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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dally Wallys, Foo-Foos and Smitzees - Who Needs 'Em?

Written by Kath, a mom without a blog

A little warning today everyone….I’ve dug into the depths of my closet and pulled out the old soapbox. I’ve dusted it off and I’m climbing on top for a good, old-fashioned rant. Be forewarned, this may not be pretty. But I’ve got something to get off my chest, so here goes….

From the moment we become parents, our lives are forever changed. In addition to taking on the responsibility that parenthood entails, we also become our child’s first teacher. As soon as we bring that little one home, the teaching begins. We start with in-depth descriptions of the day’s events.

“I’m changing your diaper now.”

“Where’s Mama?”

“Let’s bundle you to keep you warm.”

You get the idea. Our little ones arrive half-baked, really. This grandiose world is completely and universally new. It’s our job to teach our precious ones the ropes.

We sing the ABCs, name colors, introduce family members, teach animals, and teach those all-important animal sounds. Oh yeah, and teach body parts.

I remember back when my first-born was so small. For entertainment, my husband and I would sit him down in front of us and ask him to point to his various body parts.

Us: “Where’s your eye? Where’s your eye?”

B: Points to eye and nearly pokes eye out with index finger. (Cries wildly in pain).

Us: (Clapping like mad) “YES!! YES!! That’s it!!” Our boy was a freakin’ genius, man!

You know, maybe my husband and I should have sprung for a baby sitter instead. 

But I digress…

Time goes by and that toddler/preschooler notices some OTHER body parts. Maybe it’s in the tub. Maybe a new sibling has come along by then and has “different” parts. That’s when, my friends, it happens.

“Mama? What’s THAT?”

And, very likely, beads of sweat break out on our forehead, our hearts begin to race, and (feeling a little dizzy) we blurt out….something.

“That’s Mr. Winky, honey.”

“That’s your foo-foo.”

“That’s a smitzee.”

“Well, that’s your hoo-ha, of course!”

Because we just can’t bring ourselves to call it what it is. A penis. A vagina. The words are frankly too vulgar sounding to come out of our little cherub’s mouth. So, we make something up that sounds, well, “cutesy.”

But why? WHY do we do this? Are we afraid that the next time we’re at the park, our child will run around screaming, “Vagina! Vagina!!” at the top of their lungs? Did your child scream, “Elbow! Elbow!!” when he learned that word, too?

And so what if they did? That’s when we, as parents, have a brief chat explaining that some body parts are “private” and we don’t go around yelling about them. A preschooler is not too young to learn about those private areas. Trust me; they’re not looking for a detailed explanation about how that part works. They really just want the name of it. So, I say, let’s give it to them.

Case in point. I’m a pediatric nurse at a busy outpatient clinic. Recently, a 4 year-old girl came in screaming in pain. As I try to assess her, I ask her where it hurts.

Child: “My dally wally hurts!”

Huh? You’ve got to be kidding me.

That 4 year-old stared at me and I stared back, neither one of us knowing what to say next.

That’s when I shot her mom a “for Pete’s sake help me out here” look. Turned out the little girl had a sore on her labia. Go figure.

Or, picture this. Your 5 year-old son is in kindergarten. While urinating in the bathroom, he sees another boy watching him. He might say, “Stop looking at my noodle.” How’s he going to feel when that other kid says, “Dude, that’s not your noodle, that’s a penis”? I’ll tell you how he’s going to feel. Duped. Betrayed. That’s how.

Listen, I’m not saying we should start sexually explicit dialogue with our kids or anything like that. I’m just sayin’ hey, let’s call it what it is. A vagina is a vagina and a penis is a penis. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, folks.

Okay, I’m stepping down from the soapbox. I started getting a little dizzy from the height. Good to be back down to earth. I’ll leave you all with a conversation I had with my 4 year-old daughter as I was showering her the other night. (She, for the record, is currently obsessed with her body parts).

N: (Pointing to her chest) “Mom, what are these?”

Me: “Those are your breasts, honey.”

N: “No, not THOSE. These.”

Me: “Those are your nipples.”

N: “My nipples? Hmmm…”


N: “Mom?”

Me: “What, honey?”

N: “I just love my nipples. They look like little pancakes.”

Yep, pancakes are her favorite food.


  1. I couldn't agree more! We read The Bare Naked Book about bodies to our toddler often because she loves it so much. And they use the words nipples, penis, and vagina. It's very clear and easy. I think it's the simplest and most honest approach to take.

    I like your post and writing style a lot!

  2. LOL! Youngest calls his nipples "boo boos" - and really, on men, they are just boo boos - no purpose, like an appendix.

