“Look, it’s an ice cream cone!”
I turned around to see my youngest son doing some impressive puppetry with his weenie. I will hand it to him, it did look like an ice cream cone. As it turns out, he was able to do several fairly realistic looking impressions with his junk. Prepare yourself, Canada’s Got Talent.
Another time, I was laying on the couch with my eyes closed, and I felt my son stick a toy on my head, because no child can allow their mother five freakin’ minutes of relaxation. Hell-bent on keeping my Zen going, I kept my eyes closed for several minutes longer, toy on my head and all. Eventually, my then three-year-old could contain himself no longer. “Open your eyes and see what’s on your head, Mommy!”
Yup. His penis. I had been chilling on the couch for several minutes with toddler peen on my forehead.
In stark contrast, I have not seen my almost 10-year-old naked in several years. He is intensely private with his body, and I respect that.
Recently, my youngest, now five, has taken a cue from his older brother and wanted privacy getting dressed, etc., and I respect that too.
My attitude towards my children’s modesty is to take all of my cues from them and their comfort levels. If they are comfortable being naked in front of me, I am okay with that. If they are not, I am okay with that too. If, as is often the case with my five-year-old, they are letting it all hang out one day, and want strict privacy the next, I respect that as well.
I have no desire to see them naked, but I want them to be the ones to decide how comfortable they are with their bodies and how much they show of them. Of course, we talk about time and place. You need not worry about coming across my five-year-old swinging in the breeze in the frozen food aisle. But at home with immediate family members is a safe place for them work out what privacy means to them.
Another reason that our house is somewhat clothing-optional is because I want them to see that I am comfortable being naked in front of them sometimes, and other times not. My sons see me naked sometimes, and once again, I take my cues from them about whether they are comfortable with this or not. They have not so far expressed a problem, but if they did, I would respect that.
I’m not talking nudist level undress. I do not do naked fashion shows. But if they come into my room in the morning and find me naked in bed, or see me getting changed, or coming back to my room from the shower, I am okay with that.
They are bombarded with images of “perfect” bodies in the media, and that is only going to increase as they get older. In particular, bigger bodies tend to be dressed specifically to hide as much of the “offending” body as possible, while toned bodies are frequently dressed to reveal.
As a “plus-sized” woman, I want my sons to know that women come in lots of shapes and sizes. And in addition to that, contrary to what is implied by the media, it is okay for bigger women to show some skin too and be comfortable with their naked bodies. I am hoping that this message will get across to them and stay with them subconsciously as they grow and develop attitudes about women.
In addition to body shape, I want them to know that women’s bodies are flawed. We have stretch marks and moles and uneven skin tones. And sometimes, we don’t shave, which is fine too. By not making an effort to hide this from them, I want them to know that despite my flaws, I am comfortable with my body: a message I want them to retain about their own bodies and those of others who are not air-brushed cover models.
I also want them to know that sometimes I want my privacy too. Just because I am okay with baring my body at one point in time doesn’t mean I always want to, and that my wishes need to be respected. When the time comes, I want my boys to know that seeing someone naked once, twice, or 600 times does not entitle them to invade someone’s privacy or body. Allowing them to see me naked sometimes but wanting privacy other times is an important lesson in consent. Just as respecting their right to be seen or not seen naked is.
So, while everything on my body may hang low and wobble to and fro, I let my boys see it anyway and will continue to do so until any of us feel uncomfortable. But I will refrain from perfecting a puppetry act.