Have you ever even whispered that word to another adult, let alone your small child? Until yesterday, I don't think I had said the word vulva aloud. Vulva. Vulvaaaaaaa.
As it turned out, the universe conspired against me yesterday. We were all on the tail end of a rather icky gastro bug so personal hygiene was at the front of my mind, I had just read this fantastic article by Joyce McFadden about teaching your daughters about female sexuality, and I was watching my three year old wipe her bum after doing a wee.
'The wee comes out the front, sweetie, so if you do a wee you need to wipe at the front,' I told the Mop.
She automatically removed the wedge of toilet paper from her bottom and began wiping at the front.
'No no no no,' I cried at her. 'Front to back! Use new paper.'
She just stared at me.
'Look,' I said to her. 'Just come out to the family room when you're done. I have something I want to show you.'
I called out to the Bombshell to bring me some paper and a pen.
I buckled the baby into her chair: if I was going to do the vulva talk, I may as well get bang for my buck. The Mop and Bombshell gathered around as I drew a rather crude girl 'front bottom', which was the technical term we have always used in the past.
|I'm assuming this doesn't broach indecency laws...|
'These are your legs and this is your front bottom. Does it look familiar?'
The Mop hadn't bothered putting her knickers back on so we all looked at her, and yes, my picture looked vaguely accurate.
Then I drew a rather perky bottom and some legs. I scribbled in a small dark dot.
|I would suggest seeing a doctor if your bottom actually looks like this|
'And this is your anus. Your bottom where the poos come from.'
'Front. Back,' I told them, pointing. 'Wees, poos.'
I took a deep breath and plunged onwards. I drew a rather awkward spreadeagled pair of legs with a small dot at the front and a bigger dot at the back.
'Now this is what it looks like between your legs...'
Suddenly the Bombshell interrupted, pointing at the small dot. 'That's your bag-ina,' she said proudly. 'Boys don't have a bagina. They have a willy.'
I nodded sagely, and drew a third dot, surrounding it with a teardrop. 'Actually, your vagina is in the middle. Wees come from your urethra at the front. Can everyone say 'urethra'?'
'Ooo-eeef-wa,' attempted the Mop. The Bombshell almost mastered it.
I blundered on. 'You can't actually see your vagina because it is a hole. But you can see your vulva, it's a bit like lips. Can everyone say 'vulva'?'
'Vulva,' sang my three year old and five year old in unison. 'Vulva!'
The Mop sat down on the floor and opened her legs. The Bombshell and Baldy baby all peered at her with great interest. 'They are like lips,' agreed the Bombshell. 'But they don't kiss. Or talk.'
'Vulva,' cried the Mop.
Oh god, what have I done, I thought. But I had better finish, or else this will all be for nothing.
'So when you do a poo, you can't wipe towards the front, because you might get germs in your vulva and vagina...'
'... and germs are bad,' said the Bombshell.
She reached in front of me and took the pen. When she had finished she had added a piece of toilet paper to my diagram and an arrow pointing from the front to the back of my dodgy anatomical diagram. She turned to the Mop.
'So when you do a poo, you need to wipe at the back or else you get germs in your bagina. Is that right Mum?'
I nodded. I might make it through this in one piece, I thought.
'So what comes out of your bagina?' asked the Bombshell.
'Babies,' I told her. 'But that's a conversation for another time.'