My parents like to say that they always believed in telling us anatomically accurate names for things. There wasn't poop in the toilet, but feces. I didn't have to go potty - I had to go to the bathroom. I didn't pee. I urinated.
My Dad liked to tell the story of one time when my brother was very young and told my grandmother that he needed to go make urine from his penis. She was horrified! How could they teach him such words! My Dad said, he responded - what should he say? I have to make zee-zoo from zumba (or something like that). It's silly. He should use the right words. (Um, ok, maybe what he should have said was - I have to go to the bathroom... But then again, my Dad liked to exaggerate or hyperbolize, as he might prefer, so this story may be well, 100% accurate.)
Regardless, my parents were all about correct words. Except I didn't know what MY private parts were called until ... I don't know, when do you learn this stuff in biology? Probably Middle School or something. In fact, several years ago when I was reading The Vagina Monologues my Dad seemed to avoid using the book's title - till I finally called him out on it and he sort of mumbled the name. (I was probably 26.) I noted that they'd never taught me the proper word when my brother had learned penis and I think my Dad pointed out that you don't, in fact, urinate out of your vagina, so it's not the proper word. (After that I don't think any of could actually come up with what the proper word would be. Urinary tract?)
So now I'm the parent and the question of language has come up with my husband. Now I'm know that he is NOT in favor of teaching her vagina (apparently vulva is technically more accurate, but let's not REALLY confuse matters. I mean most adults wouldn't know what she was saying. OK, maybe it was just me...), but then comes the question of what to call the waste.
The thing is pee and poop seem so much more universal terms (i.e., not just used by kids) than when we were kids. Urinate or defecate/feces seem so... I don't know? Can a poop word be formal?
I was reading a little article on this this morning that suggested we shouldn't treat genitalia any differently than any other body part. You'd never come up with a cute kid name for your elbow, so why the penis or vagina?
Have I said vagina too many times in this post? Hmm... and this is probably why it's good I blog anonymously (Mom).
Then I read a really interesting (by which I mean kind of scary) comment on the article. It was from someone who worked with Child Protective Services. She suggested that God forbid a child is abused, if they don't know the appropriate words for body parts when they meet with the police, they may not explain what happened correctly and the case could be thrown out.
So that feels a little like an extreme scare tactic... And yet...
Ugh. Parenthood is hard (said in Barbie's "math is hard" voice).
What did you (or do you plan to) teach your kids? Any other thoughts on the subject?