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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    mel from freak parade August 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Okay, aside from how great the post is, I about fell over laughing when I saw that hideous Dora thing.
    My daughter only expressed a mild and brief interest in what was lurking in her..um…nether regions…..and for that, I am thankful.

    The City Gal August 15, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    One of Globe and Mail columnists wrote something like this about a month ago:

    I was in the bathroom (doing my business) when my 3yr old son came in and wanted to potty. Soon after he started, he started playing with his penis. Then he asked me if I had a penis. I told him no. Then he asked why. I told him because I have a vagina. HE got very excited and asked if he could see the “bagina”. I said no. Then he asked if he could touch the “bagina” and I said no. Now, when we have guests over, he likes to share some thoughts about the “bagina” with everyone!

    I think it is funny, but also confusing and leaves you lost for words! But then again, it’s part of the discovery journey of life.

    BTW, what is that Dora thing? Is it what I think it is?

    Mrs. Chicken August 15, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    I”m sorry, I am too distracted by the disturbing (possible lead-paint laced) Dora, uh, paraphernalia, to leave a real comment.

    So I’ll say just this: word.

    Her Bad Mother August 15, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    It’s not what you think it is. I know: disappointing.

    It’s an aquapet. A game thing. Push buttons and see Dora flit about. (Which sounds about the same thing, so…)

    Nicole August 15, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    My son is 7 1/2 months old and spends his entire bath every night exploring (and tugging and pulling and feeling, it actually looks like it would be quite painful) his nether regions. He no longer has any interest in any other bath toy.

    OH, I don’t know if you have this book or have seen it before but Sandra Boyton has a board book called The Belly Button Book. It’s all about Hippos that love their “belly b’s,”

    Laural Dawn August 15, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Hmmm …
    It would be rather frightening if your daughter met my son because they could have quite the conversation. He is absolutely obsessed with his body right now.
    (yes, the wonder, I agree, but it’s getting really annoying and frustrating).

    AndreAnna August 15, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I hope you never delete your blog so she can one day read this when she has her own daughter! What a great post.

    I just finished my bag post

    (was too long to link, sorry!!

    Kimberly August 15, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Zen…well, I guess I have to admit she’s a Girl now…Zen Girl came into my room yesterday, stark naked (not an uncommon state around here). She then lay down on the bed, spread her legs wide, and said, “look at what I can do, Mama!” You can imagine what she could do.

    Luckily, this is my SECOND daughter, so I politely, calmly, firmly told her that that was fabulous, but that it something to be done in her own bed when she is alone. I was congratulating myself on my excellent parenting when she stumped me with, “Why?”

    Wonder Baby would quite like The Belly Button Book by Boynton, I think.

    flutter August 15, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I’m on board, as long as that wasn’t one of the Doras that was recalled, because NO ONE needs a nether region full of lead. Just sayin’.

    Kelly August 15, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    It might have been born as a Dora aquapet but I’m sure it will see some spelunking in its time (recalls notwithstanding).

    My son, surprisingly, does not seem to be as into his penis (yet) as he was into his belly button…and everyone else’s belly button.

    my minivan is faster than yours August 15, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    I never know what to comment on your posts because they’re so smart and well-written, and well, I am not. I am just your not-so-secret admirer, here admiring you.

    Man, I hope I spelled everything right :)

    motherbumper August 15, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I know there is a Diego joke in there somewhere…

    Manda2774 August 15, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    What is that toy at the end? Please tell me that its photoshopped? LOL

    What a great post. Ava is the same way. She points and talks to it.

    Tere August 15, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Max has the same attitude and does the exact same thing RE: belly buttons.

    But he calls it (shouts) “pipi”, which is the non-scientific Spanish word for “penis”.

    jen August 15, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Ah yes. After much discussing we actually gave M a hand mirror and she squatted over it and checked things out. Much discovery. Much trepidation. But right now it’s all so glorious and lovely that i will do all i can to keep it so.

    thordora August 15, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    We have entered a land where my daughter grabs on for dear life and yells “I have a fantastic vagina!!!!”-I’m so proud of been telling everyone.

    b*babbler August 15, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Some toy designer has a very disturbing sense of humour. I can only imagine what the companion Diego piece might look like.

