Children, especially young children, are natural nudists. So it seems to me, who was once a child and remembers being one, once dealt with sisters and cousins, once worked at a daycare center with children below the age of five, spent 24 years teaching middle school students, mostly 7th graders, raised two boys and one girl of my own, and for a few years had a backyard pool fenced in for skinny-dipping. Every child I ever knew went through a period of liking to go naked. (Though I have to admit that I never saw a middle-school student naked, nor would I ever want to, but only know about their nudist ways from talking to them and reading their journals where they often talked about things so personal it shocked me a bit and made me wish to un-know it.)
During my own preschool days, I loved taking a bath, especially with Mr. Bubble or other bubble-bath soap in the tub with me. I liked the feel of it all over my naked self. It was a sensual experience that I reveled in. But one time at Grandma Beyer’s house my nudist’s enthusiasm got curbed after bath time was over. I went out into the living room naked without my pajamas. My Grandma Beyer knew how to say, “No,” to children. But she had never threatened corporal punishment until that time.
“Put your clothes on, or Grandma will spank you,” she said. And that is all she said. She used that old farm-wife voice that promised painful hyde removal if I offered any defiance. She had never threatened me with discipline before, that I could remember, And she never did again that I know of. Nor did she have to. The message was conveyed. And from that moment on, I was led to understand that enjoying a state of personal nakedness was only the most private of things. If that had not happened when it did, then I think I would have been a lot less shy about nakedness as I grew.
And then there was the time when I was routinely being babysat after school at my Uncle Larry’s farm along with my two sisters and my baby brother while Mom worked as a nurse on the 3 to 11 shift. Dad didn’t get home until 6. I was probably 8.
Uncle Larry had a barn. And I was allowed to play alone in there as long as I stayed away from the hogs who could be dangerous and didn’t get cow poop on myself. The hay loft was a wonderful place to get naked and play around, jumping from the top of a high stack of bales into the pile of scattered hay below. The straw was always rather scratchy and unpleasant if you plunged into it butt first, but the thrill of flying and spinning through the air naked was glorious.
But, the clan on my mother’s side of the family was made up of mostly girl cousins, there being seven of them between me, the eldest cousin, and the other two boys, one of whom was my baby brother. And girls, especially evil cousin-type girls, glory in embarrassing boy cousins. My sister and the oldest of Uncle Larry’s girls caught me with no clothes on in the hay loft one day. I scrambled and dressed myself faster than I ever had dressed myself before. My face changed colors in ways I had never done before either. And both of the girls tried to further embarrass me by pulling down pants and underpants to show off their girl parts. I hid my face and pretended not to look. But I also learned that I liked naked girls that day. I did sneak a few peeks. It was, of course, a couple of years before my friend Wilford told me the facts of life (though that probably didn’t matter since most of what Wilford revealed to me was totally false information.)
It occurs to me now, 58 years later, that it probably would’ve been better to get the real facts from my Mom, the registered nurse, or from my Dad before this all happened. We could’ve maybe innocently played naked in the hay together knowing full well what not to do and what was really bad in that situation. But as an innocent child, curious but clueless, all I could do was fumble about and worry that I would burn in Hell for doing what I was told was wrong, but I really enjoyed doing. (My Mom could’ve told me the facts of life, but she assumed it was my father’s place to do that. And Dad thought Mom would take care of it since she had the medical training. That’s my excuse for being ignorant, and I’m sticking to it.)
Looking back on it now, with the full knowledge of a well-read adult, I think it is a fact that children have a natural affinity for nudism. And like the many other things like creativity and wonder that we train out of them before they reach puberty, maybe we should be encouraging it instead.
Now that I have offended you and made you swear off my blog forever, let me remind you. This is a humor blog. But that doesn’t mean I don’t really believe some pretty crazy stuff.