Oh man. My one year-old was totally playing with himself on the changing table this morning. He was fairly absentminded about it, so it’s not like I caught him shining the bishop. But still.
I ignored the little guy, since he’s too young for stigma or taboo. (We tried making electrical sockets taboo, and he still pokes at them like a Jehovah’s Witness at your doorbell.) But eventually, I’m gonna hafta tell my son what to call it. It being his giggle-stick. His Alabama black snake. Ankle-spanker.
Predictably, we’ve fallen into the habit of speaking freely in front of the kid. I usually go for shock value, if only to get a rise out of my wife. But soon our son will start repeating the words to which we thought he was oblivious.
Sure he can say moo, bye-bye and kitty. But that’s because we talk to him like he’s a foreigner. I wanna get ahead of the curve before my son starts coming back at me with crap like apeshit, hypocrite, and renminbi.
So I’m trying to come up with the right word. For his schlong. (Schlong is a contender, by the way.)
My list is cobbled together from childhood recollections, snippets of conversation recently overheard at the playground, and a double-blind study of four friends.
Penis: This seems to be the term of choice for most sensible people. I suppose it’s fine for the pediatrician’s office. But it’s too formal. Penis is disqualified as an everyday term for the same reason we don’t say epidermis in place of skin, or automobile for car.
Pee-pee and Wee-wee: Tempting, but too patronizing.
Dinky: Too diminutive, especially in light of Shrinky Dinks.
Winky: I prefer not to think of it winking at me.
Ding-a-ling: It’s the term of choice for Chuck Berry, which makes it a strong contender. The titular song has always been wildly popular despite its sophomoric pleasures.*
Willie: Hmm, I hear this one a lot. But it sounds like a wet noodle. Plus I wanna avoid employing common names – if only to cut down on confusion when making new friends. So ditto for Peter.
Schlong: By far the most kid-friendly of the popular Yiddish options. (Schmeckel and schmuck are a little crass – better at describing people rather than anatomy.)
Wiener/Weenie: Too pejorative. I’m looking for a phallic phrase with positivity.
Hooba-hooba: ¿Say what now? Hear me out. Hooba-hooba comes to us courtesy of my nephews, who have since outgrown the term. It’s a nice, versatile piece of gibberish. It can be silly or benign. It’s innocently suggestive of the more lascivious hubba-hubba. And it’s curiously onomatopoetic, as it employs the “oob” sound found in tube and tuba (from the Latin tubus, meaning “pipe”).
Fox is an only child although I’d welcome a daughter. In the spirit of gender fairness, I suppose I should consider how best to
handle a girl’s genitalia. Hmm, bad word choice. I should probably try and tackle No wait, hang on. In my next blog post I’ll take a stab at OKAY LET’S EVERYBODY JUST CALM DOWN AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH. In an effort to head-off hate mail, let me just say that it would be hard to improve upon vuvuzela.
For my 16 month-old, any word is just a placeholder until he becomes a more prolific and versatile speaker. Like the rest of us, he’ll adopt normative terms in both formal and casual settings. And perhaps he’ll develop a more nuanced term for special circumstances.
As for me, I’ve always called it Mr. Tibbs.
* Fans of Chingy’s ’03 hit Right Thurr may be surprised to learn that Chuck Berry put his stamp on the St. Louis slurrr 31 years prior. (Listen for Chuck’s pronunciation of turrible at the 1:46 mark on My Ding-a-ling.)