All the books say we’re supposed to be talking to Anna pretty much constantly while we’re awake. There are studies showing that the more words we use now, the faster she’ll learn to talk and the bigger her vocabulary will be. So I carry her around everywhere I go, and we have these totally ridiculous, overly enthusiastic conversations. Transcript from last night: “This is chard I’m making for dinner! With purple stems, purple! Now I’m putting it in a strainer and turning on the tap! And now I’m washing it! Washing the chard! Look at the water, Anna! You like water!” etc., etc. And Anna stares at me blankly with her utterly appropriate, “You are certifiably insane, man…” look.
Sometimes to shake things up I’ll copy her attempts at vocalization, trying to make her feel like I’m listening and respect all she has to say. It sounds like a ten minute conversation between barnyard animals:
And then, afraid she’ll start thinking guttural vowel sounds are real vocabulary, I’ll try making actual words out of the babble:
Me: Eeeeeahhhllipse! Is that what you were trying to tell me? An ellipse! Is a smooth closed curve that’s symmetric through both its horizontal and vertical axes!
And so on, until we both get bored.
But this constant describing of what I’m doing has, over the past few weeks, brought up an issue that will need to be resolved in the relatively near future. Namely, what do we call her Hmmm-hmmm? This issue comes up every night when I bathe her: “Now we’re washing your aaaarm, your right aaaarm, your haaaaand, now your behhhllleeee, look at your round behhhllleeeee! And down to your, um, um…! Um and now let’s move to your lehhhhhg…”
What do we call it? Her vagina? My baby girl, she doesn’t have a vagina! I mean okay, sure she does, but it’s not something I really want to think about at this point. And plus, it’s not her actual vagina we’re washing, it’s her vulva, the whole area, which sounds so stupidly clinical. Can you imagine a toddler talking about her vulva? (With boys it’s just so much easier, a penis is a penis is a penis.) (And lets take bets now that I’ve used the term penis four times in this post, on how many porn spams I’m going to get.)
So…I’m stuck calling it her “um.” But I’m going to have to figure this out within the next couple of months, once she moves past the mastery of vowel sounds. Is it her pee-pee? Her privates? Her cootchie? I’ve heard toddlers calling it their “cookie,” which is kind of cute, but I’d imagine that would lead to all kinds of association issues later on in life. (I want a cookie! She tossed her cookies! There’s peanut butter in my cookie! Do you want to eat a cookie?)
I mean when the time comes, sure we’ll discuss the technical terms. I’ll teach her she has a vagina (but ohlordno, what about the clitoris? Do you have to teach girls that they have a clitoris?) (Hi spammers!) But we need a term to use casually, when talking about wiping and washing. So okay, give me some advice here. What did you call it growing up? For those of you who’ve procreated, what do you teach your kids? Please discuss…