Bare Innocence

Mary Cassatt: At the Window

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) At the Window (1889)

When you’re a little kid, nakedness is innocence.

My dad made a home movie of the first year of my life. Me as a little baby, smiling crawling, rolling around in my stroller, learning to walk, and playing with our dog. This was different time. He shot it on 8mm film, complete with title boards, and spliced it together with a home-editing kit—like something out of the dark ages.

The storyline was simple enough. David’s first year, from new baby to first birthday. But the most embarrassing part for me growing up was the coda, titled “Bare Facts.”

It was one minute of one-year-old me toddling around the living room naked.

For years, my mom threatened to show that video to any girlfriends I brought home, and I threatened to never bring over any girl I was dating, or even considering dating, until she dropped her threat.  I was a teenager, and I was embarrassed as all teenagers are by just about anything, no matter how harmless, no matter how innocent.

After many years, during which the old 8 mm reel was transferred first to VHS and then to DVD, my mom finally got to make good on her threat; I brought Julia home to San Diego for the first time, almost twelve years ago, and they played the whole movie, including “The Bare Facts” for her.

By then I was nonchalant. “It’s not like it’s anything she hasn’t seen.”

“David!” My mom said, shocked.

“I only meant that Julia has babysat lots of her nieces and nephews, since they were that little, and she’s seen her share of naked babies.”

“Oh.”

Okay, that wasn’t what I really meant, but I gave myself an out, and a gave my mom an opportunity to hold on to the innocence as had as a baby, the innocence that I had long outgrown.

And now Julia and I have our own child, who still runs around the house naked from time to time, but not as much as she used to. Anna just turned seven, and she’s starting to understand privacy. She usually shuts the bedroom door when she gets dressed, and she usually doesn’t open our bedroom door when we’re getting dressed. She still forgets sometimes, but she’s getting better about it.

She’s learning that her nakedness is her own, and it’s private. It’s just the first step, but she’s slowly losing her bare innocence.

Five Minute Friday

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2 thoughts on “Bare Innocence

  1. So true. Reminded me of when my children were small, and how it was the oldest who set the pace for when all three began to cover up. Once SHE was uncomfortable with nakedness, the younger two began to learn that discomfort as well. Interesting, huh?

    Like

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