This is a post from Mairi Campbell Jack; a poet who lives in Edinburgh with her daughter and blogs poetry at www.alumpinthethroat.wordpress.com and tweets @lumpinthethroat. It originally appeared on DorkyMum.
One of the strange things to observe in babies is them discovering themselves. It starts with them realising their physical boundaries, and ends, well… for most of us it never stops really. I can tell you exactly where it starts though, the hands. At some point a baby will realise that they have hands and then spend several days, or sometimes weeks, just waving its little fist back and forth in front of its face, utterly amazed. I do wonder what goes through their heads, and if it is the first time really that we experience a sense of power.
It doesn’t stop there, it moves onto toes and other things. My daughter, I think finished discovering her body this spring. After a lovely day with a friend at the Botanics we came back to the flat for tea. Her preference at home is to be semi-naked so she promptly stripped off. She then sat on the couch, legs wide apart, pointed at her vagina and said “Mummy, what’s that?”
It was, I imagine a bit like dying – my life didn’t flash in front of my eyes – but rather my mind very quickly scrolled through every word I had ever heard for vagina, several chapters of The Whole Woman, and that bit from The Vagina Monologues with the frog naming ceremony. What do I tell her? Do I go down the route of euphemism and say “That’s your flower”. It very clearly isn’t a flower, it’s a human body part. Do I ignore the difficult question altogether and set an example of the human body as being something that shouldn’t be discussed and is something to be ashamed of. In the end I plumped for saying “It’s your vagina. Now, we do have guests, could you put your pants on please.”
My daughters reaction?
“Can I see yours?”