A few months back, Felicity Huffman wrote a post at WhatTheFlicka.com talking about the modern-day hoopla related to vaginas and how moms often tend to give nicknames when discussing the matter with young daughters. I confessed to having named my daughter’s vagina Petunia.
In addition to the cutesy nickname, we also refer to Petunia in third-person. “Did you wash her when you were in the bath?” Sometimes I feel like we’re really talking about another person. With my son, a penis has always just been a penis. Penis is fun to say. Vagina? Not so much.
Yesterday my daughter and I headed to the garden center of our local home improvement store to scope out annuals for the garden and patio. It was a warm, sunshine filled day so I was briefly inspired. As we made our way through the section of brightly colored but slightly wilted annuals, we bumped into a nice, older lady also checking out the annuals. Literally. After apologizing for the bump, I decided it couldn’t hurt to ask what she recommended for my patio pots. Nice Older Lady was more than happy to strike up a mostly one-sided conversation about her garden and make suggestions for mine.
She eventually got around to asking my daughter which flowers she’d like to plant. Of course there was no response. My daughter doesn’t speak to adults other than me. She hides her face and simply refuses to socialize with anyone above 48 inches tall. Nice Older Lady pressed a bit, saying, “I bet you would love to play with petunias, honey.” I froze.
After not having received a response from my hiding daughter, she redirected her
ramblings fascinating chat back to me. “Mom, get a multi-colored flat of petunias, set her outside in the yard with some soil and just let her play with a petunia or two. They’re inexpensive and besides, she couldn’t hurt a petunia. And she’ll grow up to be quite the little gardener,” she said.
You know where this is going, right?
My daughter pulled my face to hers and whispered, “Mommy, why is the lady talking about Petunia? You said she was private and I’m not supposed to play with her when I’m outside.”
So. Last night my darling 4 year-old daughter and I had a talk just before bed and I taught her a new word. Vagina. She doesn’t like the word and after only a moment’s thought, she informed me that she’d not be renaming Petunia.
The lesson learned: Always call a vagina a vagina or beware of nice, older ladies in garden centers?