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“This is my tussy,” 3 year-old Dylan proclaims. I look at my daughter.

“That’s not your tussy, honey,” I explain, repeating the word for “rear end” my husband introduced to our family. “That’s your vagina.”

“No, it’s my tussy,” Dylan insists.

“Sweetheart, I promise you. That is definitely your vagina.”

But Dylan remains unconvinced. “It’s my tussy!” she hollers.

I give up. I mean, I’ve never heard of anyone growing up and being confused over the difference between their vagina and their bottom. This mix-up will definitely work itself out in time. No need to argue with a 3 year-old.

“I have a vagina,” she then proclaims. At least her facts are right this time, even if she can’t quite pin down the location.

“That’s right honey. You have a vagina. I have a vagina and Summer has a vagina. All girls have vaginas. ” At this point, I’m wondering if one should even discuss vaginas with their toddler. But I’ve gone too far to turn back. I’ll just stick with the facts (no goofy names for genitalia) and then I’ll suggest we go to the park or something. (By the way, that may be the first time I’ve every typed the word genitalia. Strange word.)

“And daddy has a vagina!” Dylan triumphantly concludes.

“No, honey. Daddy does not have a vagina,” I reply. For some reason, this all feels a bit inappropriate but I wager on. I don’t want to mislead her and I don’t want to tell her too much. I hope I’m not being recorded for some hidden camera mommy show. Highly unlikely.

“Yes, he has a vagina,” Dylan insists.

“No, sweetheart, daddy does not. He has a penis. Girls have vaginas and boys have penises. Daddy is a boy.” I explain. That’s simple enough. Right? This isn’t so bad. I am in control of this conversation.

“Daddy has peanuts!” Dylan exuberantly exclaims.

“Hmmm… I think he would probably prefer if you did not refer to his penis as ‘peanuts.'” OK, enough of this. “Do you want a mini-cupcake?” I ask. Suddenly, all talk of peanuts and other body parts are forgotten. Oh, the almighty cupcake.

mama bird notes

We have also have a piece today by contributing mama, Jordana Bales. She writes about one of her adventures as a mad mama scientist. If you’re hoping to get your child in a Halloween costume in a few weeks, this is expert advice on “what not to do.” I promise you’ll laugh or your money back. Oh wait, you didn’t pay any money. Seriously, you’ll laugh. Just click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar on the right side of the screen.

9 Responses to the misplaced tussy

  • Kerry says:

    kelce, with all due respect…isn't it spelled 'tushie?' no wonder dylan is confused! 🙂 in all seriousness, i think it's totally appropriate to talk privates with your toddler…stay the course!

  • Daphne says:

    My four-year-old, Following sesame street last week: Mom, letter of the day was p! I know a word that starts with p: Pachina!

  • francine Kasen says:

    We say tussy as well. I think it's a south jersey thing. How about nipples??? My Brooklyn sister-in-law taught us Ninny as the word for nipples. It always makes us smile. Fran

  • Jordana Bales says:

    Fully support the idea of calling a rose a rose (or a vagina as the case may be). Your entry reminded me when I had to first teach reproduction to a bunch of 14 year olds and practiced saying “vagina” and “penis” in every day conversation so that I would feel comfortable in the classroom. I got some strange looks from people I was chatting with but it completely helped me feel professional when I had to say my first “penis” as a high school teacher!

  • Kelcey says:

    OK, just to clarify. Blame my husband Rick on this confusion. The word, ‘tussy’ (rhymes with pussycat without the cat part) came from him. Not to be confused with the more common, ‘tushy’ or ‘tushie.’ I grew up with ‘bum’ and ‘bottom’ so what do I know.

  • Kimberly says:

    we have the tushy/tussy debate in our house too… i chose not to use any of the pretend words i was taught growing up (ask rick what the other parts were called if you really want a chuckle) but my kids will always have tussies too! steve will tell you they have tushies though:)

  • Betsy says:

    I too am not afraid to talk about bodies and reproduction. I have taught sex-ed to eighth graders. However my daughter,2 and a half, also has some confusion. She announced to me that her “pee pee” was small. She named it herself. “I need to wait until it grows big. Big like daddy’s.” We had a conversation very similar to yours.

  • Lauren says:

    This story is laugh-out-loud hysterical! A "Tushy" versus "Tussy" debate has raged with my New York friends since I moved here from Philly 13 years ago. Luckily, I married someone from Philly so tussy is the preferred term in our household.

    Our son Leo, who has a very spotty tuss, has been fixated on vaginas and peepers (easier to say than "penis") for at least a year!

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kelcey kintner