A Naming of Parts

This is a guest post from Mairi Campbell Jack; a poet who lives in Edinburgh with her daughter and blogs poetry at www.alumpinthethroat.wordpress.com and tweets @lumpinthethroat

One of the strange things to observe in babies is them discovering themselves.  It starts with them realising their physical boundaries, and ends, well… for most of us it never stops really.  I can tell you exactly where it starts though, the hands.  At some point a baby will realise that they have hands and then spend several days, or sometimes weeks, just waving its little fist back and forth in front of its face, utterly amazed.  I do wonder what goes through their heads, and if it is the first time really that we experience a sense of power.

It doesn’t stop there, it moves onto toes and other things.  My daughter, I think finished discovering her body this spring.  After a lovely day with a friend at the Botanics we came back to the flat for tea.  Her preference at home is to be semi-naked so she promptly stripped off.  She then sat on the couch, legs wide apart, pointed at her vagina and said “Mummy, what’s that?”

It was, I imagine a bit like dying – my life didn’t flash in front of my eyes – but rather my mind very quickly scrolled through every word I had ever heard for vagina, several chapters of The Whole Woman,  and that bit from The Vagina Monologues with the frog naming ceremony.  What do I tell her? Do I go down the route of euphemism and say “That’s your flower”.  It very clearly isn’t a flower, it’s a human body part.  Do I ignore the difficult question altogether and set an example of the human body as being something that shouldn’t be discussed and is something to be ashamed of.   In the end I plumped for saying “It’s your vagina.  Now, we do have guests, could you put your pants on please.”

My daughters reaction?

“Can I see yours?”

4 responses

  1. Howling with laughter at this. Reminds me of the story my best friend once told me about when she was little. Apparently she was about 3 and was on a train. It being a hot day, she decided to take her pants off (apparently that would cool her down) and then began flapping her legs open and closed shouting to her mum sitting oppositte, “Mummy, can you see my vagina?” She’s now 27 and has been haunted by that story ever since.

  2. ROFLMAO – hilarious! Fortunately, we haven’t quite got to the stage where Xan strips off, but he does know all the body parts and the differences between girls and boys (boys and men have a winky, girls and ladies have a foof / boys and men have nubbins, women have boobles – he names them al lhimself – LOL!).

  3. Thanks guys – it is a tale (or tail, as my daughter sometimes calls her vagina) that will be retold time and time again. And to make it even more humiliating, I’ve made sure its on the internet forever. Mwa, ha ha!

  4. Pingback: When does the right to privacy start? | Sex Positive Parenting

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