Monday, March 7, 2011

Inappropriate Affection

OK, so there's such a thing, but that's not what I'm talking about. The other day, Number 2 (4year old) went to hug Daddy goodbye. (Number 2 currently comes to about crotch level on Daddy, so Dad is constantly in peril from his always-at-warp speed son.) On this day, however, that was not the issue. He proceeded to hug daddy tightly, kissing him repeatedly- on his crotch-  and kneading his hugging hands into Daddy's bum. He wasn't going to stop anytime soon.  I suppressed a smirk as I walked by them headed for the laundry room,  Daddy looked pained, and Mommy laughed aloud. This happens to us all, all the time, when the children are young.

There are several issues here. First of all, we don't ever want to crush the unbridled affection of which our kids are capable. Second, we have to figure out how to convey that whole concept of  self, family, friends, etc. when it comes to bodies and touching so they can function in society. Third, most unfortunately, there are bad people out there, so we have to deal with that whole bullshit deal, with an eye to (oh, how we hope not!) the fact that the very people in whom we've told them to place their trust could turn out to be the bad guys. That one I'll leave alone for now.

My problems in this area are complicated by the fact that I'm not their mother. As a family, and at home, we are readily able to deal with this.
 If I had a dollar for every time I've told #2 to 'stop licking me' in the past month, I could buy myself that flat screen. (If I had the same problem at home, I'd be a very happy woman).
 I have no problem with the  daily conversations-  with both Numbers 1 & 2-   revolving around their penises, and the amazing things they have to show and tell  me about them and what they can do.
 I  unthinkingly remove stray hands from my breasts when they start to distractedly knead at story or bed time.
 I can't count the number of times I have to say- quite matter-of-factly, that some part of  me or them is a private area-  and it's not polite to touch anyone but yourself there, and yourself only in private.

And then we go out in public. Over the years, the hands of small children have  strayed up my shorts or skirt leg just a bit too far on innumerable occasions.  No problem- except  now we're not home. Other people can see. People who  hear them call me Tea, or know us, and might let themselves think that something's not right. Never mind the logistics of toting two boys around-  I have to pee with them, and although I'm very good at keeping me private,  (it's a skill born of a lifetime spent in mostly male environs, where facilities are rare),  Oh! how I love the conversations in public restroom stalls that start with: "Tea, you sit down to tinkle because you don't have a penis, right?" Every mother of a boy has had these lovely talks, but picture yourself in the stall next to us. What is a Tea? Why does this woman have little boys- not her children- in the stall with her. Hell!  I'm not even Aunt Tea. I've been on the receiving end of some pretty pointed stares over the years.

 People unfamiliar with the closeness of a nanny/child relationship could easily let themselves wonder, and part of me knows they mean well. So, here's a heads up:  I care for these kids, often from babyhood, in every aspect a parent would. They don't differentiate  physicality with me from physicality  with their parents.  It's that simple. As the boys- and the girls for that matter-  for whom I care  age, my 'hands-on' involvement, except in an emergency, drops off.  Dad assumes  responsibility for reported 'penis problems' and their ilk. Mom deals with itchy vaginae and their familiars.  However, boys and girls alike still report these problems to me, because, as they see it, as they have always known it,  it's my job to handle whatever is wrong with them when Mom and Dad aren't there. The kids  remain only as concerned for their privacy around me as they are with their parents. If I suddenly shied away, they would think something was wrong. Now you know.

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