The body is the gateway to intimacy. We are grown inside a person — our mother — and the whole rest of our lives we try to figure the ways to reattach, or find a substitute.
The recent “Time” magazine cover featuring a toddler attached to a sexy mom’s breast was grossly titillating (pun intended) and a clear attempt to sell more copies of a dying magazine. But at the same time it offers a great starting point for a conversation that is desperately needed in this country: how long can a mother allow a child to stay physically close if not completely attached.
My answer? Forever.
I have written about how my boys love my boobs, and how open I am in talking to them about their desire to look at and touch them. To many people, talking about such things is disgusting.
But I say you cannot deny nature, so why try? It is far too common that our fears over physical contact, especially with a same-sex child, can loom large as children hit puberty. Avoiding such affection — and conversation about the need for it — has dire consequences to closeness. We joke openly about it in my house, as I remind my boys that access to my mammaries was denied them the minute they began to bite.
I draw the line clearly whenever we cuddle, telling them that the more sexual of their instincts, those that have begun to well up in them with force, will be great to extend with a partner of their choosing down the road, and not with Dear Old Mom.
I do not shame them for expressing those feelings and instincts even if that Angry Pilgrim in my head suggests otherwise.
Damn that Pilgrim.
We are open in our house about all things physical. None of us are shy. But I think our family is the exception to the rule. I fear that America lost the ability to address primal passions somewhere along the transatlantic journey to the new land, possibly because our forefathers needed to prove they could be productive and prosper.
There is a price to pay for passion sometimes, and so we try very hard to keep it in check. We’ve tried so hard, in fact, that it often is missing in our own homes.
Sadly, we have made so many physical intimacies taboo in our country, and technology seems to be driving the trend even further, with texts long ago surpassing talk as the best way to communicate. It alarmed and saddened me to read in this very paper about a new school, a supposedly brave new charter in our midst, that went so far as to make “no hugging in the hallways” a rule — supposedly to keep kids moving quickly from class to class.
Sure, there is always good justification for coldness. It keeps you on schedule not to stop for a little affection. It keeps kids from getting too hot and bothered so that they can concentrate on their studies.
Well, we can make all kinds of rules that, in theory, will create very productive society, but we cannot stop human nature. And why do we want to try? To get more done?
Closeness is too great a cost for success. The end of intimacy is a certain failure.
Taboos be damned! I will not stop hugging my children and encouraging them to hug others, no matter what society — or that Pilgrim in my head — might say. I will not stop crawling into bed with my children and cuddling with them, kissing them straight on their little lips.
I understand a mother’s desire to nurture her offspring for as long as possible.
It’s a hard bunch of years between a mother and a boy’s first girlfriend, and I offer them great sympathy. Soon, maybe, they’ll discover Playboy. It’s only natural.Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.