This appeared in the NY Times and also on MSNBC.com 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.