I Want Other Adults to Undress My Daughter

I know, controversial title. But it’s true. Hear me out.


Higher than my puny biceps can manage.

We went on an outing yesterday with Mikey Mike and Emmeline. Now we’ve been hanging out with these guys for — what, over a year? — and so Boo is completely at ease with them. Mike feeds Boo, tosses her in the air on demand, and plays goofy puppet games with her. And to the extent of my physique (which compares poorly with Mike’s, sad to say) I try to do the same with Emmeline.

Then we came to the point in the day (this happens every day) when Boo wanted to switch completely from her morning outfit into the backup from my bag. (Truth be told, she’d rather have remained naked, but there was a lot of broken glass about so I only let her go barefoot for twenty minutes or so. Yay, tetanus vaccine!)

As we were changing, I thought to myself: Gee, I really should have Mike do this.

So… why? I mean, apart from wanting to get out of the chore myself?

Here’s the deal: we’re fast approaching the day when Boo will be entrusted into others’ care for long periods of time. One day, no doubt, she’s going to pee those morning pants and no parent or grandparent is going to be nearby: the preschool caregivers or the trusted neighbors will pitch in. Mike himself is one of our backups should we go into labor early.

And Boo, tragically, is going to need to know what’s right and what’s wrong in those situations.

So if we get Boo comfortable undressing (or pooping or bathing or doing anything else “private”) with the help of other trusted adults, people we know well, and in our presence, then the ultimate conversation about — may the saints preserve me — boundaries won’t completely scare Boo into poop retention and dress-up phobia. I know that there are a lot of things to fear out there in the big world — but one of the worst bugbears, I’ve always felt, is anxiety itself. Fear hurts.

And so we’re habituating Boo to other adults in all settings. Although, glancing again at that picture and thinking back on some of Boo’s exploits, it would appear that an excess of fear isn’t one of her problems.