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How to Teach Kids About Their Privates

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When it comes to pee-pees and hoo-has, some parents get all fired up about when we should teach our kids about their... um... "down there" privates, and what to call them.

In one corner, you have the Avoiders, who would prefer their kids learned about their nether-parts sometime after college; these parents often use words like "dingle" and "nether-parts" instead of whatever those ding dongs and whippersnappers are really called.

In the other corner, you have the Informers, who start discussing sexuality with their children in utero using terms that even I, an adult by most standards, barely understand without a medical dictionary (or without giggling).

With my kids, I've pretty much played this issue by ear, which most of you probably know is parenting code for "I ignore it until I absolutely can't ignore it anymore, then I continue to ignore it for a couple more days while I decide what to do, except I forget until it comes up again and I have to stall some more because I was caught off-guard and quite frankly, just don't want to think about it."

After 11 years of use, this system was still working great -- sort of.

Our 2-year-old likes to follow us everywhere, including to the bathroom. For a long time, she didn't really show any interest in what I was doing in there; she just wanted to hang out and discuss Polly Pockets until I was finished.

That was fine, until one day when I was on my "lady time" (or whatever you want to call it), and the extra few seconds of bathroom-related commotion caught Madeline's attention. She tilted her head to one side, eyes widening, and came to this obvious conclusion, which she then proceeded to announce to everyone who would listen:

"MOMMY PUT PAPER TOWELS IN HER FRONT BUNS!"

This was our first clue that somebody was going to have to talk to the girl about what was going on in people's, um, pants-ular areas. But... meh. There was plenty of time.

Until there wasn't.

Not too long after that, Madeline waltzed into the bathroom while my husband was in there. Although she didn't actually see anything, she suddenly noticed a...shape in the front of Daddy's pants. A shape she'd never noticed before, but one she thought she recognized.

"Daddy? What dat? Dat right there? DADDY, WHY YOU HAVE POOP IN YOUR PANTS?"

*giggles*

With this level of confusion, even I couldn't justify putting it off any longer. My husband and I, being super mature grown-ups, decided we would tell her the Real Technical Terms for people's crotch parts. We didn't get too crazy with it -- I vow I'll go to my grave without uttering the word (whispers) genitals in front of my children -- so we simply explained that daddies have a penis and mommies have a vagina, that boys and girls are a little different, but everyone keeps those parts covered up because they're private.

However, like every toddler, the girl enjoys repetition. Or maybe it was because my super-mature spouse and I were laughing pretty hard at this point, but whatever the reason, we continued to discuss it.

"What you sayed?"

We said it again.

"Daddy, you have a... What you sayed?"

Paying some sort of karmic price for avoiding those words for so long, we said them again.

With a look of sudden understanding, my daughter announced, "Oh, Mommy has a vageenus! Wait... what you sayed?"

Whichever one of was was laughing in a less obvious way said it again. She almost grasped it this time.

"So, Daddy has a penis, and Mommy has... a Mommy peanuts!"

Closer.

"MOMMY HAS PEANUT BUNS!"

Not even hiding the uncontrollable laughter anymore.

So that's why, instead of my daughter learning the actual medical terms for her body parts, I now use the term peanut buns. And frankly, I think that's a much better term than hoo-ha (or whatever it's called) anyway.

This piece originally appeared on Hollow Tree Ventures.

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