Sunday, February 18, 2007

Banning Books

You’re kidding me, right?

Books? Words? A form of learning and educating oneself?


So the word is SCROTUM? Such an ugly word. Every time someone hurls it at me, I cower, waiting for the inevitable.

Dare my children hear this word? Oh, God, what would come of them?

First, they’ll run off to find their other little innocent babes and have a ball - opps - I mean, have so much fun tossing the WORD around.

Then, they’ll move on from this gateway word to perhaps testicle or, maybe, leave the male anatomy all together for more racier words like vulva or areola. And you all know where that’s going to take us. Dare I say it? Penis and that awful vagina. God, the horrors.


True story.

I remember when my daughter was 2 and 1/2, maybe three. She was in daycare, and we were called in during parent/teacher conference. Mind you, I don’t know what the hell we could conference about - “Oh, she really puts a spin on the singing of the alphabet” or, “she eats paste like no other.” Oh, well, I digress.

Anyway, we go in and her teacher seems a bit uncomfortable. She’s fumbling with her words. Finally, “I’m not sure how to bring this up, but today when we took the kids to the bathroom, your little precious one (of course, she didn’t say precious - I think she used angel), well, the kids were talking about their, you know, private parts, and your daughter corrected them. She, well, she used the words vagina and penis”.

So we did what any conscientious parent would do; we slapped the teacher hard across the face and said, “you brought us in here for this stupid shit?!”

No, we didn’t, but I do recall we said simultaneously, “AND?”

You see, the moment we knew that, in order to make a better life for my daughter, continuing our education and pursuing a career, meant that we would have to place our daughter in daycare - hand her over to others - strangers - on a daily basis. This scared the shit out of us. We decided on the daycare that was affiliated with the medical school my husband attended and which was located just across the street, allowing him to pop in anytime he wanted.

But we knew we would have to arm her with ammunition. A voice. This was something I had started earlier while attending graduate school. I had made the conscious effort never to talk to her in baby talk, and I was ridiculed and made fun of by more than a few family members. However, by the time our daughter was two, she had a pretty strong grasp of the English language.

The down side was that whenever we had family members come to visit, they often thought of her as entertainment - calling her over - “Hey, come over here and say that word again”, and she would oblige with a roll of her eyes and an “imbecile”.

So when we explained to her teacher at daycare that we had purposely taught our daughter to identify the parts of her body correctly, we got a blank stare. What the hell were we doing? I mean, it’s like an American tradition to give cute little names for body parts, especially those really private ones, right? Shouldn’t we want to protect our children for as long as we could, allowing my little girl to maintain her innocence as long as possible?

Yes, our job was to protect her, the only way we knew how - we bought her a sawed-off shotgun and some brass knuckles.

No, we armed her with knowledge and words that would clearly be understood, God forbid she may ever need them for protection. As young parents, my husband and I had recalled a few cases involving child abuse where the cases were thrown out or inconclusive because the child was not able to CLEARLY explain what happened to them. You see, the judge is not too sure what an actual boo-boo means. He needs the words vagina, penis, fondled, touched, hurt, tongue. Yes, all graphic, just like the word scrotum.

Before we start banning books and, even worse, words because we feel the need to protect our children, maybe we should ask exactly WHO are we protecting?

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