We are a pretty modest family. I suppose it’s because of my WASPy, repressed upbringing. Of course I want my kiddo to have an unrepressed childhood and feel comfortable talking about his body. I actually don’t think I’m equipped to do make sure that happens, though. I’ve always been intensely shy, and there was a time I couldn’t even talk about my arms or legs without feeling super uncomfortable. I’ve gotten over that, and I’m very comfortable with my husband, but I don’t have the background or natural ease about the human body that I probably should (that is, at least, if I want to teach my little guy to have that). And I could be wrong, but I feel sure that this is not something I could learn from a book.
I don’t have a problem with him being naked, although he is clothed more often than not, so maybe I do subconsciously. Still, he has his moments of naked time. He recently ran into the room without a stitch on, shaking his tush and shouting “NOODY NOODY NOODY!!”
My reaction was normal, I though, “My God! What are they teaching him at daycare?” Immediately followed by, “My GOD! What are they going to think I’m teaching him??”
When he was younger, I was less concerned about one of us being naked. But, he notices stuff now, and his noticing has coincided with his ability to open doors. In addition to him feeling like any closed door is a personal affront.
Scene in our bathroom, that has two doors: Mommy!! (Pounding on the door. Frantically turning the knob) I can’t get it!! Oh, I know, I try the other door. Mommy!!! (clawing at the knob) This door is wocked too!!
Recently he walked in on me while I was changing, and I tried to play the it’s no big deal thing. By that I mean, I tried not to whip around, covering myself like a teenager just caught with her boyfriend.
“Oh hey!” I said, in an unconvincing casual voice that immediately piqued his interest.
“Hi Mommy!!! I like your… those!”
This is a little ironic, because he had zero interest in my those when I was trying to nurse him.
“Yep! Um.. Thank you! Girls have these and boys don’t.”
“No I don’t” he said, looking at his flat chest. And went away, unbothered, leaving me questioning my words and feelings about that situation, nudity in general, and heck, everything else.
I don’t really think I’m alone in my anxiety about body stuff. When he first discovered his penis (which we call a “peepee” because frankly even TYPING “penis” makes me uneasy, and oh thank god he’s a boy, because I have no idea how I’d manage talking about vaginas at all.) Anyway, when he first discovered his peepee and became interested in it, I asked his pediatrician about how to deal with it without being weird or making him feel wrong about it. She said, “that’s a great question!” in a tone quite similar to the been-caught-changing tone I used with the kiddo, and suggested distraction as a method for handling err…addressing the matter.
I’m sure this is well intention advice, but 1) it doesn’t really address the problem, and 2) from what I’ve noticed, it’s not so easy to distract a male from his penis, once he has developed an interest in it. In fact, I think most males spend much of their lives trying to distract themselves from their own penises (penii?).
When I consulted a friend who has an older boy, she said she told him, “It’s your penis and you can touch it if you want, but other people don’t want to see you touch it.” Such a grown-up thing to say. I hope I can muster that when the time comes. At the very least, I don’t think I’ll blurt, “If you keep touching that it’s going to fall off!!” And maybe (given my upbringing) that’s progress I can be proud of.