    Julie Pippert August 15, 2007 at 3:26 pm


    Do you even want to know what happens next?

    Child + Hole + Curiosity + Objects.

    Have fun!




    Lisa August 15, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    I once was telling a guy friend about how my son had discovered his private parts. I cracked a joke about how I was surprised the love for the penis happens at such a young age. And he, who has girls said, “Are you kidding? Girls are just as bad.” I think I might have stood there open-mouthed for a bit.

    But your little woman is very lucky to have such a wonderful mom. My mom STILL can’t say “vagina” or even any sort of slang for female genitalia. Its as if that part of a woman’s body doesn’t exist.

    Heck, she still doesn’t even say “Pregnant” because that word would imply someone has had sex. She says, “expecting.”

    So my hat is off to you and other moms who have a much healthier attitude.

    nonlineargirl August 15, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    My gal has been exploring (and discussing) her “‘gina” for a while. Yesterday (while enjoying pants-free time in the backyard) she said “I have a ‘gina.” “Yup.” “Mama have a ‘gina?” “Yes, I do.” “See it?”

    That’s where I draw the line. Naked toddler in the backyard is one thing, but naked mama is quite another.

    painted maypole August 15, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    hellOOOOOOOO Dora!
    (or should I say Hola?)

    Her Bad Mother August 15, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    It's an 'aquapet'. Which I really can't explain, either.

    Heather August 15, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Oh my, that was hilariously funny and sweet at the same time. The aquapet is sooo disturbing.

    Kyla August 15, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    I’m sure your post was perfectly lovely, but I can’t remember a thing about it after seeing Dora. And now I can’t think of a way to comment on it without gaining you legions of dirty googlers!

    Let’s just say, I didn’t know that Dora was angling to replace Mr. Rabbit. ;)

    Rock the Cradle August 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Giving Dora the Explorer a whole new meaning…

    Jenifer August 15, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Neither of my girls have gone exploring as of yet. You certainly have wonderful attitude towards letting her discover her body for herself. I think I am as open-minded, I really hope so!

    gingajoy August 15, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Dora. A girl’s best friend.

    Oh. yeaaaaah.

    Lara August 15, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    okay, i don’t have time to read the other comments (so sorry!), so forgive me if i’m repeating.

    honestly? my first thought when you talked about her exploring was to give her a mirror. i say let her explore. let her look and see what it’s all about. you can have talks with her about how it’s something for home and not for other people’s houses or school or anything. but still, i say if she’s wondering about it, help her find out more.

    Her Bad Mother August 15, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Oh, the mirror will come. For now, though, she does pretty well getting her head between her legs. She’s pretty bendy. We should all be so lucky.

    Madame M. August 15, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    You’re too funny! And uh.. in a way I”m glad I don’t have a girl.

    (but… and you can shun me as a nerd if you’d like.. Columbus called Dominican Republic India first)

    AdventureDad August 15, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I’ll be very disappointed in you if you don’t write a book very soon. Your writing is so funny, witty, but at the same time serious and with great life lessons.

    I’ve got a similar thing going on at home right now. When my 3.5 year old son Daniel is in the bathrrom or comes out of the shower, my 1 year old rushes in. Not to great him but to pull his penis. Hard. It happens every time. It happens every time but my son is starting to get a bi annoyed now since it hurts…


    Mom101 August 15, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Yeah, Thalia’s big on the gina these days. She really enjoys telling people that mommy has one. Newsflash.

    But actually finding the hole? I’m impressed with your little explorer. It sort of gives new meaning to the lyric, Grab a backpack! Let’s go! You can lead the way-ayyyyy!

    kittenpie August 15, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Okay, knowing how she is about the elbow – I see some interesting moments ahead. Look out, Courtney Love, the word Hole is being reclaimed by a new blonde in town.

