When faced with the direct question ‘ where is your willy, Nanny’ by a boy who is keenly observant in the swimming pool family changing room I falter. The area has thin walls. Many families, no doubt with differing views about how to respond, are in earshot.
It’s not a deficit
How easy it would be to answer in the negative,‘ I don’t have one’ which would suggest I lack something. So what was the answer?
I had no prepared script
‘Your willy is part of your genitals with your testicles. They are part of your body. I have my genitals which are more on the inside of my body….was scripting in my brain.
Mum, my daughter, was there too. As the seconds passed I became aware that there was a father with his son of about 8 years in the next cubicle. Again I faltered. Why had I not got my script ready I knew this question would hit me one day.
I decided to go technical, ‘ that is my mons pubis’. Before the words had elicited any response from my grandson my daughter squealed,
- ‘ What? It’s Nanny’s vagina’.
Well, I thought, that certainly cleared matters up. Although it is really my vulva, I went along with the commonly used word, vagina.
Her answer did nothing more than was asked or required. It was like saying ‘ that’s Nanny’s nose’. It was not as difficult a conversation as I imagined. Mind you I never saw the face of the man next door.
Sharing the story
Some weeks later at a party I found myself regaling my nephew of the challenge. He has teen children where such matters must be out in the open by now. As I hit the punchline he roared with laughter. But not at the story, at his elderly aunt telling it.
- ‘That is not a pair of words I ever thought I would hear in the same sentence…Nanny and vagina’.
Probably true … we do keep such chatter and language to dark corners, places where fingers rise to mouths and shhhhhh is the first sound. Maybe we do not need to do that as much as we think we do.
- Have your answers to questions like ‘what’s that ‘ and ‘where’s your willy’ prepared as one day you will face them.
- Avoid making your female genitalia sound like a deficit.
- Be honest, direct and remember you do not need to say more than it’s my vagina.