There’s a question that every parent asks his or herself. When is the right time to stop being naked in front of their kids? Experts will tell you that your child will intuitively know when life should become more private. These are the same experts who tell you kids will know when they’re ready to stop wearing diapers or when they’re ready to start sleeping in a bed. Once you’ve had a kid, you know this is complete and total bullshit. Sitting in one’s own shit is a minor inconvenience most kids will endure as long as their playtime isn’t interrupted by the time-taking task of walking three feet to the toilet.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of family nakedness. I’m a pretty private gal and definitely not a naked one. I’d never even consider a three-way based on the fact that I’d never want someone to have a view of my ass for that long.
Some ladies are uber-naked. There are the same women who have no problem standing in the gym locker room having a full conversation with you while they wear nothing but their shoes. While these naked-fans are spread eagle applying moisturizer to their uterus, I’m painstakingly trying not to look down. Even when you're naked, I'm uncomfortable.
But being a parent means surrendering one’s privacy. Kids see closed doors as obstacles, not deterrents. You can live in a mansion, but your children will always want to be within 27 centimeters of you. That means you’re going to have to be naked in front of them. I’ve gotten used to having no privacy, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
Having no privacy means children looking at your body like a science experiment while you wonder if today is the day you should teach the kids about privacy. While changing one time in front of my three-yold girl she looked me up and down and said, “When am I going to get big ones?” I prayed she was referencing my boobs and not my hips.
A friend was standing seemingly alone in her steam shower only to wipe the glass door clean to find her two boys standing in her bathroom curiously expressing their disappointment that their Mom didn’t have a penis. And another friend sent her son into a tailspin when he caught her changing for the first time after her recent breast implant surgery. At 4, he couldn’t quite figure out what had happened. All he could say was, “Mommy, something looks bigger.” Indeed, he was right. These are all times when a Mom thinks to herself, “Yup. Time to stop family naked-ness.”
Or, when this happens.
I suggest the kids jump into the shower with me. It’s been a long day and I haven’t had time to shower. It’s their bath time, so why not save some water and time?
I’m rinsing shampoo from my hair while my son plays in the water. He's 6 and learning to read. So in between asking me random questions I'd never be able to answer like if whales have feelings and which dinosaur is my favorite, he practices spelling things. "Up," he says. "U.P.," he says proudly. We do a soggy high-five and he goes back to playing in the water.
I'm thrilled knowing that a little lightbulb is switching on in his head. Suddenly letters make words. Words make stories and books. A whole world is about to open up to him.
“Mommy,” he says after spelling his own name a few times. “Why do you have a vagina?”
I'm taken aback. Suddenly, standing mid-shower with my 6-year-old, I realize today may be the day to get more private. “That’s just how God made us,” I tell him. “That’s what makes me a girl.”
“What does it feel like?” he asks.
“It feels like…skin. Just like an arm or a leg,” I answer assuming this is the end of the conversation.
“Oh,” he says disappointed. “I wish I had a vagina,” he says with envy.
Then he starts to spell it, as if he’s in a spelling bee. “Vagina.” he says with certainty. “P-A-G-I-N-A. Vagina.” Now I'm not just concerned he's going to school tomorrow and recite his new favorite word, I'm also concerned he's going to spell it wrong.
He moves on quickly to another subject wanting to know why he has to live in a world without pirates, who made God and how many people are in the Chinese army. He’s on to other subjects, but I'm not. Because I know that this will be the last shower. He’s growing up. His life is moving forward. That means my door is closing, while others are hopefully opening for my son.
I get sad thinking about what it all means. It’s not that I’ll miss being looked at like a science experiment or being walked in on in the bathroom mid-tampon, but I’ll miss my kids. They won't always be little and innocent. They won't always want to be within 27 centimeters of me. They won't always want the door open, but it's time. I know this.
Experts may tell you that your kids will know when it’s time to make a change, but they’re wrong. You’ll know. Once your kid can spell pagina, he shouldn’t be seeing yours. You’ll miss him, but he’s growing up. And so are you.
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