Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Little Too Comfortable in Their Own Skin

Just this morning my husband said to our 4-year old daughter, “Leah, don’t you think you should at least put some underpants on?” She was completely naked, sitting in front of a heating vent. Thereafter followed a short lecture about modestly to which she responded, logically, “But my clothes are right here, Dad.” And she was right; her bare bum was practically sitting on them. Lesson lost.

I love how uninhibited children are. Just last summer my kids discovered that if they turned the hose on low enough, they could make a huge mud puddle to wrestle in long before being exposed by Mom. The first time it happened, I plucked them all up and dropped them into the tub. By the time I had gotten clean clothes for everyone, Zack had slipped out of the bathroom and was back wallowing in the mud, naked. Of course, by the time I reached him no one could tell that he didn’t have any clothes on. That little boy, nearly three now, still loves to strip down to his skivvies. In fact, I have to man-handle the kid to get him to keep his pull-ups on.

And then there’s Leah. Sweet, sweet Leah. Last week we were at McDonald’s having breakfast with Rich’s great uncle. She ran from the playland to tell me she had to go to the bathroom. And as we walked away from our table I looked back to see that the girl had already pulled her pants down to her knees and was waddling behind me. “Leah,” I whispered, loudly, pulling her pants back up with one quick finger, “We don’t pull our pants down until we’re right by the toilet!”

We’ve had countless talks about the private parts of our bodies and how we need to keep them covered. We recognize that it’s a fine line we’re walking: keeping our children clothed without causing them to feel shame at what’s beneath the clothing. But from the look of my bare children traipsing through the house, they know no shame.

But there are surreal moments when my children demand privacy. Leah squeals every time Zack barges in on her in the bathroom. “Zacky, I want privacy!” And just yesterday while at church, I was coaxing Zack to use the toilet. As he sat in the stall, he yelled at me, “Mommy, I want pry-acee!” To which the lady in the next stall giggled.

Okay, so we haven’t achieved that perfect balance yet, and until we do I’ll have to endure odd moments when my children are uninhibited and naked, probably in public.

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