Thursday, May 24, 2012

On nakedness (and how girls and boys are different)

When Addison was born, there was a lot of nake-nake going on in that hospital room. Hers, her mom's. And all the rest of us, underneath our clothes. Perfectly natural, right?

Addison's nakedness (or "nudee!" as she now likes to exclaim it) has generally been acceptable in our household (much to the older generation's chagrine). I mean, that's how God gave her to us, unless you want to pick nits and say that while in utero she was kind of wearing her mom's body like a massive suit of clothes and . . . alright, so that's kinda creepy. And kinda true. I''ll try to explain: clothing is to keep you warm, protect you from the outside world, feed you through your bellybutton . . . (my wife may demand that I delete this paragraph).

Anyway, we've always felt pretty normal about Addison running around in her birthday suit. Exhibit #1:



And obviously there's a little nudity during diaper changing (look at those rolls. I miss them!). Perfectly innocent, right?


And just for the fun of it, there's this:


I don't know where Addison learned to "assume the position," but I swear it had nothing to do with Lindsay or me. We'd say, "time to wipe," and she'd scramble to do what you see above.

And this is what we do during potty time now, a swan dive into the sink (she's just a little too short to wash her hands by herself):


Addison even used to garden with me, and why keep her in a diaper when she can be free, freeeeeee . . .


Every once in a while, when it was that time, she'd wander over to a bare spot of earth, and mark it as her own. And she'd wander back, and help me to dig some more (it was her great-grandma's garden, who never needs to know). 

More recently, though, Addison has been learning her body parts. She knows where her "bump" is, and now, where her "gyna" is. The other day she walked over to her gramps and told him where his bump and gyna were too, something I don't think he was too excited about. She was just trying to be helpful. 

Since I'm with Addison at least half the day starting in the morning, I've gotten used to bathing us both at the same time. For awhile, that didn't present any particular difficulties, other than that she started out as kind of a limp rag:


She supports her own head now, thank goodness. But now she's getting a little older, and starting to figure things out. The other day in the shower, I glanced at her and she was looking at me a little too closely, a little too curiously . . .


And so we had to have a talk about how mama and daddy are different, a talk that I hadn't intended to have for a while. But, she called it a "poopy," so I didn't really have a lot of choice. I had to nip things in the bud and have a little serious discussion about how what daddy has is definitely NOT a permanent dangling "poopy." And we talked about things that are private, and how she's in charge of her own body, but she can ask mama and daddy for help if she needs it . . . I have this wistful wish that the conversation could have waited until she was leaving home, like, along with her graduation present:
"Oh, we thought you should know since you're going out into the world, you're going to encounter some things that have never, EVER crossed your mind before . . . " 
I can see the limits of my comfort zone. I haven't smashed into them yet, but they're there, oh yes, they're there. For a moment, I admit that I even thought, alright, this is where the women's work starts. Maybe I should just go out and work on the yard and tell Lindsay this is her territory. It's a common perception, right? That men just shouldn't be trusted to deal with a kid's body issues? But then I grew a pair (haven't pointed those out to Addison yet, thank goodness) and decided that you don't get to just turn off being a parent; you don't refuse your kids' questions and you don't submarine learning opportunities. So I guess I'm just going to have to grow up a little with her, not freak her out with my own fumbling daddy growing pains, and help her, step by baby step, to enter the big, wide world. Which means Lindsay and I need to have another round of parenting talks (where did our tiny little baby go!?). And also that I may have to stop bathing myself. Sorry folks.

*I was inspired to write this by a post that I read over on Dadcentric, a dad blog I've been exploring a bit. And some of what I wrote here started in the comments to that post.*

20 comments:

  1. That wipe picture has got to be the funniest thing I've ever seen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She started doing it so suddenly and matter-of-factly. Funny kid.

      Delete
  2. Love it! Absolutely love the diaper changing pic. My son actually explained to ME the difference between boys and girls. As if I didn't know.
    http://justshyofperfection.com/the-difference-between-boys-and-girls/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, you can't keep it quiet very long...too many rumors on the street.

      Delete
  3. I can still remember a two or three year old Addie bending over her little friend and loudly proclaiming "WHATERDOIN WITH A FINGER ON YOUR LEG ETHAN?"
    And then there was the time she pulled me aside in the mall last year (at six) and asked if her dad needed toilet paper when he peed.
    (Little did she know I never knew boys could pee sitting down until I was EIGHTEEN. FOR SHAME.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't say that I was any more informed about female anatomy at 18 either. Come to think of it, it's still a little confusing.

      Delete
  4. You write so well :) A very enjoyable read when a Dad is so comfortable with tricky topics like this!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post Neal, I really enjoyed reading it. Your daughter is lucky to have a dad who doesn't shy away from the parenting challenges :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Melanie. Although, I probably glossed over some things of I expressed that I don't shy away from challenges. It's possible that I wrote about THIS one because it was out of the ordinary NOT to shy away. But, you know, I'm still getting the hang of all this stuff.

      Delete
  6. It's amazing how prepared you think you are to have those kinds of conversations and how tragically UNPREPARED you feel when they actually happen! My daughter used to call hers her 'oh Dinah!' tee hee. And the first thing out of her mouth when she saw her baby brother being changed for the first time was 'He has a penis just like Daddy!'. My mother was scandalized.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, because it's not just what you say, but how you say it, the inflection, the attitude. And when it sneaks up on you, it's hard to have the calm, thoughtful presence that you always imagined in your head.

      Delete
    2. In one of my child development classes, a preschool-teacher-classmate said at her preschool, they were reading a book, or something, about animal's tails. One of the little girls said "My daddy has a tail, ut in front!"

      Delete
  7. The body talk is MUCH easier than the actual sex talk. You have several years, but be ready. It usually sneaks up too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to. When I'm least expecting it.

      Delete
  8. I love the total innocence of children. Being around them has definitely changed, in a good way, the way I myself see a person's body.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely forces you to re-evaluate some things.

      Delete
  9. I just ran across your blog after seeing your mother's day comic, and this post made me laugh so loud at times that I think my neighbors heard me. I have a 2 1/2 year old little girl that's in this exact spot in life and Daddy is having parenting growing pains as well :) Well written, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nicci! Growing up is hard on all of us. But I GUESS I want her to keep growing. I miss the little thing she used to be, though.

      Delete
  10. I had a child late in life 40 to be exact and it was a boy! Yay! His father is rather hands off, and we had plenty of nakey time around our house too. As a matter of fact his potty training included his father's directions to just go pee outside in the yard. So now that he's 12 we've had to have uncomfortable talks as well...starting when he was very little and getting more graphic when he was like 7-ish. So, even though with my daughter, who is 10 years older, I handled all of the girlie vagina related stuff, I'm now in charge of the penis stuff too...for example: You NEED to wear compression shorts with your tight baseball pants because now, everybody on the field and in the stands KNOWS you're well endowed and circumcised. So, yeah, I get what you're going through...just keep it casual and light and no one needs to know we're uncomfortable. :)
    My son is a great, easy going kid and he doesn't seem to mind it at all that it's his Mom giving him direction on the care and discretion of keeping his junk healthy and private.
    Keep on being awesome!

    ReplyDelete