Ahh… children. How curious they are. How very interested in the world around them and how everything works. Almost all kids have a natural curiosity about their bodies and how they are similar or different from other kids or grown ups around them. The questions they ask about it can be embarrassing, but as responsible adults, it is our job to answer them maturely and with discretion according to their age.
My son has a voracious curiosity about the human body. He can tell you all sorts of medical facts about how it works, and he is currently extremely curious about his private parts, and those of other children. During the Christmas holidays, he managed to suggest a great game of ‘naked dancing’ to all his little cousins, and this is how five little kids ranging from 2 to 6 were found in a room all dancing merrily with no clothes on! Now, this is something that most kids will get up to at any point in their growth and learning cycle. I think the curiosity is especially strong in an only child who has not had the opportunity to examine a baby brother or sister during nappy changes or bath time. I also understand that there are adults around who don’t really understand why kids do this sort of thing or that it is perfectly normal.
The experimentation of children when they get a few minutes outside of adult supervision does need to be handled delicately. Unfortunately, in the case of the ‘dancing nudies’, the adults who discovered it were not used to this sort of thing and proceeded to be horrified. I understand their reaction, I just regret the consequences of it. One of the adults saw fit to order all the kids out of the room (perfectly fine and appropriate of course!). Sadly, they then came and announced to the room of adults below who the suggester of the game was and what they were doing. I have mentioned before that my little boy has an anxiety disorder centered around shame. While he has many ‘problems’, wanting to be naked and wanting to see others the same way, is not one of his ‘problems’. That is a perfectly natural and normal thing.
The consequence of the adult’s insensitivity and fear was that my son went crying from the room calling himself ‘stupid’ and wishing he could just ‘be dead’. 😦 – Clearly not helpful in teaching him appropriate social behaviour.
Luckily, despite his anxieties, he is clever and usually willing to listen to reason. Once I had explained to him that I know he wasn’t trying to be naughty, and that he just needs to understand that in general people don’t think it’s OK for kids or adults to be naked in public or at family gatherings, he was able to calm down and start thinking about it in a more logical manner. I do think it’s a such a shame that so many adults put an adult connotation onto the things kids do and say and think. What my son did was perfectly innocent. He told them to keep it a secret, but only because he knew for whatever reason, they probably shouldn’t take their clothes off. Even his knowledge of that rule and keeping it a secret was a completely innocent thought.
Even sadder was the fact that I started noticing at later family events, if my son and his little cousins were heading from the garden to the house, or anywhere where they might have been alone, instead of being mature and responsible, and proactively following the children quietly to ensure that they weren’t ‘up to anything’ (as I do now whenever we attend any function until he is over his curiosity), there were adults shouting sternly at my son “No! You can’t go inside together!” or if he put his arm around one of his cousin’s or smoothed her dress, people would look at him suspciously and say, “don’t touch her! Come on, you go that way, and you go that way.” Sad, and kind of sick in my book to make a child feel as if they are doing something wrong in that way.
The beauty of my son’s logical mind in the face of all this? He asked me one day;
“Mum, do you think that when Julia Gillard gives up being the Prime Minister, I could do that job?” I said,
“Sure, of course you could. Why do you want to be the Prime Minister?” (then gave him a brief and simple lesson in how Australia votes for the Prime Minister, and that it has to be an adult).
“Because the Government makes the rules, and if I was the Government I could make a rule that adults can stop thinking it’s naughty for children to dance naked!”
Now if that’s not ‘sticking it up’ the uninformed and overly uptight adults, what is?