A few weeks ago I was with some of my knitting friends, as well as some previously unknown by me friends-of-friends when the topic of conversation turned from Mad Men to child self-exploration. An overly excitable, lacking a filter woman, whom I shall call "Clod-ia" suddenly piped up that she didn't know what to do because she'd seen her three year old daughter touching herself "down there." "I mean," she exclaimed, "what should I do?! Is that normal? I mean, I don't know!"
I don't have children, but I have spent time around them, and I'm not a moron. I've seen young children literally playing with themselves, and friends tell me that their young sons have realized it fun to play with their own peens sometimes before they're even toddlers, so I was kind of shocked that this was just now hitting Clod-ia's radar. Clearly she hadn't read any of the "What to Expect When . . ." books on pregnancy and child rearing.
"Well," I started, "you don't want your daughter to be ashamed of her body and have a lot of hang-ups, so you should be careful not to make her feel badly, but she needs to understand that there are some things that are done in public, and other things that are done in private." It's not that the act is bad, but diddling oneself in the middle of Macy's is inappropriate, for children as well as adults, am I right?
One of the mothers in the group (and there were several), chimed in and said that Clod-ia might want to suggest places where her daughter could feel free to engage in such activities, starting with places an adult might engage in such behavior, "like her bedroom or the bathroom," she said. "Really? I mean, people masturbate in the bathroom?" Apparently she'd never seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Having determined Clod-ia needed more help than I was willing to give, I shut my mouth and let the conversation peter out, but the matter has stayed with me for some time now, so let me just say this
Tips for you: Unless you want to raise a little Jeffrey Dahmer, Eileen Wournos or John Wayne Gacey, don't make your children feel badly about their sexuality. Those parts? They're special and deserving of attention, but in the right place and at the right time