Where Dora Don’t Go

August 15, 2007

WonderBaby has discovered her nether regions.

She’s known that they were there for some time, of course, but she hadn’t really done any, um, exploring. But she’s recently discovered what a fascinating area it is, and has been checking it out at every opportunity.

The character of her exploration, however, is not the idle tourism of which I’ve sometimes heard other parents speak. It is not the casual, inattentive perusal of parts hitherto unknown, the distracted poke or prod, the almost accidental discovery of something only mildly interesting. No, WonderBaby’s discovery of her nether regions has the character of World Historical Discovery of Continents, Peoples and Artifacts. It is Pytheas, Marco Polo, Columbus, Ponce De Leon, Indiana Jones and Jean Luc-Picard. It is Thule, Xanadu, the undiscovered Americas, the Fountain of Youth, the Holy Grail, the Next Frontier. It is accompanied by hoots and hollers, exultant cheers and the unrestrained brandishing of flags.

It really is quite something to witness. It goes something like this:

(Tear off diaper. Probe unexplored regions.)

Lo! What is this? A cavern? A tunnel? A secret passageway to Teletubbylandia? Whatever could it be? Wherever does it go?

(Rubber Ducky is dispatched to investigate.)

Lo! Ducky cannot proceed! What prevents his passage?

(Run to Mommy.)

“Mommy look!”

(Squat. Point.)


(Attempt to get hand into hole.)


(Withdraw hand, which, for better or for worse, does not fit.)

(Demand explanation from Mommy.)

“Whassat?!?! Whas DIS?!?! HOLE?!?”

(Mommy has lost her words.)


With all of the authority of Columbus proclaiming Cuba to be India, she decides that it is, indeed, a hole, and proceeds to investigate, by standing with legs splayed and head bowed in an ineffectual effort to get a firsthand look. There are more hollers and shouts and proclamations of discovery, and then, finally, she loses interest until the next time she rips off the tearaway pants that are her diapers and discovers – LO! - that there is still – OMG MOMMY LOOK! – a hole there. At which point we repeat the same scene.

It’s a scene that is, for me, at once heart-lifting and heart-lightening and all-out discomfiting. It’s funny, obviously. And touching: her discovery of herself as a living, breathing, sensual being is a wonder to behold, a reminder of the miracle that is life. But it’s disconcerting, too – largely because, I think, I (we?) have forgotten how simple and natural it is to take joy in the miracle of our physical beings. For WonderBaby, the discovery of her nether regions is exciting – but so too was the discovery of her elbow, and the daily re-discovery of the elbow, and the ongoing experience of discovering what the elbow does and how the elbow works and oh, look! Everybody else has elbows, too! The hole is pretty cool, but oh man have you seen the elbow?!? And – wait what’s this? – THE BELLY-BUTTON!

(Ah, the navel. It is by far her favourite body part and it is an ongoing source of great delight for Wonderbaby to discover that other people have belly-buttons, too. If you meet her, she will invariably shout Button! and lift her shirt or her dress to display it, proudly. And then she will expect you to do the same. This goes over very well at parties.)

(We are very much hoping that she does not invent a similar game for The Hole. That might not go over quite so well at parties. Well, at least not at the sorts of parties we attend. It would, however, have brought down the house at BlogHer.)

Wonderbaby’s body is, for Wonderbaby, a vast, underexplored landscape, full of fascinating turns and corners, peaks and valleys. There is nothing dark or scary or shameful there - it is all miracle. It is all wonderful. It is all fun. If I get discomfitted – beyond the mild maternal discomfort at the prospect of Wonderbaby exposing herself under inappropriate circumstances – it is because I have forgotten the joys – those simple, natural joys – of the body as simply body. It is because I have lost those joys, perhaps, beneath the many, many layers of maps of shame, imposed by a culture that regards the body solely as an object, something separate from our natural being, something to be sexualized, commodified, or mortified.

This, then, is just one more lesson from my child: reject the maps. Be your own explorer. Exult in what you discover. Visit – and celebrate – the elbow, and the button, and the hole, and all your other parts, and then visit them again, and again, and again.

Just be careful about sending Ducky in. Ducky doesn’t know his way around. Dora might, though.

Made in China.


Other stuff that does a body good:

1) The Purse-Voyeur master list is up. Let me know if I’ve missed yours.

2) My Baby Can Read. Sort of. Mostly, she just dances.

3) BlogHers Act Canada is narrowing down its list of environmental causes and needs your opinion.

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    Lawyer Mama August 15, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    OK, what the hell *is* that Dora dildo thing?

    liv August 15, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    hee hee. Peep has been spied rolling around in happy ways… I think she knows not where the happiness comes from.

    nomotherearth August 15, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Dora’s having waaay too much fun in that contraption, methinks.

    Here’s to the land of discovery! May it never cease to amaze.

    PunditMom August 15, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    I love “Be your own explorer.”

    I wish I had had that advice much younger!

    Parent August 16, 2007 at 12:08 am

    BUT does it plug into your iPod or your electric Toothbrush?

    You should be proud for encouraging WB to sing the body electric.

    We all need a bit more of that (and way less of the Dora Dildo, methinks).

    (Kristen, Motherhood Uncensored, Go-to-Parent for Dildos)

    SuzanneSays... August 16, 2007 at 1:02 am

    Laughing uproariously, but at the same time feeling quite left out. I was always at work when my kids were WB’s age, and I missed all the discovery.

    Now that I work from home, I am present for the wonders of puberty…and am blessed with 2 boys and a girl, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have all the laughs and angst a mother can stand.

    something blue August 16, 2007 at 3:14 am

    The body is outright fascinating when you bury those maps of shame.

