I was a bit "sheltered" growing up. I think that's the right word. I lacked a certain "education" about the ways of human nature, the birds and the bees, and what-not. Perhaps this had something to do with being a child of the mid-seventies. Perhaps this had something to do with my mornings in Catholic mass and days of Catholic school education. Perhaps this had something to do with my parents not being entirely comfortable talking about "private parts" and the likes. Perhaps I was the one who would die of embarrassment if/when my parents attempted a serious conversation about such matters, therefore my parents gave up trying. I don't know ... which came first the chicken or the egg? It's that kind of predicament, right?
Anyway, here's what I can tell you about my (previously) limited knowledge of all things "sexual." A girl's part was referred to as a pookie bear. A boy's part was called a winkie. That's right, folks, you read me correctly. I don't think I was exposed to the "real" words (slang-excepted because I did go to public middle school) until I was in my high school health class. I took health as a senior, by the way. I was the only senior in the class. Why? Because I thought I could escape that graduation requirement; that's how much I dreaded the thought of learning about the nether-regions. Sadly, my guidance counselor caught that little "oversight" and made sure my schedule allowed for the health class ... my senior year. Delightful! So I learned the proper names of both the male and female anatomy at the tender age of 18 while surrounded by the most immature group of freshman ever to grace my high school.
Still don't believe just how naive I was? Here's another little tale - at my expense - to further demonstrate the vastness of my cluelessness. I remember this so vividly. As a sixteen year old, I was reading magazines in the bedroom of my dear friend, Sarah Lou. She is 5 years older than me, and I counted on her to answer some of my embarrassing questions. On this particular evening, I asked her ... "Is oral sex when two people talk about sex with each other?" She looked at me with a combination of shock, amusement, and pity. Before she could even answer, I quickly added some insight into how I came to this conclusion (all by myself). I said, "Well, in English class we have oral exercises. The teacher calls on us to answer aloud. So it's like we're talking about whatever it is we're learning." Yes, I made a huge leap from oral exercises in English class to oral sex. Impressive, I know! Sarah Lou did her best to explain my error, as tactfully as possible - probably not an easy feat considering she too was a good Catholic girl!
Phew. That's the back-story. Now, onto the story. This story involves - like most things in my current life - Natalie.
If you read the Co-ed Bath & Private Parts post, you know that Natalie has become more aware of her own private parts as well as those of her male counterparts. She clearly sees a difference, and she wants to learn more. Who can blame her right? Upon our return from Denver (and the now blog-worthy bath scene), Natalie continued to point and say, "parts" whenever I changed her diaper or put her in the tub. The word pookie bear rattled around my head. I probably even had it on the tip of my tongue a few times. But when the word finally broke free, I said, "That's Natalie's vagina." Can you believe it?! How scandalous. I used the actual, medical term for that particular body part, just as I had for all the other body parts I've taught her. She gave the word a try in her own little voice and repeated, "Geyena." Yep, that sounded about right to me. I didn't even blush :) After a moment of pause - for a little almost-2 contemplation - Natalie said, "Emmett parts." Oh, geez, was I ready for this one? I took a deep breath and said, "Boys, like Emmett, don't have a vagina. They have a
wink ... penis." "Penis," she was almost too quick to repeat.
Speaking of repeat, Natalie did repeat this new bit of knowledge ... in front of her Grammy, the original creator of the terms pookie bear and winkie. Boy, did Grammy blush a few shade of pink ... and give me a look that said, "Where in the world did she learn those words?!"
From her very own sheltered, sweet, innocent, naive momma ... you know, the one who pushed that baby girl out of her vagina? I think that's pretty much how I explained it :)
Here's what I figure. If, down the road, Natalie decides to give her vagina it's own special - less clinical - name (like pookie bear or chottie), then so be it. But for now, I am sticking with the "real" words for all body parts ... until we start getting into more specifics ... I know for a fact that I am not even remotely prepared to say clitoris in front of my daughter ... or anyone else for that matter ... I can't believe I just typed that word!
P.S. As long as we're talking about vaginas ... please keep my good friend Laurie in your thoughts. Perhaps you remember that she recently gave birth to her second 9+ pound baby. Well, as a result, on Friday she has her first physical therapy session ... for her vagina. I cannot wait to find out what is involved in physical therapy for one's vagina. (Sorry, L, I couldn't resist ... )