My youngest tries to cop a little feel.
Until recently, she’d be sitting on my lap for a snuggle and before I knew it, she’d have her hand pulling down the front of my shirt to peek in, her fingers reaching in. Or during story time, her head nestled on my unsuspecting shoulder, she’d reach over and squeeze one.
And then she’d laugh. A big, guttural guffaw.
I’d gently take her hands away – Those are mommy’s privates.
I’d turn my head and she’d try again. I’d repeat – Those are mommy’s privates.
As I blocked this adorable hand, I was tossed back to high school. You remember the times when you’d hope to sit on the couch and watch a movie without someone reaching up your shirt. Seriously, these are my privates. I’m not throwing a party.
But this is innocent curiosity – she just turned 4. I want her to know her curiosity is normal. I mean, boobs are interesting; they are not bad or taboo.
I honestly don’t think breasts are that big of a deal. My mom did housework in a bra. I went topless on French beaches in college.
She’s just curious. Her chest is different than mine, yet we’re both girls. It’s confusing to a young mind, and she wants the 411.
Often when I’m about to jump in the shower, my youngest will strip and hop in before me. I’m okay with it (we don’t tinkle alone anymore, right?) and throw on a pair of underwear, exposing my top. She’s made comments: “Wow, mama. I like your boobies.”
It’s as good of a time as any to start the your body talk: When you’re a little bigger, you’ll have these too.
She likes that, and reminds me about once a week. “Mama when I get bigger, I’m going to have boobies too. Like you. V will have boobies too. Not daddy, daddy’s boobies are tiny.”
I’m hesitant to admit it, but once, I let her touch them. A quick, innocent touch. I felt uncomfortable – wondering, is this the right thing to do? – but I didn’t want her to think these were bad parts. I thought maybe it would end her infatuation. Her response: “Your boobies are like a cupcake and a pillow.”
I want her to know that these are good parts, just private parts. So I’ve gone over privacy and respect with both of my girls. I’ve taught them the Underwear Rule: People don’t touch under the bathing suit area without permission. I say something like: Honey, those are mommies’ privates, and no one can touch your private parts without your permission.
I like how at their annual check up their peditrician reminds them that private parts should not be touched without their permission, and even asks their permission to check them in the nether region.
The flash touches have stopped, but her infatuation with my boobs remains. Maybe she just has a thing for boobs (or cupcakes!).
“Mommy, go there,” she directed me to the bikinis at Target last week.
Always game to check out Target’s clothing, I wheeled our cart toward the swimsuits.
“Mommy,” she looked at me in all seriousness, “I like boobies.”
“Do you like boobies?”
Before I could answer, she pressed on, “Daaaaaddy likes boobies.”
I called my mom later that night to tell her the story.
She had a story of her own – about the twins.
When I was 4, my mom got a call from our next door neighbor, “Joan, you gotta come over now. Meet me in the kitchen.”
My mom rushed over and they eavesdropped.
“Ohhh, she’s pretty,” they heard one girl remark.
“Ooooh, look at her. She’s beautiful,” another said.
It turns out, the neighbor girls and I had stumbled upon Playboys my dad received for his thirtieth birthday. And we were admiring the centerfolds.
A few days later, my mom opened my bedroom door to clean behind it only to find a large centerfold taped to the back of the door. Twins!
The apple doesn’t fall far … It seems I was infatuated with boobs too.
How have you talked to your kids about private parts? Do you have a canned response? … Please share. I’d love to hear.
Ciao for now.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project! To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!