Mummy moment #34: Breast is not a dirty word (and neither is penis and vagina)

In conversation with my 6 year-old

M: Mummy I remember when J was small and he was sucking on your…

Me: Sucking on my what luv?

(Pause)

Me: Go on, say it.

M: I don’t want to say it.

Me: It’s not a dirty word dear. You can say it.

M: (whispers) My friend said it’s a dirty word.

Me: No dear. You listen to mummy okay. Breast is just a part of the body like your head, your chest, arms or penis.

M: My what?

Me: Penis. We’ve always called it your PP meaning private part but it’s really a penis.

M: Do you have a penis mummy?

Me: No dear, I have vagina. All girls have vaginas. Well at least back when we were growing up.

M: So how do you weewee?

Me: Don’t you see me sitting down to wee?

M: Yes. You don’t stand.

Me: Exactly. Because I don’t have a penis.

I thought I had had the talk with him but I see I still had quite a bit to cover. I started teaching M about body autonomy when he turned 5. I used this book by Pastor Nomthi Odukoya. It’s really good and simple enough for a 5 year old to read and understand. I highly recommend it.

It’s a good thing I had the talk with him before now so it was easier for us to have this conversation now. I don’t mean to school the parents of the child who told my son that breast is a dirty word but I guess I will have to. Breast is not a dirty word. It’s a body part. Child-molesters use the shame associated with body parts like the breast, penis and vagina to help them hide their wicked acts. We should demystify it for the child so that he/she is comfortable naming it yet they understand the boundary early enough. Don’t touch me there and don’t make me touch you there. If you want specifics, then the child can say exactly what it is. You can also use this fun video someone sent to me via WhatsAppif you want to introduce it to the younger ones.

Update: “Mummy, what will happen if someone touches my private part?”

Okay. That was unexpected. The books and the experts certainly didn’t tell us how to deal with back talk. Sigh. I had to think on my feet.

“Well, there are lots of bad people in the world. And some of them want to use your private part to make themselves happy. Or they want you to touch their own. That’s a wicked thing. You could also get a disease if they touch you or you touch them. And, they’ll make it really hard for you to get close to people when you’re older. Do you understand?” I realise I’ve unloaded quite a lot on my boy but he nods with deep comprehension. “Yes mummy, I do.”

Phew. Another day parenting milestone survived.

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