How My Women’s Studies Degree Was Revoked

SCENE: The ladies lounge of a country club on the outskirts of Chicago. Several imperious-but-friendly elderly golfers were relaxing in the lounge talking about mulligans and sand wedges (not the summer shoe, but the golf club).  There was also an attendant who appeared to be keeping the lounge in pristine condition.

HOW DID WE END UP THERE: Some generous and kind friends invited us to be their guests at the pool and join them for lunch.  Sadie, somewhat overstimulated by the posh surroundings of the lovely club, had a hard time focusing when we went to the bathroom at 12:20.  She was unable to pee in the presence of visor-headed ladies and all those club trophies.  So, we tried again the moment mommy’s lunch arrived at 12:40. For good measure, during our 12:40 trip, we tried a different stall to see if we could get better success.

Me: Sadie, can I help you?

Sadie: Yes.

The sound of golden droplets sprinkling the toilet.

Me: Good job!  Let’s wipe.

Sadie discovers that shiny silver bin where non-flushable items go.  You know that bin, right? The one that is directly at her eye level when she perches on the throne? That one.

Me: Sadie, please don’t touch that. It’s dirty.

She touches it again.

Me: Sadie, that’s seriously dirty. Let’s not touch that.

Guess what? She now wants to fondle it passionately because she enjoys that it’s driving me crazy.

Me: Sadie, let’s get out of here.  PLEASE stop touching that. It’s super, super dirty.


* * *

I am pretty sure that my Master’s degree (the one wherein my concentration was women’s studies) was revoked instantly.  Several key chambers of my heart collapsed, along with my lungs and my soul and my spirit animal (the swan).

Ya’ll, I have worked diligently from DAY NUMERO UNO to teach Sadie and Simon that their bodies are sacred.  I won’t let them turn their noses up at their own sh*t, for god’s sakes (which, just between us, smells like SH*T). Whenever Sadie takes a whiff of Simon’s pungent poops and makes her “EEEWWWWWW” face, I tell her (in what must be a very annoying voice), “Sadie, it’s actually wonderful that Simon’s body works so well. We are so lucky that he’s healthy and his body works.”  I am THAT mom. I am not hard core about much, but I am hard core about body love and body acceptance and body RAH! RAH! RAH!

From the beginning, I have used the correct body part names for all body parts, including genitals because I read it was key to raising children who love their bodies.  There is no “wee wee” or “hoo ha” or “va jay jay” around here.  Children who freely name their body parts are also less likely to be targeted for sexual abuse.  Sadie knows that when Simon takes a poop I have to clean his penis and his testicles.  We call a spade a spade around here.

Because I am educated.

Because I care.

Because I have had enough therapy that my therapist should name his boat after me.

Because I want my kids to love their bodies.

Because I don’t want either of them to think their genitals are dirty, disgusting, or shameful.

So, how in name of the Good Lord did Sadie come up with the idea that a vagina is dirty, like a trash receptacle?

I am telling you, I am so disheartened I have go to bed.  I would probably go to bed anyway because it’s almost 8:45 PM, but I am upset.  And if I were any less dehydrated, I might be crying real tears.

Internet, I need a pep talk.


35 thoughts on “How My Women’s Studies Degree Was Revoked

  1. First, take a couple steps back from the ledge. It’s going to be okay. It was just one comment that you can easily address. Ask Sadie why she said that. It might be something really simple. Since Simon’s penis gets dirty after he poops and you have to clean it, she might be thinking along those lines.
    You are so doing the right thing addressing the proper names for body parts. And you can address this. Continue talking about how wonderful their bodies are and just let her know that a vagina is not dirty like a trash recepticle.
    You are a wonderful mom. No matter what, our kids are gonna say the damndest things. Just take them as they come and work through it.
    Now go hydrate so you can cry the next time one of them says something crazy! 🙂 Big hugs!

    • Whew. This comment is exactly what I need (along with some chocolate milk). I can’t, in the heat of the moment, imagine a less drastic reality. I jump to the worst case scenario and there very well could be a logical explanation. I have already got her piercing her face and being a cutter.

      Yes. A step back.

      Thank you.

  2. Girl. They do need to love their bodies without the terrible images our society creates for them. However, they are not required to love the nastiness that their bodies dispose themselves of! So maybe, just maybe, because she is brilliant like her mother, she is associating that the odd tiny trash can inside the stall must involve something that comes out of other people’s parts…and other people are germy, right? We certainly would not touch someone’s poop or pee…so she was referring to that. I am sure. Mommy is inferring the simile here…Maybe Sadie meant something a little less earth-shattering. You are awesome!

    • Hmmmmm. You may be on to something. Those bins do hold used sanitary items that come out of vaginas. It is possible she picked up on that. I am so grateful for the help reframing this…. I need the village! I am sort of dramatic too. But I am sure you didn’t know that.

  3. I think Kenja and T are exactly right. Also, keep in mind that she was touching the thing to get a rise out of you. She might have intuited a response that would continue to get that rise once she couldn’t torment you by grabbing the germy trash can anymore.

  4. Hun: all I can do is promise you it will be okay. Kids are nutters. And they hear all sorts of stuff from other kids, or teachers, or other adults.

