18 September 2007

Ask the Experts: Toddler Nudity - Why?

Transcript of panel discussion: 18 September 2007.

We're on location today, here in sunny Middle of Nowhere Island, on a beautiful beach to discuss the preference among the toddler set for stripping down as often as possible and remaining naked indefinitely.

There have been some last minute changes to today's panel, but I think we've managed to get everyone here. Allow me to introduce today's experts.

From left to right:
Queen Elizabeth, the virgin queen, Barbie, here today representing Ruth Handler who had a very important meeting to attend (must be nice to have a whole slew of little dolls to represent you when you can't make it somewhere), Freya, regional expert on toddler nudity in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Derek Zoolander, male model, and Joy Assmunch, former nudist.

Me: Welcome, everyone, thank you so much for coming.
The Queen nods slightly. I bow, she seems satisfied.
Me: Freya, could you leave your pants on please? No, really. I mean it.

Freya: But I'm hot!

Me: Not now, okay? Can you please wait until we get home? You're sitting next to a male model for Pete's sake.
Freya throws her head down face first on the table and makes the noise I imagine a cat makes if you stab it in the back with a knife.
: Okay, well, you all know why you're here today. My daughter, ahem, likes to be naked more than anything in the world, which is fine, but not all the time. Like when we have people coming over to dinner and she's streaking through the dining room in her birthday suit, or when we have to go somewhere...

Barbie: Perhaps the child does not have enough clothes? I have many beautiful things, but I don't like to share.

Freya: (to Barbie) Can I cut your hair?

Joy: The Master keeps her mind always at one with the Tao.

Me: Um, yes, thank you Joy, but there are other times too, like for example when it's only the middle of September and therefore not even close to time to turn the heat on yet, but the house is maintaining a constant temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

Queen Elizabeth: As a mother you must exert your will over your subjects. They are not yet old enough to know what is best for them. Make them wear clothes. May I suggest a sweater?

Derek: The fashion world is a place where girls can learn to dress nice and feel good about themselves, even if they're not really, really good looking. Like me.

Me: You all seem to be implying that I don't know how to dress my children-

Joy: When there is no desire, all things are at peace.

Me: -but I think you're missing the point. Some more than others. It's not that they don't have clothes, it's just that they don't want to wear them.

Derek: Why would they want that? To young models wearing clothes is a natural thing, a thing of gorgeosity.

Barbie: I have to agree, I mean, me and my girlfriends just love to change our outfits dozens of times a day. It's like, totally important to us, such as fashion and like, boys.

Queen Elizabeth: You are from the New World, are you not?

Barbie: No. The USA, GO USA! WOO!

Freya: I want to wear my froggie boots.

Me: Well can you please put your pants back on, at least until we're done here?

Freya: No. I just want to wear my boots, not my pants.

Derek: Froggie boots are so last season.

Barbie: No way, Ruth says they go with anything.

Freya: They do. They go especially well with nothing, actually.

Me: But here's what I need to know-

Joy: The best leader follows the will of the people.

Me: Please. Joy. Enough with the Tao, okay? I need some real advice here.

Queen Elizabeth: Lao-tzu is not the answer young woman. And speaking of which, where are your clothes?

Joy: We're on the beach. You're the one who's not exactly dressed appropriately.

Queen Elizabeth: And what should I be wearing according to you? Froggie boots?

Derek: Tunics. They're so hot right now.

Joy: Besides, I'm an underwear model. I'm surprised you didn't know that.

Me: So let's focus on when it's more of a health issue, like when it's just too cold for the kid to be naked. How do we, as parents, keep them clothed?

Barbie: You're like totally the only parent here.

Me: Yeah, but you're the experts, that's why you're here.

Barbie: Oh, right. You could always make them some clothes out of tissues. That's what I'd do.

Joy: But what would Lao-tzu do?

Me: Okay, that just sounds ridiculous. The Tao is not going to help us with this issue, Joy.

Derek: I think the girl model has a point.

Me: And what would that be?

Derek: The will of the people. To lead, you must follow. Someone said that to me once.

Joy: Yeah, that was me, remember? A few seconds ago.

Me: Are you saying I should be naked more often? I'm confused. Come on guys, give me something I can use here.

Joy: Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Derek: Great idea! A man-fest would totally cheer us all up right now. Get some chips 'n' dip? We'll all feel, like, three times better than this.

Barbie: If I was a mom I'd totally let my children wear clothes.

Me: Hello! People! My children have clothes. They just choose not to wear them sometimes.

Derek: Well then that's their choice isn't it? I didn't have a choice. When you're this good-looking... What else could I do?

Queen Elizabeth: Children don't deserve choices.

Me: I couldn't agree with you more, but that's not really how Steve and I want to... I mean, we want to teach our children how to make good choices. Like not catching their death of cold by running around naked when they should be bundled up. Not that they don't do that sometimes too.

Joy: When there is no desire, all things are at peace.

Me: Dude. Don't you have somewhere to be?

Joy: I thought you embraced the Tao.

