Thursday, July 16, 2009

Demon Baby Is a Trendsetter

This appeared in the NY Times and also on today:

And here are my thoughts.

Demon Baby, from the moment he turned two, definitely preferred not wearing clothes. In fact, I began to assume he had a sensitivity disorder because even before he could fully articulate his feelings, he would shriek when I dressed him and pull at the elastic and buttons as if they were hot coals burning his flesh. Once he was old enough to talk, he expressed a preference--no elastic (hence he NEVER wears underwear even if he has sweatpants of some sort on), no buttons, all cotton, all fleece.

I always assumed one day he would outgrow this. And then . . . I stopped caring. He is who he is, free spirit and all.

Now that he is four, he understands that outside the house, there are some social parameters. He will not wear shoes in public most of the time--he goes to church barefoot for example. He will not wear underwear. But he will put on a pair of fleece sweats and a T-shirt (no buttons and very loose).

When we have company, if it's someone he knows very well, he will be naked around them. If it's a newer friend . . . he will wear clothes. He understands that the world has some rules about clothing, even if he thinks we should ALL be naked.

When I read the article, I felt sorry for some of these kids. I really did. I understand that the adults are just being honest--they feel girls need more decorum. Whatever. But in actuality, as a mom of four kids, I realize you spend so much of their lives poignantly realizing EVERYTHING about them is fleeting.

My oldest kids can't have their heartbreaks cured by cookies and a Band-aid (or even a box of Band-aids).

You realize your child will only be utterly AMAZED by fireflies for a short time (though I confess I still feel my heart beat faster with joy when summer comes and I see them).

You realize the world has a lot of ugliness. That the people in it are sometimes very good, but oftentimes . . . cruel.

And so my feeling about my Naked Demon Baby is the world and its wolves are right there waiting. They are waiting to tell him to sit in his seat, and to stop singing, and to put on shoes and to walk a certain way and use an inside voice. They are waiting to tell him to stop giggling in class, and that he "can't" do this or that because it's really not realistic to think you can have a career as a dragon-slayer. They just don't HAVE that category on job applications.

It all comes to an end. The innocence and joy. The world is waiting to steal it from him. To crush it out of him.

And so for me . . . this mom . . . my house . . . he can stay this way for as long as he wants.

There's time for all the rest of it.


Melanie Avila said...

I think it's very true that a lot of the discomfort is a generational thing. When my niece was little she was ALWAYS naked and my sister and I laughed at how uncomfortable it made my mom. She didn't usually say anything, but you could see it was just eating her up. She finally cracked when my niece (then 2 or 3) crawled back and forth through the doggie door completely naked.

Erica Orloff said...

see . . . and I think that's adorable . . . LOL!


P.S. My mom will tell him to put on clothes, but if he doesn't, she doesn't seem freaked out.

Melanie Avila said...

It was adorable! Especially when the dog looked at her like he couldn't figure out why she was on his turf!

pita-woman said...

Hmm, maybe home-schooling is in D.B.'s future, so that he can stay home and be naked 24/7?
While there is a certain cuteness to it, in this day and age you wouldn't want someone taking pix of your nude child and posting them on the internet.

Erica Orloff said...

Most definitely. I realize that there are definitely boundary issues. It is conveying to children there really ARE bad people out there . . . in a way that allows them to revel in childhood. It's definitely a precarious balance.

Nadine said...

I think it's wonderful for him to be such a free spirit!

On a sidenote - I've always wanted to see fireflys! Hopefully one day!

laughingwolf said...

exactly so, erica... blessings to all :)

conley730 said...

I saw this article too and immediately thought of DB! My kiddos used to run around naked all the time, but not so much anymore.

Realmcovet said...

Amen. That is why I homeschooled mine for as long as I could possibly handle it.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

I'm just back from a holiday in Peru and am playing catch up.
A naked child shouldn't be an issue but it pushes too many buttons for it not to be. Bringing up children is a question of a delicate balance on many different fronts and this is just one. I'm sure you are getting that balance right. After all, this is your fourth child, however different he may be.

Natasha Fondren said...

Making sure their child is comfortable naked might not be on every parent's to-do list, but I think it's wonderful for them to feel so. I was always ripping my clothes off when I was young, LOL.

On the other hand, I had a student who wanted to keep taking his clothes off. Usually it was during eurhythmics (rhythm training through body movement/dance) in the piano lesson, and he kept pulling his pants down while marching/etc. It's not that I minded so much, but I got the parent straight away and told him, "He's just playing, I don't mind, but I'd feel more comfortable if you were in the room, too." LOL. What can you do?

Heather Lane said...

I'm so sad that my 5 year old son is leaving his naked days behind. He and his sister were playing in the kiddie pool a few days ago, and he came into the house and said, wistfully, "Mom, I wish naked looked good."

Erica Orloff said...

Fireflies and ladybugs. I still love both!

Erica Orloff said...

Thanks laughing wolf!

Erica Orloff said...

I consider it often.

Erica Orloff said...

That's why I am glad he gets the "company" think now. :-)

Erica Orloff said...

I know. Some things they give up . . . and it's a little poignant.