the word for [external] female genitalia but euphemisms can range from the twee (lady garden, mary, flower, fairy) to the unsavoury which I won’t bother listing here. Similarly penis, willy, dick, noodle and so on.
We decided to be as open and straightforward as possible with our children so we never attempt to hide our bits from them and use the words vagina and penis respectively. Despite our efforts naturally the little darlings have their own words to supplement the ‘proper’ words so Carwyn’s penis is a ‘peanut’.
Eleri on the other hand has evolved her own unique word – London. I’m guessing this is a new one on you too! Let me explain…
We had already given Carwyn the word vagina once he’d noticed his younger sibling didn’t own a peanut like him so once she started to talk and ask questions we taught her the same word. Her first attempts came out as ‘gina’ (sounds like vagina without the ‘va’) which was fine by us.
During her next nappy change Eleri was happily instructing me to make sure that both her bottom and her ‘China’ was wiped. Not a million miles from ‘gina’ and Eleri was evidently proud that she had learned another word so we felt there was little reason to correct her providing we continued to use the ‘correct’ word.
The next morning Eleri came wandering into our bedroom to provide her daily early morning call service. She was carrying a new nappy and informed us that she had done a wee and will we clean her bottom and London. “London? What’s a London Eleri?” we enquired. She sighed, gave us a withering look and pointed at her crotch. “London!”.
The penny finally dropped. She’d forgotten the word she’s learned yesterday but remembered that is was a place. Vagina – Gina – China – London. At this point we learned a crucial lesson. Never, ever, laugh at something a child says unless you want that something repeated ad nauseum. Sigh.