Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yesterday at the Ron Mueck exhibit, Abby thoroughly enjoyed the sculptures. There was this huge newborn baby girl that Abby sat and stared at from all directions for a while. After looking at all the pieces we ventured into the Annie Liebovitz exhibit. Abby kept asking to see the “big heads” one more time. I’m pretty sure we spent about an hour and a half looking at Mueck’s pieces. This one sculpture is of a huge bearded man on a chair looking terrified at the floor like something was coming to bite his toes. The man was naked. Abby points and states an observation, “He has long vulva.” I stopped and had to think a minute. Do I say yes and move on or do I tell her the real name? She already knows the correct term for herself. Back in college I took a human sexuality class and my professor talked about using the real names for genitals verses using nicknames with children. A mother of an eight-year-old daughter was in the class and a heated conversation between the professor and this lady ensued. Our professor, a woman, had used all the correct terms with her children and believed that creating nicknames for genitals was the first step in creating a low self body image and feelings of shame towards one’s body. I agreed with my professor, although I didn’t have Abby at the time. My parents used nicknames and everyone always hid himself or herself while dressing like we were all strangers. Scott’s family on the other hand was very open. The mother said it was wrong and horrible, but didn’t have any reason as to why. We tell our kids the correct terms for all the rest of their body. Why make up names? The mother never came back to class after that. I don’t want Abby to be ashamed of her body or be afraid of it. I took a deep breath and looked at Scott who was chuckling and as I was about to speak Scott says, “No sweetie, that’s a penis.” Abby looks at him and goes, “Oh.” That was the end of that.

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