She coloured quietly at her easel while Brian and I talked, wisps of red and purple going across her page, shapes forming.
My daughter exclaimed, out of the blue.
“Pardon?” What was she talking about?
“You know, penis.”
She looked up at us and stopped colouring, “but we can’t say penis, it’s a bad word.”
I could feel my heart rate go up, my eyes bug out, my hands go flat on the counter. I had so many questions.
Where did she hear that penis was a bad word? Why did she think that? How do I handle this? Do I handle this? Who handles this? Is this a thing?
It was a thing to me.
I peeled my hands from the counter and looked at her.
This was a teachable moment, one that I wasn’t going to let go because she is at an age where everything makes an impression on her. Words, sounds, music, play. It all shapes who she is.
I explained that penis was not a bad word, it was THE WORD.
I told her that was the word we use and that some people use other words.
But stressed it was not a bad word.
Because the word penis is not bad or scary or icky or inappropriate.
It’s the word.
In our house we use the proper terms, talk about our bodies, and are honest about them.
There are so many reasons for this.
I want her to be able to identify the words with her body parts as she gets older, I want her to understand her body as it changes, I want her to know what things are called so she can ask questions, and if anything should ever happen, GOD FORBID, I want her to be able to identify her body parts.
And children should not be made to feel uncomfortable for using the right words.
Penis is not a bad word.
Vagina is not a bad word.
Breasts…. not a bad word.
They are part of your body.
Own those words.
Hopefully the more comfortable we become with our bodies the more our children will be with theirs.
And that might just start by calling our body parts by the correct names.