    I love watching small children point to their body parts, discover the matching word and then point to your body part. It’s like they are asking hey you got one of these? In their discovery they seem to celebrate the similarities.

    jchevais August 16, 2007 at 4:55 am

    What… in the name of all that is holy… is that Dora thing? Ages 5 and up? Huh?

    BOSSY August 16, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Wait – there’s a hole down there?

    Mrs. Chicky August 16, 2007 at 9:57 am

    My puritan/strict Catholic roots scream out in protest every time Chicky goes spelunking, but my evolved self beats it back with a stick. However, I think I might print out this post and tape it to my fridge as a reminder that personal exploration is okay.

    Get back, thee repressed Catholic childhood, get back!

    ~JJ! August 16, 2007 at 9:58 am

    That’s how I feel about it too…

    Her Bad Mother August 16, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Chicky! Spelunking – mwah ha ha ha ha!!!!

    Arizaphale August 16, 2007 at 10:14 am

    I loved this post. I just want to do a ‘snap ‘ with ‘non linear girl’ as my babe at about 5 asked about the ‘hole’ where babies come out. Amazed that there was an extra hole ‘in the middle’ she asked “do IIII have one?”
    (Yes dear)
    “Do youuuuuuu have one?”
    (errr yes)
    “Can I have a look?”
    and just as nonlineargirl said, I felt my liberal parenting meet its boundaries. I gave her a mirror in the bath!!!
    Her other memorable moment was as a younger babe (about 2.5) when I came upon her in the bath being very quiet and with both hands under water.
    “What are you doing pet?”
    “I’m tickling myself.”
    “Uh—–huh…..is it nice?”
    (sly grin) “Yes”
    (deep inhalation) “Well….I’ll just leave you to it then.”
    Having come from a majorly inhibited parenting regime I feel proud of the concept that my daughter is comfortable with her body. Occasionally it comes back to ‘bite me’ as recently, (aged 11) when she arrived in the kitchen one morning in her dressing gown and said “Look Mum” (opening the gown in flasher proportions)
    “Furry bottom,furry bottom!!!!”
    and ran away giggling her head off.
    Still, I don’t think she does it in public :-D

    Anonymous August 16, 2007 at 11:45 am
    pkzcass August 16, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    There’s nothing like watching your boys (8 and 11) constantly have their hands down their pants, then give your husband the eye to tell them to stop it, and find HIM with his hands down his pants.

    Momish August 16, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    My 2 year old is becoming quite the contortionist trying to get at her nether regions during bath time and diaper changes. The simple curiosity and wonder is so touching, like you said.

    Ms. Chicky and I have a lot in common! I just might have to print this out as a reminder to myself too.

    ewe are here August 16, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    This is absolutely hysterical. You go, Wonderbaby!

    When my 2 year old discovered his boy bits, he was absolutely fascinated with them every time the nappie came off. The novelty seems to have worn off now, though.

    When our friends’ boy (same age) ‘discovered’ his bits in his first year, his mom reported that his father was verrrrry proud of him over it. Still can’t quite figure that one out…

    Rocks In My Dryer August 16, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Oh my word! This has me rolling in the floor, as the mother of a two-year-old daughter with a new found fascination for women’s “boombies”. She starts Mother’s Day Out in a couple of weeks, and I’m scared to death she’ll be poking on her teachers! ;)

    Damselfly August 16, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    That Dora thing whatever it is, oh my goodness….

    Wonderbaby lessons are good.

    Oh, The Joys August 16, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I could be down with a little hot Dora action…

    Her Bad Mother August 16, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    OTJ – I would have pegged you as more into Diego. Or Boots.

    Maternal Mirth August 16, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    I have boys. They explored. But they stopped when they found out they could pee outside. All further expeditions were halted in order to mark their territory over much of the Southwest.


    Alex Elliot August 16, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    All I can say is you’re a terrific mother! I find it interesting as a mother how much more accepting moms of boys seem to be about the “explorations” than the moms of girls. Maybe it’s just who I know. At least I hope, anyhow. I have two boys. We have, I kid you not, what we call Authorized Penis Time in our house. Bath time, diaper changes, bathroom time, and bedroom time all qualify.

    Jozet August 16, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Oh yes. What Julie said.

    I’m all for anatomical correctness, but I was never one for “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina”. At that point, my girls were just interested in where the pee came from, so I’d say “vulva” and “urethra”, because that’s just a tiny hole. I knew that once they knew that there was yet another hole down there, they would do the same thing as when they found their bellybutton, their ear canal, their nostril or any other orifice: they’d shove a raisin in it.

    Anyway, this was, as always, a lovely piece of writing and rumination. A+.

    Her Bad Mother August 16, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    Oh, sweet Jozet! An A+ from you is an A+++++.

    Emily August 18, 2007 at 10:21 am

    That’s how you know you have a girl. Boys discover their nether regions long before they are old enough to put two words together.

    That Dora thing is fantastic. I think I got one for my bachelorette party.

    moosh in indy. August 19, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I’m trying to think of something so witty, but it’s proving hard, it should be so easy, damn PMS.
    I did love this however.

    Ruth Dynamite August 20, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    I must have one of these aquapets. Must. Have.

    Not Afraid to Use It September 3, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    The whole “who has what?” has become a daily topic of discussion here at the house. Between her fascination that she and I have the same parts, and her brother and her pappa have different ones it seems that is all we talk about.

    I don’t know that our neighbors necessarily appreciate the shouts of LABIA! PENIS! CAN I TOUCH IT?!?!?!?! all day long. As long as no one calls DFACS…

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