I was laying in bed the other night thinking about what we used to call our private parts when we were little. I know, sort of an odd thought to be having, but I think it was on my mind because my mother had just told me a story about my middle nephew "adjusting his cup" while getting dressed for his baseball game. She said, "He was playing with his pishy for so long, I was wondering what the hell he was adjusting. He's eight."
We always said pishy (rhymes with dishy) when referring to our "private" area - whether boy or girl. I don't know where it came from or who came up with it, but my entire family said it, from grandparents to aunts to mothers to cousins to siblings. "Watch out for your pishy" my mother would say as we climbed on the monkey bars, "Don't hurt your pishy" to my brother, as he swung one leg over the center bar of his bicycle. Of course, we were also told that we were not to show our pishy to anyone and no one was to see it or touch it either. (Boy, I'm glad I no longer have to follow that rule!)
It ran through both sides of our family, the pishy thing, with both my mother and father. Although my father, he said "peeshy". Peeshy with a very long "e" sound. But then again my father also said "wrastler" when he meant wrestler, "teet" when he meant teeth, and "mout" when he intended to say mouth. My nephews still giggle remembering Grandpa Sal and how he used to tell them their "teet were in their mout." He must have gotten that from his father who said terlet (toilet), olive earl (olive oil) and Terdy-terd street (Thirty-third Street). It must be a Bronx thing.
When I moved out to Arizona, my Mexican-born, gay friend Marco would call me "Pescada", which means "fish" in Spanish. The only reason I point out his being gay is because the pescada thing is how he identified women; as people with vaginas, who in his mind, were "fishy". Although he loved me and the term was used as an endearment (go figure), he also liked (really liked) men. He would alsways say "pescada" with a bit of a sneer, like someone describing a food they dislike. I think he wanted to make it very clear that women were SO not what he was interested in. Well, duh.
So now I'm thinking our "pishy" word may have come about in a similar manner, since "fish" in Italian is said "pesci". Pretty close, huh? Although when we used it, it was so disconnected from that word. We didn't think of it like that, still don't, and we used it for both boys and girls.
If you have kids, you can't have helped but notice how your vocabulary changes. My friend Vicki uses a similar version of "pishy" with her kids, over the years having morphed it into just one word - rina. It started out as pishy, then went to pish-a-rina, then got shortened to rina and on some days, it's even shorter yet - ree. And, it's also sort of come to mean both your privates (rina) or, having to pee (do rina, ree).
Talking about this whole thing makes me think about the words I hate hearing people use to describe going to the bathroom. They are used mostly with children, but still rub my ears the wrong way when I hear them. I absolutely HATE the term, "make". "Do you have to make?" What the hell is that???
The other one I hate is "potty". It's one thing when you refer to the actual toilet as a potty, when talking to a child (even though that still makes me cringe since it's such a childish term), but when you ask your child if he has to "make potty", "go to the potty" or "do potty", I think, "Why don't you just teach them what the toilet is actually called??" It's even worse when I hear an adult ask where the potty is or say, "I have to go potty." It takes all I have to hold my tongue and not tell them they sound like an idiot.
Now you might ask what's the difference between saying "go rina" and "go to the potty". Well, I guess nothing really. I suppose they are both terms that you can use with children going to the bathroom, but the difference with Vicki (or me, when I'm around them) using the terms they made up, is that her children know that it's actually called a toilet, not a potty and they know that the term we coined for going to the bathroom is a word that morphed out of goofiness and fun. They would never, in public or at school or at another person's home say, "I have to go rina." The would ask to use the bathroom or ladies room or rest room - whatever the correct term is.
And if you're an adult saying that you have to "go potty" or "go make" (believe me, I've heard it) or "use the little girls room", I think you need to take a look in your pants to see if you're wearing big girl panties. Because if you are, it's time to stop using that childish term. It's not cute, it's not endearing, it's just stupid.
So do I dare ask what you used to (or still) call your privates or what you say when you have to use the bathroom? And what have you taught your kids?
And please try not to say anything that will make me want to vomit in the potty.
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