Last night I stood atop the stairs watching my daughter Annie, 14, delight in dancing to extremely loud rap music. Her friend Hannah was over and they were having so much fun that I had to peek in on the action. So I’m looking down and she’s dancing while firmly holding her crotch in her right hand. “Honey,” I say, “Why are you holding your vagina?” She starts laughing and responds “Mom, I’m dancing like Lil Wayne.” Well, of course. Duh. And even though the extent of my Lil Wayne knowledge is that he has a song the words: “Mother f***** I’m ill, not sick.” I do, however, like that she is using “the Vag” (her words ala Juno), as a power tool. Not a big fan of most rap, not because I don’t think it’s danceable, but because I often squirm at the misogynistic lyrics, and overtly sexual (“like a lollipop”) lyrics that these girls happily sing out, usually while they are riding in the back seat of the van. I know they don’t get the full-on implications (thank God) but I always feel the urge to explain. I want to say, “You are NOT an object and please don’t treat yourself of think of yourself as such. You worth is not in the boobs or the VAG or the power to entice boys.” Sometimes I even say something like that. And sometimes I just let it go and let them enjoy the music.
Today, however, after laughing at the Lil Wayne dance move, we break into a discussion about things people call their privates and further hysteria ensues.
PRIAVTE PARTS STORY 1:
I remind them of the time our friend Liz Lane was shocked when Annie, at 7, used the word penis. I remember sitting in the front of her minivan and asking “Well Liz, what do you call it?” And she looked at me calmly and said in the most matter-of-fact way, “A dinkie.” To which we both started howling. And then naturally I followed up to ask about what she called the female private and she said “A cookie.” More howling. And then finally I asked, “Well doesn’t that get confusing when they actually want a cookie? Liz sensed she was on a riff, so then she revealed the story of a recent trip to the zoo when their family of four, Liz, Jim, Cubby,7, and Katherine, 6, were staring at the zebras along with many other zoo visitors. Jim was holding Katherine on his shoulders when she decided to announce at the top of her lungs—perhaps inspired by something she saw on a zebra—“Cubby’s dinky is cute but daddy’s dinky is disgusting.”
PRIVATE PARTS STORY 2:
I come up with another tale of dinkie humor by recalling a moment the summer before when we were at the Jersey shore and I was walking the girls back home from the beach. As we were walking down the street, their dad came walking toward us, heading for an afternoon swim. My youngest Emmy, then 5, inquired, “Daddy did you bring your penis with you?”
PRIVATE PARTS STORY 3:
At day’s end I call my pal and dearest friend, Kate Ross Johnson, to relate these tales of genital hilarity and she says, “That’s nothing. Do you know that I called it my “between-your-legs” until I went off to boarding school in 9th grade?” Wow, talk about a one-way ticket to therapy. Suddenly I am grateful for growing up in the house of a ob-gyn (dad) where body parts were referred to by their anatomically correct names. But as an adult I am kind of warming to the idea of referring to my own private real estate as the “between-my-legs” because I’m thinking it’s property so powerful one cannot even refer to it by name. Voldemort downright wilts in comparison.