Q&A: germs and private parts

I'm going to put up a regular Q&A tomorrow morning and then a "heeellllpppp meeeeee" post Wednesday evening for anyone who needs to sneak away to the computer to vent about adult expectations of preschoolers sitting through a seder that doesn't even start until 8:30, etc. I'll post something light and reader call-ish for Thursday and Friday for those of us still in the middle of Passover or heading into Easter weekend. (Those of you who don't celebrate either holiday can just drink some corn syrup-free Coke and eat some chocolate eggs and gloat.) Monday we'll pick back up again with regular Q&A.

Linda writes:

"I'm trying to find an appropriate,straightforward way to discuss germs with my almost three year old daughter. Of particular interest are talking about the germs in her diaper area, meaning, how do I explain why she needs to wash her hands after exploring that area? I really want to stay away from the germs=dirty=bad and introduce a potentially harmful association in her mind between germs and her privates. Those were the messages I received and am still trying to recover from them!"

Hmmm. It never occurred to me that my kids would think their parts were dirty or bad when we were talking about germs. Maybe it's easier with boys because they're just so enamored of their penises...

The way iexplained it was that poop comes out of your butt, and pee comes out of your penis, and you sweat because you run around. All that combines inside your underpants and makes it stink. And that's why we have to talk baths regularly, and make sure to wash our hands after we use the bathroom or touch ourselves. (And we also have to wash our hands *before* we use the bathroom if we've been doing anything that could  put germs on our hands, like taking the subway, so we don't get extra germs on our wonderful parts.)

That makes the private parts things that *get* dirty and need to be washed regularly, like our hands, instead of things that *are* dirty.

How did the rest of you talk about this? It's important, this giviing kids a healthy respect for their private parts.

And, since we're talking about it, how do you recover from messages that your own special parts are bad? (My method--ruthless self-anayysis + brutally honest male friends + burlesque workshop + fantastic boyfriend--isn't for everyone.) There have to be plenty of us who have come back from that or are on our way.