Me: I do, it's just - you're not helping right now. It's not about desire. I have no desire to stifle my children's creativity, or nudity or whatever, I just want them to cover up when we have company or when it's freaking cold. That's all I want! I swear!

Barbie: I have a convertible.

Freya: I have underpants on my head.

Queen Elizabeth: I have a country. Are you quite finished? Children should obey their parents because they want to obey their parents. If you have not achieved this desire in your children by now, my dear, well, I'm not sure there's much I do for you at all.

Me: Seriously?

Derek: I wanted to please my father, but he was ashamed of my male modeling.
Derek begins to cry. Freya offers him her e.
Joy: Let it go, woman. The kid wants to be naked, she wants to be free! Let the child be naked! Let ALL the children be naked!

Derek: I have to go. But I'd totally love to continue talking about this conversation at a later time if that suits your convenience.

Me: Right. That's okay. I know I don't have all the answers, but I was really hoping that the experts might have a clue on this one. Sure, I can force my kids to wear clothes, but there's just so much screaming and kicking that it ends up being more trouble than it's worth.

Freya: My mommy likes to drink wine.

Me: Um, thanks for sharing Freya.

Barbie: I'm ready to go now.
Freya picks Barbie up and accidentally pops off her head.
: Mommy!

Me: Don't worry Freya, it happens, I can just-
I screw her head back on, but it doesn't go on properly and her neck ends up the size of one of her thighs.
Me: Sorry.

Barbie: (sounding sort of like a bulldog) It's okay. Ruth warned me this might happen someday. I can totally still wear hot pants though.

Queen Elizabeth stands and knocks the table over with her skirt. A wave knocks her over and she lies on the beach like a turtle, unable to turn herself over. Her little arms wave in the air like tentacles.

Zoolander has wandered off into a grove of palm trees looking for a taxi and Freya sits playing with Wrestling Neck Barbie in a sand pit she made real quick.

Joy and I stand alone on the beach, the wind rustles the palm fronds as Joy slips an arm around my shoulders. She smells musky, but I don't pull away.
Joy: If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart, you will endure forever.
I want to ask her what death has to do with anything, but I don't. I've had enough for one day.
- - - - -
End transcript.

The "experts" make an appearance at meanwhile every two weeks.
If you have suggestions for a panel topic or panel member, email me at nell.meanwhile[at]gmail[dot]com.

To read the transcripts of past panel discussions, click here.

Next time on Ask the Experts: Sleep: Why Won't They Do It?
We will be joined by child sleep expert (and parent!) Jennifer aka Binky Bitch
of Playgroups Are No Place For Children.


Bananas said...

you are brilliant. totally laughing my head off. CJ keeps going, "WHAT, mom?!" My favorite part is when Barbie's head pops off.... ya gotta hate it when that happens!

Also I'd like to learn from the panel more about Spongebob Squarepants. Basically I just don't get it. At all.

My name is Rima. said...

This was hilarious! I think you really nailed your panel members' personalities.

Jenn said...

OMG! Brilliant.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Another hilarious installment!

I think Derek was my favorite character, although Queen Elizabeth and her turtle body scored some points at the end!

Cathy said...

"I have underpants on my head."

That soooooo sums it up!

I love these posts.

Stepherz said...

Dude! You are brilliant and funny!

What does it say about me that Barbie was my favorite character (besides Freya, of course)? But I also got some satisfaction when Freya popped her head off. Barbie-- love/hate.

Bella loves nakedness too. Do you think that this stage is where we instill (accidentally) in them self consciousness about their bodies? I've wondered that everytime I fuss at Bella for trying to go outside in her birthday suit. She looks up at me all sad, "Why, Mommy?"

Cute, funny, adorable, witty, brilliant post, Nell! Keep 'em coming!

Maureen said...

Wow... LOVE these posts.

How the heck do you come UP with these? Voices in your head??? That could be scary if it wasn't so dang funny.

Well done.

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

59 degrees in your house? Gawd, i haven't seen anything below 75 in my house in 6 months and it's only that low because I'm forking out 175.00/mo in a power bill for the A/C.

I think Freya had the smarts this time. underwear on my head. Go girl!

Jen said...

Hilarious, as always.

I would just like to point out that the nakedness doesn't always end at toddlerhood. My seven year old still demands to be allowed to strip down to his Cars boxer shorts the second we get home from school. I have to admit that I was hopeful that your panel might have some answers this time. :)

Suburban Oblivion said...

That is the funniest thing EVAH!!!!! LOVE it!!!

andi said...

Another hilarious panel post! And the return of Joy Assmunch - sweet! Freya and Elliot would so be friends. Pants are increasingly becoming optional in our house (hers, not mine). I look forward to the Playgroupie's take on sleep for the next panel.

beta mom said...

Can't catch a breath, I'm laughing so hard.
Of course, in this age of do it yourself....nakedness isn't anything a little duct tape can't fix.

I love your writing - so glad I found you!

Amy said...

Hilarious! I love the panels. You are sooo clever!!