Thoughts on Gender

Jan 21 2009

Ah, the age-old question.

Do I teach my children the real names for their private parts or do I give them cutesy alternatives so they don’t embarrass me in public?

With a 10, 9, and 7 year old already in the house, this question was moot before it was raised.  No Thingys or Po-Pos or Tutus for us.  Nope.  We have good ol’ pensises and vaginas around here, and 2 year old Cai and Cael know it.

They know it, and they like to announce it.  Particularly when they perceive someone is headed for the bathroom.  That’s the perfect time to announce, at top volume, whether the person in question has a penis or a gina.  This also, apparently, happens during diaper changing time at daycare.  Yay for equipping socially-inept toddlers with correct anatomy terms!

In an attempt to stop embarrassing my long-suffering mother-in-law, I’ve been lately trying to link this fabulous anatomy lesson with the terms “boy” and “girl.”  My ultimate goal is that, rather than saying (in age-appropriate repetitive fashion), “Daddy penis!  Daddy penis!  Daddy penis!  Daddy penis…” and so on, into infinity, until someone (anyone, please!) confirms, “Yes, Daddy has a penis and he’s going potty…”  they will begin to equate “penis” with “boy” and say, “Daddy is a boy!”

See my thinking?

That in mind, here’s the conversation I had this evening with Cai and Cael after I finished my potty trip to choruses of “Mommy gina!  Mommy gina!”:

Me:  Yes, Cai and Cael, Mommy has a vagina.  Mommy is a girl.  People with vaginas are called girls.  Can you say, “Mommy is a girl?”

Cael:  Mommy girl.  Mommy girl.

Me, triumphant:  Yes, Cael!  Mommy is a girl!  Cai, can you say, “Mommy is a girl?”

Cai:  Daddy penis!

Me, trying to be friendly and supportive:  Yes, Cai, Daddy has a penis, so Daddy’s a boy.  You have a penis so you’re a boy.  Cael’s a boy.  Can you say, “boy?”

Ian, piping up helpfully from the next room:  I’m a boy!

Me:  Yes, Ian’s a boy, too.

Cael:  Ian penis!  Ian penis!  Ian penis!

Me, beginning to sigh:  Yes, Cael.  Ian has a penis, so Ian’s a boy.  Let’s all say “boy.”

Cael:  Daddy penis!

Cai, chiming in:  Daddy penis!

Me, resigned:  Yes, Cai and Cael, Daddy has a penis.  He’s a bo…

Cael and Cai, interupting joyfully:  Yay!  Yay!  [Insert jumping up and down in excitement.]  Yay, Daddy, penis!

At this point, something of significance occured to Cael because he stopped rejoicing with Cai about their father’s maleness.  Cael’s recently been understanding terms like “wait a minute,” “be right back,” and “later.”

After a moment of thought, Cael turned to me very seriously and said, “Mommy gina.”

Me: Yes, Cael, Mommy has a vagina.  Mommy’s a girl.

Cael nodded, came to a conclusion, took my hand sympathetically and said:  It’s OK, Mommy.  Maybe penis later.