Is it rude to be nude?
Winter is coming, so we are all starting to wear slightly more clothes in the Bell household. Shorts are packed away, we’ve found last year’s gloves, and rain jackets are part of the nursery commute. But when we are not out of the house, we are as laissez faire as we’ve always been, and that includes being naked in front of the kids.
My sons are 2 and 3, so very little, and very happy to have no clothes on. Fat bellies, chunky thighs and creases where the two meet are very normal when you live off fish fingers, and are only 2. I love their bodies, so strong already. They can squat for minutes at a time to examine an ant crossing the patio, and they can climb far higher than I ever expect, meaning nothing is really out of their reach (goodbye Mac lipstick in Ruby Woo, hello modern art installation in the bathroom). And they have such confidence. They revel in being naked. There is no guilt for them attached to eating a chocolate bourbon. They enjoy it for what it is – a delicious biscuit, an occasional treat. They don’t look at it in terms of a reward for calories burned, or feel guilty once they’ve eaten it – the opposite, they clamour for more. And they are proud of what their bodies can achieve, “Look mummy, look at me!”. We could do well to learn from them.
I don’t have that body confidence, but I’m more than happy to be naked at home. It’s not a permanent state, because I’m too tight with the heating for that, and it’s not gratuitous, but It’s more than acceptable. But at what point will I have to be conscious of my children, who will one day be young men, and cover up accordingly? There is a difference between being relaxed and exhibitionism, and we all went to school with the kid whose parents were in-your-face naked, too relaxed to make anyone comfortable. When do we need to be mindful of embarrassing them?
It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to show them what a real body looks like, before Hollywood takes over. To answer questions about my c section scar, or old running injuries. To show them that girls and boys, and men and women, have different bodies. And after a lifetime of body insecurities, it is gloriously comforting to be told by the people who matter the most that, “You’re so beautiful Mummy.” They follow it up with comments about wobbly tummies, but I chose to ignore that.
And it’s been wonderful to be needed – for breastfeeding, for shared baths, for blowing raspberries on bellies. It is magically affirming that your kids think you are absolutely perfect, just as you are. And I know my kids’ bodies so intimately, literally inside out. I shall miss that casual familiarity, born of carrying them inside me, wiping arses, cleaning faces, holding hands.
As long as they are comfortable with their parents being naked at home occasionally, then we will continue to be relaxed about it. As soon as they become modest around us, we’ll do the same. We’ll knock before entering their room. We’ll have mutual respect (I hope) between us and these tiny humans. They get to set the agenda. And we’ll save a ton on our heating bills.