It’s like driving off a conversational cliff when your brakes have failed…

Flea shows off her bottom. Again. There are two sorts of women in the world, in my view: feminists, and women I want to slap round the head while chanting: "Does Emily Pankhurst mean nothing to you?"

Because I’m a feminist, when I had a daughter, I decided she should grow up with a positive body image and no hang-ups about her sexuality. I know she’s only four, but I think it pays to have a plan about these things.

Oh, I felt so smug about my anatomically correct terminology, my casual approach to nudity, my plain-spoken answers to her innocent questions about babies and stuff. God, I am such a GREAT parent.

Except of course, it’s all come crumbling down around me. Right now? I’m sitting in the burning ruins of my good intentions, on the verge of creating an international incident.

It all began innocently enough. The Father bought Flea a book called, “Dinosaurs Love Underpants” and we were reading at bedtime, when we came to a line about how cavemen invented underpants to stop them feeling rude.

What does rude mean?

Bugger. I have no idea what to say. “Erm, it’s when you don’t have good manners. Like if you forget to say excuse me.

But why is being naked rude?

Damn those stupid feminist principles.  “Well, it’s not really. But I suppose if you were at school or something and you were naked, it might be rude, because other people don’t want to see you naked?

I’m floundering and she knows it.  “Does Mrs Edgar not want to see me naked?

Mrs Edgar is our next door neighbour, and Flea adores her. When Flea is naked, and getting into her pyjamas at bedtime, she often shouts out of the bedroom window to say goodnight to Mrs Edgar.

So I say, “I’m sure Mrs Edgar doesn't mind seeing you naked darling, because you are beautiful, but if you went outside to see her and you were naked it might be cold. So it probably wouldn’t be a very good idea, would it?

What about Mr Edgar?

Oh, it’s like driving off a conversational cliff, and my brakes have failed. “Erm, I don’t know that Mr Edgar would want to see you naked.

I think he would.” She adds, with conviction: "Because Grandma says I have a lovely bottom."

I should probably mention at this point that Mrs and Mr Edgar are our neighbours. They are also the head teacher and deputy head teacher of the private school that Flea will be attending from next month. 

So I'm starting a sweepstake: how many days before Flea chirps up one day in class: "My Mummy says Mr Edgar wants to see me naked"?


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 24th August 2009 / 8:14 am

    Aha – I feel your pain and other people’s embarrasment. As the mum of two most naked or nudey rudey dudey (how’s that word for mummy bingo) I too am learning and teaching the boys about appropriateness. That it is OK to be naked at home at certain times, but that stripping off in the supermarket is not “appropriate”.
    I love looking at my boys au naturel, they are stunners and I am sure that they will grow up not wanting to strip all the time, but it is a balencing act between alowing them to be children and protecting their and my modesty.
    Good luck

  2. 24th August 2009 / 9:37 am

    That’s too funny. And of course she will be saying that in the first week.
    I have exactly the same attitude about these things, and exactly the same problems. My son is five now, and I’ve had to tell him not to show off his penis to visitors, and not to make his girl friends strip when they come to visit.
    It’s a minefield.

  3. 24th August 2009 / 9:56 am

    Keep the innocence! Both my boys would be naked all the time given half a chance and they, like Mwa’s boy, would have all their visitors do the same as well – I just find it kinda disconcerting when they both sit and watch me while I am lounging in the bath commenting and pointing out the differnces between them and me…I am an endless fascination it seems!

  4. 24th August 2009 / 7:38 pm

    I don’t have a problem with nudity (in children, at least – I’m not comfortable enough with my own body to walk around naked), but I think Chris has a few issues about it. He tends to ask Rosemary to put clothes on, whereas I’m not very bothered. I think having a child is helping him relax a bit about it, though.
    Chris takes Rosemary swimming every Sunday (we used to take turns, but I can’t manage the walk at the moment). This week apparently she said to him ‘I don’t like your bum, Daddy, it’s got something funny hanging off it.’ and ‘Why do you hold your wee? I don’t hold mine.’ when he was going to the loo. Fortunately, he was amused about it, rather than freaked out, which I was concerned might be the case when we had to cross that bridge.
    I’m sure Flea will indeed say something like that – hopefully Mr and Mrs Edgar will be understanding and not phased by it!

  5. Sally
    24th August 2009 / 9:07 pm

    @Madhouse – I think nudey rudey dudey is a bingo bonus ball, personally 😉
    @Mwa – I told my folks about your comment today- too funny that he makes his friends strip!
    @Tattie – Oh, yes, the commentary. That’s quite tough isn’t it? Cos you’re trying to be all positive and upbeat and they ask why you have stretch marks or why you’ve dye your hair. ouch.
    @Tasha – yes, it will be interesting when Flea first sees a naked man – which she’s never done before. I split from the Father before she was one, and we’re still at the stage of making the chap hide under the bed if she wakes up early!

  6. Gigi
    24th August 2009 / 10:13 pm

    This is too funny. And it’s making me think again about Dinosaurs Love Underpants not to mention Aliens Love Underpants, Pirates don’t change Nappies, and Children should Never be seen Naked(… in public).
    Okay I made the last one up.
    But if I stopped to think about one ounce of the mammoth responsibility I have in shaping my son’s views on life, love, nudity and the pros and cons of lamb chops over pork… My head hurts already.

  7. 27th August 2009 / 6:53 pm

    This made me laugh out loud and brightened my dull day! thank you!

  8. 27th August 2009 / 9:41 pm

    Ah it’s lovely isn’t it, innocence! As a Women’s Studies graduate and most definite feminist, I agree with your trying to give kids a positive body image. My dd is 7.8 yrs and asking lots of questions about hairy bits and breasts lately. It’s all starting to get very interesting in our house!