You know that thing you sit on? No. Not the sofa. That part of your body… What do you call it at your house? Or, more to the point, what did you call it when you were little?
I grew up calling it my bottom. My bottom sat in seats. My bottom hung out of my pants. My bottom was frequently threatened with spankings. My bottom got me through a lot.
When I was in preschool there was a little boy named Alexis Lee who would get up every morning during circle time and sing “Shake Your Booty.” The teachers (and many of the kids) would roll with laughter, but I was completely confused. What WAS a booty? I asked my mom and she smirked as she explained that booty was another word for bottom.
“So, can I say booty instead?”
“No. No you cannot.”
Imagine my shock, years later, when Alexis, then 14, showed up at my Cotillion class. We learned how to foxtrot together, but unfortunately, shaking your booty was not covered. It’s a shame. It probably would’ve been more useful.
Fast forward about fifteen years and there I am again with my jaw on the floor as Mike tells our 2-year-old to sit on her butt.
What?! you can’t say that!
“Butt.” You can’t teach her “butt!”
Why not? That’s what it is.
It’s just so…
Suddenly the image of Alexis wagging his rear as he danced around the four-year-old room sprung into my head.
My inner-prude, summarily chastised, gave up the fight. We say “butt,” “booty,” and “bottom” in my house now.
Somehow, my kids have figured out the subtleties of rear-end language. I certainly never taught them, but they get it right every time. For example, I’m often called on to look at a “bottom” that hurts. (Oh the joys of motherhood.) Kids come in from the snow crying that they landed on their “butts.” And someone is always dancing around shaking her adorable “booty.”
Alice, in particular, is fond of shimmying side to side while chanting, “Wag yer booty, wag yer booty!” Not only does she do it, but her stuffed animals do it too. Once, holding a flower whose stem had split into two “legs” she twisted it this way and that, teaching it her moves: Wag yer booty! Wag yer booty! It might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve got a lot of cute over here.
But tragedy has struck.
Someone at school told Alice that “booty” is potty talk. I’d like to say that we don’t tolerate potty talk at my house, but that’s a losing battle with three pre-schoolers and a nine year old boy. So our rule for poop and pee talk is simple: You can only use it in the bathroom.
The other day, while Alice was sitting on the potty (with the door open, of course) she announced that she would no longer be saying “booty.”
“Why not?” we asked from the kitchen, outside the doorway.
“Cuz booty is potty talk! No more ‘Wag your booty.’ Wag your booty is CANCELED!”
If Alice was another kid she’d jump at the chance to use potty talk outside the bathroom. But that baby is a rule follower. She’s super sensitive to other people’s feelings, saying things like, “Grey, you shouldn’t play like somebody is dead, ‘cuz dying isn’t funny. When somebody dies dats really really sad and playing is about fun not sad.” This is the girl who’d rather sing herself to sleep than ask for help.
Evidently someone at school had taught her a more appropriate word, but she couldn’t quite bring it to mind.
Then I got this text from Mike:
I’m pretty sure my inner-prude just can’t go that far.
So, if you see Alice, please, please, be sure to tell her how cute her BOOTY is before she releases Wag Your Booty 2.0.