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The Naked Truth: My Kid Keeps Baring His Bum in Public

Photograph by Getty Images

I’m no prude. OK. A little bit, sometimes, about certain things — like the women’s locker room at the gym, for instance. The striding about from wall to wall in the buff ... There are towels for this very reason, lady.

I know. I know. It’s my own minor hang-up to sort through. It’s me, not them. The truth is, if someone chooses to walk around the change room au naturel, do you, sister. (I will draw the line at trudging through public bathrooms and showers in bare feet, though. The level of gross is too damn high.)

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We all make our choices based on what makes us feel comfortable — I get it. Where the fog sets in for me on the nudity question is around my young son and his choices.

At 5, the guy has exactly zero percent inhibition when it comes to being nude in public. He’ll hop out of his swim trunks in the middle of the open water park without a moment’s pause. For him, it’s all about changing out of these soaked shorts, not his bare bum. Once after swimming at pool, he even asked if he could stay “like this” and essentially air-dry on the playground. Unfortunately, that was a no from me. If he’s working an intense LEGO build and his shorts or shirt are affecting his artistry, off they go. And also? Don’t ask him why he decided to drop trou, because he’s working. Sssh.

I don’t want to curb his comfort with his body and being natural, but I also don’t want him to be made to feel strange or weird.

It doesn’t matter if there are loads of girls or babies around (two types of human about whom he can be fickle), this youngster is not studying them. He’s too focused on playing, reading, chilling, being and doing his own thing.

Most of me feels like this nude thing is no biggie. If he’s cool, I’m cool. But as he’s getting older (too quickly!), I’ve started to wonder if I should perhaps break down the concept of modesty to him. He already understands that we all need privacy sometimes, when using the bathroom, for example. (The day he stopped following me into the loo was an unmistakable victory, friends.)

Do I need to extend that successful lesson and introduce the notion of being nude in private? Should I venture into when it’s “OK” to be nude around other people? I don’t want to curb his comfort with his body and being natural, but I also don’t want him to be made to feel strange or weird around other potentially laughing, pointing kids. And, moreover, does strolling through this territory edge up toward talking about sex? Because I’m not ready for all THAT. So, so not ready for that.

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Clearly, I have questions, but no real answers. And maybe therein lies the solution. This stuff will work itself out and worrying about it really helps no one.

My guess is, this nudist leaning is just some holdover from toddlerhood, and we will soon be knee-deep into big boy matters like bike riding sans training wheels. And when it comes to those kind of activities, clothing is not optional.

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