Some families call it the "pee pee," some French people call it the "zizi," and adults have a seemingly endless vocabulary when it comes to the penis, but since the 1970s my family has called it a "Tinkle Machine." We even use the word to describe a girl's "machine" that makes tinkle, too. It felt natural to pass the funny (and useful!) word on to my boy-girl twins when they started wondering about the parts between their legs, and since everyone makes pee, I found it more egalitarian.
If Dr. Freud called the house, I'd stammer and sputter answers to his probing questions about what this word might do to their psyches. Well, I'm not waiting for that call but now that my twins are five, I've received plenty of calls regarding tinklemachines. I've had to defend its use to my son Guy-Guy's preschool teacher, encourage Kitty Cat to use a different user name on Webkinz, and have explained the concept of "good touches" and "bad touches" to Kitty Cat in the context of tinklemachines. Here's what has transpired:
A few years ago, I received a call from my twin's pre-school teacher. The teacher asks if she can talk to me after school about "something." I eagerly meet with her thinking I'm going to hear about something great that my kid did....like maybe his finger-painting today resembled a Van Gough.
"Alix, I took Guy-Guy to the bathroom today and we were talking about peeing."
I was encouraged at the thought of my 2.5 year old being toilet trained, "Oh, great, is he toilet trained already?!"
"Well, no, but we wanted to let you know that at school, we call it a penis."
Now, I'm getting that this conversation is not about Guy-Guy's precocious toilet training ability, "Oh," I reply wondering why she emphasized the words school and penis, "that sounds fine."
Teacher (frustrated that I'm not picking up on her hint that our family lingo doesn't cut it) replies, "Well, what is that word you use at home? Tickle Machine?"Continued on the next page