    We're pretty good at anatomy around here as well. Just last night, while watching "Wipeout" Hubs taught the 3-year-old "he got hit in the nuts."

    Parrot 3-year-old: "hit in de NUTS!"

    Exellent darling. So excellent.

  3. I never taught my children those goofy pseudonyms which was clearly obvious when my then 3 year old daughter walked around a museum informing everyone that she had a vagina and her brother had a penis. In a sing-song manner.

    Thinking about that though, I guess that was a whole lot less embarrassing than hoo-ha and noodle. Though noodle does kind of make sense.

  4. Seriously! I think it all goes back to the shame that surrounds sex in the country. People should not be embarrassed to teach their children the true names for body parts just because those body parts play a role in sexual intercourse.

  5. for the record, my 15 y.o. DOES run around screaming vagina, vagina. HOWEVER, i can safely say that it isn't a direct result of my teaching him the actual names for all (ALL) of his body parts when he was a child.

    and might i add, you look FABULOUS up that dusty soap box of yours. hope we get to see you on it again soon!

  6. this was a fabulous post! I totally agree. I am a RN myself and my children know and will know the correct names of their body parts. Even if it means that they scream "My Penis, My Penis What are you squishing my penis?" in the store.

  7. I have always used the correct names for body parts. Now that my kids are older though, for fun, I'll throw in a slang word for penis (I have three boys) and they CRACK UP!

  8. {thwack on the forehead} You mean it's not called my ya-ya and my hubby's weenis ?? Oh crap-

  9. Im pretty PC here and use the real terms. We only digress when my 3 year old calls my vagina a HAIRY. nice.

  10. I have always thought that bing straight and honest with the kids is how you are supposed to be. Ilike to be honest.

  11. Great post Kath. It has stirred up quite the conversation in our household.

    It sounds like most of the commenters are in for the real VAGINA and PENIS words.

    We are a little more moderate here. Are you saying those words should be used exclusively or are you for interchanging them with slang at all?

    In our house it's WHOO WHOO and HUDDER 95% of the time and vagina and penis the other 5.

  12. Why didn't I think of Smitzee? That is awesome.

    Okay - I think this all brings up a very fascinating discussion as to why so many people even use other words in the first place. It must be out of some true deep discomfort of saying penis and vagina? Is it nature or nurture? Is it because they believe there is something taboo about these body parts because they are used for sex? Seems so.

    In thinking about it I think that as parents we do have a responsibility to our kids not to shroud the subject in some sort of mystery. I just think being straightforward is the way to go. I'm not sure why it should be any other way. I wish more moms who use "names" or whatever would weigh in to express their point of view.

    I also think there is a difference if the kid thinks of the cutie name by him or herself as opposed to the parents giving the cutie names to the kids to use. That seems to be an interesting distinction. You know?


  13. I would say that if you feel strongly using the anatomically correct terms, then it doesn't matter if your kid comes up with it or you do. I do not see a distinction at all. Why would you start to use their pet name for it if you're a believer in the correct names and a definitive non-believer in the pet name theory? To me, that doesn't make sense. Just curious.

    Obviously, I'm in the minority of feeling fine using pet names even though my children know the correct names. It has nothing to do with sex as you mentioned above. I just prefer other names for it. Let's just say they're cuter. I have no deep discomfort using the words penis and vagina. I would just rather say "you could totally see her Nancy, Molly, Goodie, Who Who, or Smitzee" as opposed to saying "you could totally see her vagina." Am I out in left field here people?

    Just curious ... do your children know where their anus is?

  14. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I'm laughing at some of them pretty darn hard. Deb, I'm picturing your 15 year old son running around the house screaming, "Vagina! Vagina!!". Too dang funny!

    Swirl Girl...sorry to break the news to you about the "real" names of those parts! :-)

    Ames, thanks for your great comments, too. I fully expected more moms out there would disagree with me on this topic.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with having a cutesy "slang" word just as long as the child is taught the correct word at some point. I think that when we, as parents, invent a new name, it implies that there is something wrong with the proper name. It's that sense of secrecy or "taboo" vibe that I really don't agree with.

    I'd love to hear some more thoughts on this one...

  15. God Bless the Smitzee, the Dally Wally and of course, the noodle.

  16. Our daughter would always say, "daddy is dat your peanut?" I'm sure the PC thing to do would be correct her, but we just couldn't do it... "yup, sweetie, that's daddy's peanut." We figured it was close enough - is that wrong? Oh and I think she was seven when I finally taught her she had a vagina, not a "puh-gina." Still, close enough, right?


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