    Pumpkinpie has been of course curious about why we have our stuff and Misterpie has his, and has done some distracted handling of it during stories, usually, though I’ve suggested that that is a private activity. One day, though, she came up to me, seated in the bathroom, and contemplated me for a second before she reached out one tiny finger and poked me in my business. “FUR!” she exclaimed. Seemed a little rude to me, given all the maintenance I put into it…

    Her Bad Mother August 15, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Madame M – if I started shunning nerds I’d have an identity crisis (besides – it’s not like he thought that Cuba *wasn’t* part of the so-called Indies. Semantics, semantics – or sloppy geographic history – call it what you will ;) )

    Selfmademom August 15, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Your perspective is very interesting about this and that toy is COMEDY. I wonder if your perspective, or ones perspective would differ any between having a boy or a girl. My son’s been exploring his parts for months now and it makes me insanely uncomfortable! I know it’s so normal and wonderful for him, but it’s hard for me to watch. Like Nicole, it looks like it hurts.

    slouching mom August 15, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for this. I am still laughing. Let’s just say that of my two boys, one is all over his privates and the other doesn’t know he has any.

    And I am sparing them by not revealing which is which, needless to say. ;)

    Kim August 15, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    OMG, I was sitting here for quite some time repeating loudly, “WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?” while doing mental acrobats trying to figure out WHAT that could be….

    so glad to read that it is just a wonderpet…

    kinda reminds me of the time that they had to redesign the castle on the original Little Mermaid VCR case….because the artist that drew the first, obviously, was thinking naughty thoughts.

    anyone remember that??

    mothergoosemouse August 15, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you. I giggled myself silly.

    And I remembered how a little person at my house used to ask to see hers in the mirror.

    Catherine August 15, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    During diaper changes our little girl points and then says “penis”. Then she asks if she can “pull it.” She waits until she’s all cleaned up, then pulls all the skin she can. I correct her with “vagina”, she laughs and says, “no not giners, PENIS.”

    Yep, she has an older brother.

    amaras_mom August 15, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    I remember when I wrote about Amara’s SpongeBob aquapet. Honestly, a Sponge and it’s phallic nature…strange strange toy.

    crazymumma August 15, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    oh wondergirl, cause you are a girl now that you have found your bits.

    welcome. its still a freakin’ mystery to me.

    zellmer August 15, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    My daughter tries to shove ducky up there, too.

    Ducky, you are quite the womanizer.

    Tracey August 15, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Whoa, Dora. Explain to me, how THAT design got through the testing phase? And nobody saw that it looked suspicious??

    Wonderbaby cracks me up. Corinne just grabs during the diaper change and says “TICKLE! Ha!” over and over. Yes. FUN.

    karla August 15, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    What a beautiful post wrapped in humour and insight.

    the weirdgirl August 15, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    You know (and I know this is going to sound off base but really I have a point) one of the reasons I love watching So You Think You Can Dance is I love watching the dancers. Not just in their dance modes, but how truly comfortable they are in their bodies. You can see how it affects their behavior and their outlook, that comfort. The dancers all tend to be very physical, they are always touching or hugging each other, and there is nothing shameful or sexual in the touching. When I watch dancers it just seems so joyous and natural and how it should be, to just rejoice in physicality as part of who we are.

    Do you know what I mean? It’s the way kids are with their bodies, too.

    Phoenix August 15, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    That Dora scares me.

    I’m cracking up at this post and the comments. Mom-101′s is still craking my ass up.

    ps. i did the bag meme today.

    braiding mommy August 15, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    another amazing post. my daughter has been poking around for awhile. I’ve tried to explain that it’s fine her to explore, but in private, maybe not while everyone is in the living room together. she usually shrugs and tells me she is ‘busy’ or ‘working’.

    great dora find too… hahahhahaha

    Mimi August 15, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    I was all very thinky and thoughtful and um, and aha until I got to Dora. Then I got the giggles.

    Munchkin is currently all about grabbing her useless little baby nipples in the tub, and pinching herself and then looking at her hands in surprise. All in good time …

    Blog Antagonist August 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    My boys are 9 and 12 now, and not long ago, Husband oh so gently reminded me that I needed to start respecting closed doors. And my first thought was “AAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHH”.

    We forget that children are sexual beings, just like us. What feels good for us, feels good for them. You described it beautifully. Good for you for not going all histrionic.

    Christina August 15, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Cordy has yet to go spelunking to that region of her body. Right now she’s very focused on mouths, and she likes to put her hands in my my mouth to open it wide enough to look at my teeth.

    Good luck with that obsession! I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Cordy starts asking questions.

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