Suburban Snapshots

Vagina Vagina Vagina

Monday, May 02, 2011

I always knew I'd be the kind of mom who'd tell Anna the anatomical names for her body parts. I know there are other, cuter versions of words for female genitalia that make situations less awkward for parents with foresight who anticipate things like their naked daughter mooning her seventy-something grandparents while singing, "Coolie! Vagina! Coolie! Vagina!" But I want her to be proud of her junk and of her femaleness, though somehow I did not foresee the weeks of vagina parades, songs, and choreographed numbers I was setting myself — and anyone who happens to drop by the house — up for.

Anna doesn't spend as much time naked as she used to. In fact, now she painstakingly chooses every article of clothing she wears — a lengthy process involving negotiations, bribes, and reverse psychology. I'm all for individuality and autonomy in my preschooler, except when I have anything else planned that day. But the second she's pantsless, choruses of "Coolie-Vagina" fill the house from one end to the other. She works on her pitch and tempo, ignoring badly needed lyrical development.

Thankfully she hasn't taken to prodding and poking and tugging just yet; I've seen what my nephew puts his penis through and I fear for Anna's brand new, delicate business. She's happy to point and twist, singing her little song, emphasizing and dragging out the already overly-syllabled "vuh-GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-nuh!" like it's a piece of salt water taffy.

When we visited her doctor for her three-year checkup, he said, "I'm going to take a look at your vagina now, and that's okay because both your mom and dad are here." (He was only looking at the area near her hip bones, really.) I was relieved when a few days later she repeated what he'd said about Steve and I being present as she undressed for her bath, hoping she'd retain the instruction without asking for reasons. Two minutes later I had to pull her naked, dancing self out of our picture window.

Steve's gotten almost as comfortable saying the word as he is saying, I don't know, "proctologist," which is helpful. I have no idea how long this fascination will last or where it will lead, but she's going to have that vagina forever, and I don't plan on teaching her to be ashamed of it any time soon. So how do you explain modesty and privacy to a three-year-old?

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