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The Not-So-Private Body

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Dr. Sophia Grant: Even before I became a child abuse pediatrician, I was keenly aware of the victimization of children. As a result, I tried to educate my own about potential predators and unsafe situations.

Girl Wrapped in White Towel

I started the conversation early, around age 3, when I felt they understood the meaning of "private." "Give me some privacy" was met with my eldest making sure to close the bathroom door as she watched me use the toilet. I still make my 11-year-old use the women's restroom, much to his chagrin. Two years ago, he asked me when I would allow him to use a public restroom, unaccompanied. I told him "Fifteen" -- and that's not even an exaggeration.


Sleepovers? That's another story. It took me forever to finally acquiesce. And that is only when I know the family and they know I'm a child abuse doctor who works with crazy cops and throw-the-book-at-'em district attorneys. When I drop off my children, instead of saying, "Have fun!" or "Remember to brush your teeth," I say, "Nobody touches your penis!" and "Nobody sees anybody naked!"

So my children know boundaries, or so I thought.

It was November. The weather had become crisp. My 4-year-old, Yaya, was dressed in thick tights, undershirt, long-sleeved blouse, and skirt. She went next door to play. Forty-five minutes went by. Then a frantic yell from upstairs: "Mommy, Yaya's on the trampoline naked with Cason!!" My heart raced as I shot upstairs. I tried to suppress images of them rolling around or touching each other -- NAKED. When I got upstairs and made it to the bedroom that gives me a perfect view of the neighbor's yard, I saw my baby jumping high, arms flailing, laughing, and buck naked. Her summer tan lines were still visible. Cason, also 4, and his baby sister were also in the buff.

Compared to what I had imagined, I was relieved. I sent my eldest next door to fetch her sister, all while eyeing them from upstairs. I marveled at their innocence and wondered what it felt like to be so free.

When Yaya returned, she was without an undershirt, her panties were inside-out, and no tights were in sight. We had the "My Body Is Private" talk. Again. Outwardly, I was firm, but inside I was tickled and glad that she had not become jaded, despite my best efforts.


next: Sonogram Cufflinks: Really?
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