Last week Violet made her first expression of body shame. After days of dismal chill, we were enjoying a really warm day and I encouraged her to disrobe in the living room. She was sweaty and uncomfortable, but she demurred, "You need to close the blinds first Mama or people will see me."
I was a little sad to see her cross over, but she is almost 5 and I'm glad she figured it out on her own. I prefer for the seed of shame to be a weed, rather than something I deliberately planted. After all, my first priority as a parent is to keep my daughter off the pole and accomplishing that starts with keeping her clothed.
At some point in our parenting journey, the husband and I introduced the phrase Private Time. I'm pretty sure we were talking about pooping, but Private Time has many guises and over the past week or so, Violet has quietly made the association between nudity and Private Time. Like most milestones in her life, she waited to unveil her findings until she was sure she knew what she was doing. I never get to see the wheels turning. She keeps things to herself until she absolutely cannot stand it any longer. It makes for great theater. That much is certain.
This afternoon, the curtain went up on the Private Time Show. The stage was set with a blanket on the floor and an audience of stuffed animals and dolls. I was invited to come upstairs and see what she had been working on and that's when she unleashed the following dialogue on my unprepared ears.
"This is where you have private time, like sex," she said. Pointing to the innocent receiving blanket laid out on the carpet.
"See here, I have the music and you just press his tummy and you have music for your private time." I guarantee the musical Baby Einstein Dragon was not created for this purpose.
"Knuffle Bunny can't wait for private time. Private time is Knuffle Bunny's favorite thing in the whole world. He loves to be naked!"
"You need to have naked stuffed animals around your blanket when you are enjoying private time, NOT humans."
"Stuffed animals are already naked", Violet giggled. "Bear has a ribbon, but he can keep that on for private time."
"Mama, what else can you do when you are having Private time?"
"You know. Private time is just like sex." After this, I ask her what she knows about sex.
"Sex means you are naked." I assure Violet that it's a bit more complicated than that.
"Well, you can jump in the water naked...in the house, when it's not summer. And...you can lay down, without a ponytail, on a blanket on the ground. Naked. NAKED! You can't have private time in the rain. You can only have private time in the house, because the rain can't touch your skin. Well, it can touch your arms, but no where else."
At this point I am just nodding along, waiting for the next epiphany.
"You should ask Mommy and Daddy before you take naked pictures." I'm pretty sure she got that notion from a story about racy cell phone pics on HLN this morning.
"What do you do with the empty spots when you are having private time?" She is referring to the areas surrounding her blanket that are not occupied by stuffed animals, but the adult brain wanders to darker places.
"I should make a jewel collar for my naked time. You have to ask to touch it. You wanna touch it, Mama? It's the most naked collar in the whole world!"
"I need lotion for my private time." I give her permission to use the lotion on the bathroom sink and when she returns she wraps things up.
"Okay. I think I should get naked now."
I'll be in the kitchen, drinking, if you need me.