Last week, Liam’s theme for the week at school was My Body. Needless to say this theme opened a whole CAN of worms… and not in the way you’d expect. We have always been very open about our bodies, I’ve used the correct terminology from the time they could speak, purely because I can’t bear to use a baby word for something that is completely normal and functional – you don’t hear people calling their eye a twinky-winky-peep-hole so why in the world would we give names to another anatomical appendages… like a pee-pee or a willy for a PENIS or a cookie or puffnik for a VAGINA? Yes, my mother taught me to call my vagina a puffnik! So Liam and Hannah are quite comfortable with their body parts. But that’s not even the can of worms I am referring to. Herewith a conversation that I had with my Liam last week. He came home with a picture of a face that he needed to colour in, followed by questions which we needed to discuss…
Liam: What colour is my face?
Me (long pause): Um, brown my baby.
Liam: What colour is my hair?
Liam: What colour are my eyes?
Me: Also brown.
At this point his picture is looking quite glum because it’s just BROWN. But on we go.
Liam: What’s the white part of my eye called?
Me (oh boy, here we go): Ooh, ah, ummm, I think it’s called the cornea? Wait, mommy’s not sure. Let me ask Daddy.
Daddy looks at me like I’m mad, he has no idea. Not even a suggestion. So I turn to cyberspace. My Facebook and Twitter friends reply with the correct answer – the sclera.
Me (chest puffed out): Darling, it’s called the sclera.
Me: Sclera. The white part of your eye.
Liam: Scccccera? Srrrrrrrera? Clera? Mommy, I can’t say that!
Me (giggling): It’s OK boy, you will learn. OK, lets colour the lips in red!
Liam: But it’s not a girl, why we putting lipstick? Sera? Sclora? Erra? (still trying to say sclera).
Me: OK, if the lips aren’t red, what colour will we make them?
Liam: Brown. Lera? Clera? Sera? (still struggling)
Me: But there’s so much brown, baby! let’s make it a mommy face, then she can wear lipstick.
Liam: NO! This is MY face! I’m not a mommy, I’m a boy! What’s the white part called again?
Me: SCLERA! OK, what colour are YOUR lips then?
Liam: My lips are white. Sssssssssera?
Me: Oookkkk, white… hmm.. then we won’t colour them in. We’ll leave them like that then.
Liam: OK, and what colour is my nose. Sceeera?
Me: S.C.L.E.R.A boy… SCLERA!!! Your nose is brown.
Liam: Teacher Megan says my skin is peach.
Me (big eyes): Oh really? Well we don’t have a peach crayon so you will have to be brown OK?
Liam: What is the circle in my eye called?
Me: The brown ball?
Liam: Yes, here next to the sssera, kera. (poking his eye)
Me: That’s called an iris.
Liam: Iris! I can say it mommy! Iris!!
Me (laughing): Yes boy, you can!
Liam: How come Teacher Megan’s iris is green?
Me (oh boy): Some people have a green iris or a blue iris or a light brown iris. We are all different, aren’t we?
Liam: How come everything for me is BROWN?
Me (OH BOY): You are beautiful like this! You are brown like Mommy and Daddy! (please please make him stop!)
Liam: How do I say the white part again? (Sjoe! I’d rather have a pronunciation conversation than a race conversation with my two year old)
Liam: Sera? Rera? SSSSCCCCCera? They white like my teeth, hey?
Me: Yes baby. You must brush well to keep your teeth white, hey?
Liam: …And so my mouth doesn’t smell poofies.
Me: Yes, that’s right.
Me: OK, I think we are done, good job, let’s put this in your bag so you can show Teacher Megan tomorrow.
Liam: Ssssera? Cera?
Me: It’s OK boy, you’ll learn to say it soon. Don’t worry now, let’s get ready for bed.
This reminds him of another word he can’t say: Flamingo.
Liam: Like famingo. Mamingo. Lamingo. I can’t say that pink bird’s name!
Me: FLLLLLAAAAAMINGO. (Starting to feel like Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady)
Liam: Its OK mommy, I’ll learn to say those big words soon.
Me: Yes you will my sweetheart.
Liam: I’m not your sweetheart, I’m your darling.
Me: Ok, my darling. Time for bed.
Liam: Night my darling.
Me: Night my darling.
As I left the room, I heard him practising and still struggling with his new words – bless! Since this conversation we have had many more interesting discussions about our bodies and many questions around why some people have hair in certain areas and others don’t… why mommy has such a big tummy and bum… why does Zoleka have a black face. I love that he has such an enquiring mind, and I don’t mind being sucker punched into silence by my two year old when he asks me questions that I have to twoogle. They weren’t joking when they said it takes a (cyberspace) village to raise a child, because I most definitely do not have all the answers!