The other day we took the kids sledding. Well, Drew took the Diva sledding with some friends and their boys, and I came later to take pictures and keep the Li'l Rascal happy (tough job some days). Anyway, when Rascal and I got there, we joined in the fun, I videotaped Drew going down QUITE a big hill with my fearless Diva daughter, and they even convinced ME to take a turn down the hill. Again. Let me reiterate. BIG HILL. I haven't been sledding in... hmmm. That got me thinking of my own childhood. The only time I ever went sledding? We lived in Atlanta, and my brother and I took a cardboard box down the (very steep) driveway. But by that time, I was old enough for the fear to have set in. The fear I speak of is the fear that was drilled into my brain my whole life. My mother will say it was all my father, but she must have had a modicum of control over our upbringing, so I blame her just as much. Here is the short list of the things I was programmed to be afraid of:
moving fast doing anything (skiing- NEVER, sledding- only as previously described, skateboarding- we got them, and then my dad sold them out from under us)
not wearing your seat belt (this one I'm ok with)
riding a bicycle in the street
I could go on. But do I really need to? You get the idea. So thinking of this paranoid upbringing, I know I'm doing way better by my kids. After all, I let the Diva go sledding with Drew, didn't ask questions or show any freakish concern when visiting the sledding hill. I just cheered her on and took a turn myself. I did SCREAM LIKE A BABY the whole way down the hill, but I WAS going pretty fast...
Anyway, thinking about my "fear factor" upbringing led me to thinking about another aspect of my upbringing. Prudishness. Is that even a word? My parents kissed in front of us. A lot. And believe you me, I didn't want to see any more than that, but I was raised by two pretty prudish people. And it probably turned me into at least a self-conscious person, if nothing else. Put it this way (and I hope this is not TMI), I never saw my parents unclothed. I don't know if I ever even saw my mom in her bra until I was much older (like out of college), and we were in a situation where we had to change in front of each other. With my own children, however, this is not the case. I mean, they follow us into the bathroom. (What did my parents do? They must have stuck me in a playpen!) I'm not going to live my life hiding myself. The human body is natural, and I think my daughters will benefit from my husband and I not shying away from the inevitable. They will see us nekked. And it's no big deal. There's no shame in that.
Which brings me to... tonight's conversation with the Diva as I'm putting her to bed. So, I tuck her in, and she looks up at me and smiles.
"Guess where my hand is?!"
She pulls down the covers and shows me. Hand in underpants. Yikes! What do I do or say now that won't traumatize her?!
"Oh, ok, Div, take your hand out of there?..."
She giggles, holds her hand up to my face. Says something about how she had her finger in her vagina.
"Um, do you want to wash your hand before bed? I know that might feel good, but since you peepee out of your vagina, you might want to wash your hands. (WTF?!!! I have NO IDEA what to say here.)
So we go to the bathroom, because she DOES want to wash her hands (after sniffing it a few times) and she looks at herself in the mirror and says (I shit you not), "Finger in the vagina. It feels GOOOOOOD!"
I had to smile and laugh with her, because what else could I say?!
Then, on the way back to bed, she has me smell her hand, which now smelled like soap. And I gave my THREE YEAR OLD night-nights and prayed she would sleep well.
Of course I waited too long to get the full story down verbatim, but you get the gist.
Boy, my parents would have had a heart attack. Or something. Still, how to handle these situations? No matter what kind of parent you are, there are clearly no clear answers. Or are there?