Monday, May 21, 2012


I didn't post about this immediately, because I've been taking a while to really think about it. I finally decided I'll leave it up to you readers to help me decide. It's not like some big momentous life decision or something, I just need to know if I'm sane or crazy.

It was somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees here in Las Vegas yesterday, so Romeo and I decided to take Tybalt out to the apartment pool for the first time of the season. During last year's pool season, as a 9-month to a 1-year old, we used a large flotation device that had leg holes and a fabric canopy on top and Tybalt would just float and kick and splash in the pool in that. This year, in an attempt to transition to the next "step" we bought him a suit that has flotation pads built into it-- kind of like a life jacket with trunks attached. Anyway, we wanted to see how it works and if it's going to provide enough support or if he still needs his large floating "cabana" this year. (By the way, the answer is no, the suit isn't enough and it looks like yes, we will have to rely on the big float for another year.)

Anyway, sorry, I got distracted. None of the above is the point at all. It was the long way of saying that we took Tybalt to the pool yesterday.

When we got to the pool at about 12noon, there were a handful of other people. It wasn't packed, but it's one of two pools at our apartment complex, and is the larger and more popular one. There were two young-ish ladies chatting and sunning, two older middle-aged women sunning privately, and one other young boy and "his adults." I say "his adults" because I couldn't tell what relation they were to him. I'm guessing one was his father. The other could have been an uncle, the father's friend, or for all I know the boy has two dads. Anyway, this boy and one of the men, let's say "dad" for the sake of this already long and complicated post, were the only other people in the pool besides Romeo, Tybalt, and I. We were at opposite corners of the pool. ("Man #2" was near them but sunning and not in the water.) And all the aforementioned female sunbathers were scattered around. *Just trying to set up the scene for you, folks.*

Now, when we got there, it appeared the other little boy and the gentlemen had just arrived a few minutes earlier, as "dad" was just jumping in and the boy was testing the water. He must have been 3 or 4 years old. Hard to tell because he was small, but he was using complete sentences. And as we arrived I noticed he was wearing inflatable arm floaties and swim trunks. In the 5 to 10 minutes however that it took us to get ourselves situated: claiming a table for our towels, sunscreen, Romeo getting in the pool, and me passing Tybalt over to his care, etc, I looked over and saw that the little boy was no longer wearing his swim trunks! "Dad" and the other gentleman were allowing him to wander around, as well as swim, buck naked, with nothing but his arm floaties on! Romeo doesn't wear his glasses while swimming, so he didn't see it, and I couldn't successfully whisper to him in front of everyone. But to me, sitting on the side of the pool, glasses on, fully aware, it was completely obvious that this kid was naked and his little boy body parts were on full display for the entire apartment complex to see! Okay, in all honesty the entire complex of people were not there, obviously, but you get what I mean. Why would they let their chid do this? Our family of three stayed for about 20 minutes and he was still "streaking" when we left. I mean he was walking back and forth between Man #2's lounge chair and to "dad" in the pool, he would get in the pool with "dad" for a minute, and back out, and climb up onto and lie on a lounge chair next to Man #2. All repeatedly. All nude. It's not like I was trying to stare. It grosses me out to think anyone would, plus my Tybalt was adorable playing in the water with Romeo and my attention was focused there. But at the same time it was like a wreck you can't look away from. And yes, I glanced over a few times, mainly to see if this was real. "Were the men in charge of his care seriously comfortable with this? Or had the kid stripped down out of rebellion, and once they noticed surely they would be embarrassed and re-dress him," I thought to myself. But nope, like I said, at least 20 minutes, and we left first.

So, blogosphere-- am I a prude or am I correct that this behavior is really odd and wrong? I know some toddlers hit a stage where they strip out of rebellion and/or curiosity with their bodies. But I think most parents would re-cover their child. Add to the fact that this child seemed older than a young toddler who might do that. Not paying much attention to them when we arrived, I also don't know why the trunks came off to begin with. Choice? Or did the child have an "accident?" If that was the case wouldn't you take your child back to your apartment as quickly as possible to clean up? So I'm doubting that scenario. I do imagine that some parents let their kids go nude in their own backyard private pool, or maybe it's different in other countries and other cultures. (The boy and both men were very dark olive skinned and dark haired, and Las Vegas is known for being multi-cultural.) But still, this is not your own private pool, and this is not, let's just say, a European beachfront. Beyond that, as I alluded to earlier, I didn't want to look because it makes me feel creepy to even have seen it to begin with. I don't want to get graphic here, but what if all the other pool goers hadn't been 2 young women in their twenties and 2 grandmotherly old ladies? What if they let their son do this in front of a pedophile? I'm not saying we have one living here, but you can never be too sure who your neighbor's are in this society. Why would you even risk who might be at the pool (or the beach, or anywhere else) and let your child go naked?