    This is one of the things I’ve learned in all of my millions of dollars of therapy: aw darn, I am too tired to think what I was going to say. Oh–see? There you go. The smartest people can say and do the not-so-smartest things sometimes. Words–sometimes, when spoken by babes, really are just words. Much love to you, and I better go to bed before I say anything too silly.

    • You are hilarious and sweet and do reassuring. For whatever reason, I am letting go and trusting my little nutters will be just fine. Are just fine. She does have a higher power of her own….

  5. I too have my son use the proper names for things. And he too has a fascination for that little silver bin. He goes for it every single time he uses a public toilet. He knows when I am having my menstrual cycle – yes, he calls it that – and tells me he needs a tampon when I change mine, which then leads to a conversation about how only women have menstrual cycles. I digress… Sadie has to wipe after she goes to the bathroom to clean her vagina. To a little one the opposite of clean is dirty. And she probably only knows one definition of dirty at this point. Keep the conversations going. You are an awesome mom for having them and it will serve both your children well both now and in the future.

    • Oh! We’ve have the period conversation but I haven’t taught menstrual cycle yet. That is a great idea. The kids think tampons are funny lollipops, which I have tried to explain.

      Breathe. I just need to keep the conversation going. That I can do.

      Thank you.

  6. I second Kenja. We have been teaching our girl that it is okay for her to touch her vagina but if anyone else tries to touch it (besides Mommy or Daddy who sometimes need to help her clean it) she should tell us right away. I suspect it it something like this or diaper changes that made her say it. I got my husband on board with my private parts education program but not before he said something like “she’s touching it, do something.”. Our girl said to him “don’t worry daddy, you can touch your own testicles.”

  7. I thought you were going to say she licked it. That would be the end of the world to me. This is just another conversation starter. Also, remember, she is not as intellectually advanced as you are, and kids are programmed to say the thing that will put you so far over the edge that you forget what the edge looks like. Cut her and yourself some slack.

    • Omg. You are right. I would not put it past her to lick it. That’s it– she can never read these comments bc it will give her the idea!!

      And you are right. After a little sleep I am ready for the conversation …. That may never end.

  8. Wow–I was supposed to teach Jeffrey to clean his penis after a poop? Seems like you have it right to me–I’m using all the correct names too though I say tee tee instead of pee. I cannot stand the woed pee. I was proud when another Pre-K mom called me because he asked her daughter to see her vagina. My response was, “well, this is awkward but I’m glad he used the right word.” really, I had nothing else to say but thanks. Another favorite was when I was putting him to need when he was 3 and he said, “I put a button in my bum.” I called the doctor and she just said, “that Jeffrey…” Mara cried a lot when she found out that she would get hair in her privates because it was ugly. Great stories to come your way!,,, I can’t wait to hear more from you as they get older!!!!

    Oh ya… I’m the mom that has taught the kids flush with their foot, turn the faucet with paper towel and open the door with a paper towel to exit the bathroom. Then, we move to England where they don’t have paper towels just hand dryers with cold air! Maybe my kids will be less neurotic..

    • I am laughing out loud. I wish you lived down the street so I could lol everyday with you. It do much less scary when I am laughing. Jeffrey sounds like a mensch.

      And you, an amazing mom.

  9. David said I missed the big picture in reminiscing…
    Questions asked by just turned 8 year olds this wknd.

    Why do they wear a berka (woman at airport)?
    What, they aren’t wearing their tops? Referring to the topless women on the beaches in Spain.
    Why can’t nuns get married? (David answered that one well)…

    Hilarious and so many ways to say the SAME message.

    • I love the questions. THey betray the innocence before it became a sin to ask about difference or wonder about someone who seems different. MIght be a better world if we could just ask a few questions.

  10. What a wonderful mama you are! And what great support your internet crew provided! Ask and you shall receive and all that … Our kids will be the ones teaching their friends all this stuff. Can’t wait for those calls!

  11. I introduced the term “Moobs” to my 9 year old. I am not all in to the correct words for anatomy. Sometimes yes, but sometimes it’s just more fun to use silly words. I want my kids to be silly more than serious (for now…there’s plenty of time to be serious later and there’s a time and place for everything).

    • As always, it’s good to hear the flip side of things. I know I am too wrapped up in this and take it a wee bit seriously. Thank you for sharing your experience on this.

  12. I hope you’ve recovered by now. Don’t worry about the degree. I’ve taught courses cross-listed with Women’s Studies and never once did ‘vagina’ appear in my lectures. Lol

  13. Pingback: I Made Up A New Word To Describe Parenting: “Harderful” | Outlaw Mama

  14. Reading much later, I hit some of the comments above, not all.
    I have 2 girls (thus far). My first thought was that she made a connection between having to wash hands after touching herself, and requirement of washing hands when something is “dirty”…she simply connected that when mama says it’s dirty it means wash hands. Washing hands also employed when Littles explore around their yoni & buttocks (also in our house, vagina & anus) please, you must wash your hands after. To repeat for clarity’s sake, the connection there was washing hands, not “dirty”, and most certainly not what adults read into the metaphor of a trash receptacle!
    I’ve caught myself making similar mental trips with adult connections, forgetting that they’re SO NOT in the same realm of knowledge & experience—-It’s mortifying where my brain will take me.
    Enjoying your blog this morning, Happy Day to you Mama.

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