I have gone on the record as saying that I believe children should be taught proper words for genitals. In addition to promoting body positivity in our children and laying the groundwork for sex-positive attitudes it's just... logical. I mean not to go all Mr. Spock here, but what the hell is the point of not saying penis, vagina, breasts, labia, clitoris, testicles, etc.? Do we have code words for our shoulders or knees? Yet the just-a-little-bit-too-adorable nicknames persist.
When I was little, I called my vulva a "winky." Penises? Also winkies in my childhood word. I'd like to say that's because even at a young age I had subversive ideas about sex and gender, but I think it's because I wasn't especially creative. I don't know when I actually learned the word "vagina" or even when I started using vulva or vagina to describe my fancy bits, but once it happened there was no looking back. Now I find a particularly amusement in hearing the euphemisms parents and children come up with to describe their bodies, mainly because they can get downright bizarre.
Of course, what's bizarre to one person is regional or cultural standard to another, but let's be honest here: They're almost always still silly words, no matter the context. I think we can all join together in chuckling about how ridiculous we can get in trying to avoid mentioning body parts...
"Num-Nums" - Eliza
I suppose this makes perfect sense for a breastfeeding child, but maybe it's a bit too on the nose?
"Tee-Tees" - Adelina
"Titi" (disambiguation of "tia") is what my children call their godmother, so using it to mean breasts just feels weird to me. Like, I get it, but still...
"Bazoombas" - Theresa
I didn't realize this word was used in seriousness outside of, like, a high school production of Grease, but I guess I was wrong.
"Pickle" - Irene
Describing food items as genitals makes me really uncomfortable, dudes.
"Ding-A-Ling" - Bonnie
...and also probably Ned Flanders.
"Pecker" - Lesley
This is another one I didn't realize people said in earnest. #TheMoreYouKnow
"Ding Dong" - Janelle
You'll never look at those delicious snack cakes the same way ever again...
"Weenis" - Allison
Self-explanatory. Moving on.
"Peenywinkle" - Heather
Sorry not sorry: This sounds like the fifth Teletubbie who left to launch his own career. He's the Zayne Malik of the Teletubbies.
"Goolies" - Caroline
My neighbor, who was born and bred in Ireland, shared this instant classic for "testicles" with me. Apparently it's popular throughout the U.K. as well.
"Peter" - Lesley
True facts: It did not strike me that "peter" as slang for penis and "Peter," a male name made famous by Bible, were the same word. Maybe it's because I always imagined the slang to be spelled "peeter" or maybe because I was raised to be a virtuous Catholic girl (it didn't stick), but this literally dawned on me, like, in college.
"Gentleman Parts" - Rachel
This is a catch all for any male-specific body part below the navel. It is useful in bath time contexts in particular, when her sons are instructed to "wash their gentleman parts."
"Cha-Cha/Cha-Chas" - Lesley and Rosa
Being a fan of Missy Elliot, I've always heard this as a euphemism for a vagina, which is how Lesley employed it as a child, but I guess it also works for breasts, because that's how Rosa refers to hers.
"Privvy Parts" - Kathryn (who thought her mom was saying "pretty parts," which is adorable)
Katheryn's mother used this word interchangeably with "penis" and "vagina." I also feel like Kathryn's mom must have gone to a lot of Renaissance Faires, because it strikes me as a very Ren Faire turn of phrase.
"Cookie/Cookies" - Danielle and Megan
Danielle's mother called vaginas "cookies," which is also a euphemism I've frequently heard (and, I'll be honest here, been weirded out by, because it makes Cookie Monster feel really dirty), but I also learned this can be another way of saying "breasts." Apparently, Megan's daughter referred to breasts as "cookies" while she was nursing. Which, considering breast milk tastes sweet, perhaps makes a lot of sense.
"Djoodj" - Frankie
Apparently, it's "pronounced like you're saying judge really silly" and was entirely made up by Frankie's daughters. She has no idea where it came from.
"Tutu" - Piper from 'Orange is the New Black'
When one considers the layers of an actual tutu, this may be another one that's more accurate than we give it credit for.
"Front-Bottom" - Tamar
As opposed to "back bottom." Tamar assures me that she is horrified by her husband's use of these terms and that she sticks with anatomically accurate language.
"Goana" - Megan
Megan says her daughter sounds like Steve Irwin when she says this and, I'm not going to lie, I think this is fantastic. Because likening your vulva to an enormous Australian lizard is hysterical an fabulous.
"Pretty" - Sara
I mean... not gonna lie, that's sort of precious. A bit ridiculous, but precious.
"Flower" - Allison G. and also Monica Gellar from 'Friends'
Flowers are basically just plant genitalia, so this sort of makes sense!
"Pootie" - Julie
You know how some people cannot stand the sound of certain words. Like "moist." That's how I feel about "pootie."
"Wookiee" - Grace
My sister Grace began calling her vulva a "wookie" around the time she was 2. It made Star Wars and every reference to a "big hairy wookiee" really, really awkward.
"Giney" - Elizabeth
This makes perfect sense. "Vagina" can be a hard word for little kids to say. My son says "bagina" and my daughter says "maginja."
"Popo" - Ellen
"Yep. I called my vagina 'po-po.' My kids use real words."
"Eenie" - Allison
"I have no idea."
"Coolie" - Dorothy
Italian-Americans in the house repreSENT!
"Bitsybah" - Julie B.
Unlike "Peenywinkle," "Bitsybah" is the Teletubbie who left the group before they were famous. You'd think this would upset her, but no. Bitsybah wasn't in it for the fame. She's actually a successful wedding singer out in Long Island and is married with two really cute kids.
But in real life, "bitsybah" is Julie's daughter's word for her butt, "because it makes her laugh. I'm fine with that, but I do feel weirdly compelled to explain to other adults that it's her silly word, not our family euphemism."