So, what do you suppose the situation was? And what is your take on it? Am I prude or not? Verdict?


  1. I don't think it's a big deal. Three year olds aren't/shouldn't be sexualized. If there was something hinky going on with the dad(s) that would be one thing, but it sounds more like a cultural difference. I'd prefer for kids to grow up thinking being naked (and being happy with their bodies) is perfectly fine.

    That said, personally, no, I wouldn't let my kid go naked in a public place at her age (almost 5) because I know how many pervs are out there (and who habituate places like a public pool). So there's that.

  2. I agree with AAL. I don't think it's a big deal for little kids (under 7, maybe?) to run around naked if they feel like it.

  3. I third the ladies. No big. And while AAL has made me conscious of the possibility of pedophiles around my children, Free Range Kids has made me really focus on dialing down the paranoia on that front. So I'd probably let my kid do it, though I can't imagine him ever wanting to. He's just four, and completely unself-conscious about his body still, and hasn't noticed or asked about why women and men have different bodies. Ergo, nudity is still no big deal for him. My only concern would be hygiene and safety - I don't want his little willy getting caught on any wayward corners, god forbid!

  4. You ladies are making me think, and I sincerely love it. After all, it's the whole point! Thank you.

  5. Here's where I'm at: My issue is not with children going nude. I, like all of you have alluded to, and AAL specifically stated, would like Tybalt to grow up comfortable with his body and knowing that naked is not a bad or weird thing. My "issue" lies with the public nudity. I have been in groups of family and friends where the smaller children run around nude, or at least bottomless, between diaper changes, or clothing changes, or when the kid just feels like going for a "streak." And I'm perfectly cool with that. Because we are all close and relaxed. I actually think it's a positive statement for the child to seemingly feel they are in a trusted space. Kids feed off the attitude(s) parents project. The apartment pool, however, was a very public arena where everyone was strangers. Even leaving possible "creeps" out of it, I just don't feel it's appropriate to let your child go nude on purpose in front of strangers.

    I would understand if he was a smaller child that stripped himself down out of rebellion and the gentlemen had made the decision earlier on that when he does so they won't draw attention to it or make him feel it is wrong. (I have read that is the best approach during that stage of development.) Or if because of a young age, he had a diaper on instead of trunks and it got swollen in the water, started to tear (you know, leak that crystallized absorbent material?) and they took it off and figured he's fine naked for a little while longer while we stay at the pool. But I think, assuming he was around 4 years old, that he's too old for either of those scenarios. And while CM suggests an age of 7 to be appropriate for a child to go naked if they so choose, and I concede to that, I still happen to think only for brief stints and only in the privacy of one's own house, backyard, etc. I want Tybalt to know he shouldn't be ashamed of his body in any way, so around us at home up to a certain age I see as fine, if not a given. But in public, past the point of toddler/diaper/preschool age? Sorry, personally, I just don't agree. While Tybalt shouldn't be ashamed, he should also know he "owns" his body and not everyone is allowed or deserves to see it. (See above re: relaxing around family and friends vs. strangers.)

    But, I owe all of you a big thanks. Because you have helped me process my feelings, and you have also helped me realize that I judged too quickly. It is obviously a very personal choice family to family, and one that each needs to make for itself.

  6. Okay, I think it is completely inappropriate!! At home, in your own pool? Fine. But not at a community pool. If this was a public pool, a lifeguard would have shut that down with a quickness. Simply not appropriate in my opinion.

  7. I also don't think it's a big deal -- maybe it's just the French in me, but a kid running around naked seems fine. I agree with CM, that it is socially acceptable until about 7. If it wasn't for the sun being so strong, about half the time I bring Mia to the pool (at least twice a week since it started getting warm) I wonder why I don't just let her run around in her swim diaper. Baby swimsuits are just for cuteness anyway. And 3 or 4 is still considered a toddler.

    I would honestly just worry about him not being well-protected from the sun without anything to cover him up!

  8. I don't think it is a huge deal. AAL put it well. I probably wouldn't let me child do it, but all the power to others. I don't want children growing up feeling ashamed of their bodies that young. Just not in the pool (from a former life guard who has cleaned up more pool poo than you can imagine!)