Kids say the darnedest things. How should I respond?

Eliza’s current state of curiosity has her saying some interesting things.  For example, she loves to kiss things to show her love, whether they are inanimate or not.  As she talks about her favorite people, for example, she’ll talk about kissing them.  But she’ll also hear a helicopter overhead and say, “Kiss el-i-pop-ter” or she’ll hear the jingle of the ice cream truck and say, “Kiss eye keem truck.”  Along those lines, our dog, Abbey, poops in the backyard.  I have to clean it up daily so we don’t step in it while playing outside.  Eliza walks around with me to help me spot the piles, and at every one, she says, “Eat poop.”  And I say, “No, Eliza, we don’t eat poop.  It’s gross.  Dirty.  Yucky!”  She’ll repeat me, but it doesn’t stop her from saying it day after day.  Nor has it kept her from sticking her fingers in it sometimes, just because, well, probably because I don’t want her to and it’s so darned interesting.

Now fast forward to this afternoon, when I was changing Zach’s diaper.  She’s really intrigued by his private parts, and I can tell she’s not quite sure why they’re there.  I’ve used the word penis with her.  So she was trying to wipe his penis off with a wipe today, and I said, “I think he’s okay.  His penis is clean.”  And she said, “Eat penis?”  And I said, “No, we don’t eat his penis.”  And then she said, “Kiss penis?”  And I said, “No, let’s not do that either.”

Am I just a loser at coming up with the appropriate things to say to her?  Should I have never used the word penis with her?  I want to call it what it is.  It seems like a waste of time to teach her it’s his “pee pee” only to make her learn a new word for it when she’s older.  And I’m sure she just as easily would be saying, “Eat pee pee” and “kiss pee pee” if that’s what we called it, which doesn’t fix the problem.  She’s entering that, “kids say the darnedest things” phase, and I have to say – I really love it!  Now if I could just figure out the right way to respond …

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