Thursday, March 4, 2010

What’s In A Name? (Number 2.)

From my teaching days I can inform the class that a noun is a naming word. In the case of the original ‘What’s In a Name’ blog, James’ name is a proper noun. This blog, however, is about a common noun and the name it is to be given.

James has discovered something and it gets his attention every time it’s exposed. It’s the thing that separates the boys from the girls. That’s right folks, James is aware that he is a boy and this is now a source of curiosity to him.

At every nappy change James’ hand shoots south. As he sits in the bath, invariably, one hand holds his toothbrush, the other is below the water line. And Kylee and I are now in the process of discouraging this behaviour.

‘James, don’t touch yourself’ I heard myself saying. ‘Don’t touch yourself’. Hmmm, that’s a bit abstract for a toddler. What is ‘yourself’?

We have been learning the names for things, so it seems time to introduce a new noun.

If I might quote from the genius of Ivan Reitman’s ‘Kindergarten Cop’ on the subject, “Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina”. So, ‘penis’ would be the anatomically correct term. Thanks Ivan.

I know a lot of parents take the view that children should be taught the correct names for anatomy. They also tend to be the type of parent that have their kids call them by their first name. That’s all a bit too lentils, tie dye and new age for me.

I’m a bit uncomfortable with the use of the word ‘penis’, so I fall into the second camp that seeks out an alternative name.

We worked with ‘willy’, but I like the name William and if we were to ever have another boy I’d hate for his older brother to tease him because of the word association between name and nether region.

Kylee and I convened a special meeting on the subject. What were the other options? We needed a name that we would both use for consistency. I put forward ‘tool’ and ‘member’. Too low brow apparently. ‘Sausage’? No. ‘Todger’? Too Benny Hill. This was becoming problematic.

The answer however was staring us right in the face (so to speak). ‘Doodle’. Not to vulgar. Socially acceptable if needed to be used in public. So, doodle it is.

Bath time now gives rise to conversation along the lines of, ‘James, hands off your doodle.’ ‘Good boy, well done.’


  1. I think it's easier to choose, what you term, a socially acceptable nickname for the male anatomy than for a female's. We also use 'doodle' but we have had to explain (yes, already) that girl's have hhmmmmm...what do we call it...a vagina. Can you imagine what we will possibly be saying, Ruby, hands off your vagina!' Pleeeaassse help us on the girl version?

  2. Its taken some time, but it seems that 'wee wee' might be the female equivalent of 'doodle'. I must say I'm not convinced but that's what I have so far. This conundrum seems to support the pro-anatomical terminolgy argument. I guess if you use vagina and penis appropriately and treat them as any old word then kids don't place a stigma on them like we super sensitive adults do. Hang on a second, have I just become a parent who calls them 'penis' and 'vagina'.