E is in the bath, making the most of his remaining bath-play time as the water drains away. He starts to play with his willy, a broad grin on his face, flicking and pulling. I ask him not to do this, but I am not entirely sure why. I can sense that am lacking in sincerity as I say it. Part of me feels that I should tell him to stop, but quite frankly, it’s all natural, isn’t it? And well, boys and their willies… there’s something of the genetic imperative about a good fumble of your own tackle, isn’t there?
And this is by no means a recently developed fascination. A good few months ago, E and I were sitting in the kitchen whilst he had his post-nursery snack.
“Has mummy got a willy?” he asked as he bit into a piece of banana.
“No, sweetie, only boys have willies. You have a willy, daddy has a willy…” I fear this explanation could go on for some time. “… every boy as a willy.”
“My friend at nursery has a willy,” E comments. I assume he has concluded this by means of deductive reasoning rather than actually being witness to his friend’s private parts, but knowing the friend in question, I couldn’t rule anything out.
“Yes, poppet. Boys have willies. Girls don’t have willies.” Oh shit, why did I have to bring girls into the conversation? Please, please don’t ask what girls have instead of a willy. The word ‘willy’ seems so toddler friendly. Not too technical, not too childish, and pretty universal. I have no desire to rename his willy with some ridiculous baby-speak, implying that his willy is something akin to Lord Voldemort, whose name must never be uttered for fear of death by dark magic. I have never been tempted to refer to it as a ‘pinkie winkie’, or a ‘winky-winker’ or a ‘nobby nibbler’ or some such other ridiculous name that could be a character from The Night Garden (‘Oh look, Nobby Nibbler is taking a ride on the Pinky Ponk. What fun! Wave to Nobby Nibbler, everyone!’). Yet nor does it feel quite right to go straight for the linguistic jugular and refer to it as a ‘penis’.
But girls bits? That’s a whole new ball game. Sorry, that should probably be hole game. There seems to be no consensus amongst friends who have girls and a quick dip into that soup of mis-information we like to call the internet throws up a startling range of options, including such delights as froo-froo, hoo-ha and tinker. Froo-froo? Who the hell thought that one up? It conjures up images of a vagina framed with lacy pink frills and satin bows, perhaps with a bit of soft lighting and inoffensive music playing gently in the background. It is making me feel queasy. And hoo-ha? Cue posh voice, exclaiming: “By Jove! There’s been a bit of a hoo-ha, don’t you know!” And the dictionary definition of hoo-ha? A fuss or disturbance. I think that is all we need to know to ensure we do not call our vaginas a ‘hoo-ha’. That’s not to say that it couldn’t be involved´ in a hoo-ah, but that’s another story altogether…
By the time I look again, E had reached further back and is giving his balls a good old scratch, before moving further back still. “What are you doing?” I enquire. “I’m sticking my finger up my bottom,” he replies matter of factly.
Oh. Right. I believe that is what is called in the trade a good old-fashioned conversation stopper. Now please wash your hands.