Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Toddlers and Nudity

A Journal Entry from December 8, 2003

I have distinct memories of my mother chasing my little brother all over the house, the latter buck naked and laughing while the rest of us kids merrily shouted “Adam! Adam!”—good old Sunday School. I don’t recall whether my mother was laughing or exasperated. I think it varied, as this was a regular occurrence at this stage in my brother’s life. He must have been only 2 or 3 years old, which would place his innocent exhibitionism among my earliest memories. Over the years, I have related this story of the streaking toddler on several occasions and have always felt that this experience was somehow unique to my brother or, at least, fairly rare.

I have come to discover quite the opposite. Toddlers and nudity are inextricably connected, and additionally connected with running. As a parent with many friends who are parents, I’ve heard dozens of stories of gleeful, pudgy blurs tearing around houses in their birthday suits.

Is it the freedom of being able to move about unencumbered by binding clothing? Is it the gratification of being chased, knowing you have the full attention of the pursing parent? Or is it something more primal, more innate? Perhaps there is some unconscious connection to our ancient ancestors darting through African Eden unfettered even by fig leaves.

I wonder because I found it sort of bizarre when, as I was preparing Gavin for his day, he glanced down at himself as I finished removing his pajamas. He had been calmly sitting in my lap, his attention focused on PBS Kids, but upon noticing his “between clothes” state, he looked up at me with his huge, dark eyes and said, “I naken,” and took off like a shot.

Was he tapping into the collective unconscious of millennia past and frolicking freely in Eden? Or was he simply waiting in gleeful anticipation of his mother shouting, “Gavin! Come back here!!!”?

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