Monday, July 11, 2011

On wedgies, and speaking candidly

The problem began with E's underpants yesterday. Her unders are always a little loose because she wears them a size too big because she despises restrictive clothing. So after some heated belly-dance maneuvering (she's been doing ExerciseTV with me) (it should be clear that that's her idea, not mine, right?) (because I had picked the yoga channel) (but nobody wears sequins during yoga) (so it's boring and unfancy, duh) her loose unders had crawled up in, a bit, you know? And because she was giggly and happy I made the scatological mistake of teaching her a word:

"that's called a wedgie."

And much laughter ensued.

Today was the kind of DC-in-July humid afternoon where, when I followed my children out into the backyard with my camera, I came right back in to set my camera down. The lens fogged too quickly for me to snap any shots.  That didn't stop my native-borns from playing enthusiastically, though, and when they came inside, they all stripped to their unders (or, in one case, to his diaper). They had sweated right through their clothes.

The girls relaxed with a little TV from the couch while I prepared dinner in the kitchen. L called to me:

Mama! Come see! My tushie is hanging out!

Me: "It is? Why? Are you okay?"

Because you think it's funny. Come see!

Oh, dear. Except, whatever you're thinking, it's worse, because that child forgets that tushie = backside, and really she was flashing me her right labium. Which, you know, child nudity is pretty common in the noteverstill house but she had purposely untucked half her vulva from her undergarments for my amusement.

Oh, this post is a winner already, isn't it?

So I said (for the thousandth time), "child, this is your tushie" and I patted her tushie. "That is your vagina."

(Yes, I know the vagina lives on the inside. But if you were there two or three years ago, when E yelled loudly in front of daycare (and remember everything said in front of daycare is said in front of a half-dozen of my coworkers, minimum) as a boxy, navy station wagon belonging to a high-ranking supervisor drove by, Look, Mama, a Vulva! you would agree that decision made right then to switch up the terminology in our home, and be okay with it. So we call it vagina. Or pachina. Whatever.)

L's face grew serious. Mama? Where does my tushie stop and my pachina begin?

E suddenly was watching intently, too. I started to point, but I realized it wasn't specific enough for her understanding. I had to touch, and so first I gave a little speech.

"Okay, loves, listen. Your vagina is private and a grownup should only be touching it if you tell them it's okay to touch, and that grownup should be mommy or daddy or maybe a teacher, or a doctor, and nobody ever touches it without your permission because this is a private part of your body, okay?"

They nodded.

"And your nipples, too. Because nipples grow into breasts one day, and those are also private."

They nodded again. And then I realized I had to give a whole lesson, and not walk away from this opportunity just because it would have been the far easier thing to do.

"So nobody is ever allowed to touch these private parts without your permission, and no other kid should ever be touching them at all."

Not even big kids?

"Not even big kids. Especially not big kids. Not anybody who isn't mommy or daddy or your doctor or one of your regular teachers, and not ever unless you give permission first."

"And this part is important: the love and trust you have with Mommy and Daddy is stronger than anything. So nobody can ever tell you that you're not allowed to tell us something, okay? Even if somebody tells you that something is a secret and you can't tell us, you can always, always tell us. And even if they say something bad might happen if you tell us, don't believe them, because they're being bad guys, because we love you and you can always tell us. They're just trying bad guy tricks on you. So nobody can ever touch you without your permission, and if they do, you can always tell us, because they're being a bad guy."

They nodded, and asked a thousand questions about bad guys. And nipples. Like: why does Daddy have them? And after I was positive that they understood that nobody should ever be touching them, I answered the genital-equator question.

So. Whew. But these are the things we have to talk about, right? I hadn't planned on doing so, but such an opportunity might not present itself again.

But Mama?

"Yes, love?"

When we're grownups can we let other people touch our pachinas?

"If you want to, love."

We'll discuss that part later.

PS- A vocabulary lesson: in my very sophisticated elementary school crowd, a front wedgie such as L had given herself was called a Melvin. I told you this post was a winner. Pin It