I wonder how is it that some parents don't think much about letting their children be fully undressed in public. Perhaps they think that being children, it's perfectly acceptable for them to run around naked (or close to it), in full view of other children and adults. If so, can we even determine the right age as to when they should start covering up?
BabyMoo loves water parks. He is thrilled when he gets to play with water, and we're more than happy to indulge him whenever there is an opportunity to. I'm really pleased that in most places that we've been to, shower and changing facilities are more than adequate. I'm usually busy taking pictures or guarding our belongings while Daddy plays with him in the main water area, and this usually gives me time to observe the surroundings and the children at play.
The first time we went to one, we were appalled to see a little girl, totally naked, being coaxed into the play area by her parents. She must be about 2 years old, and she was clearly uncomfortable. She was being dragged by one hand, and her other hand was placed over her privates. She was screaming her protestations in Chinese, and had tears streaming down her face. From what we gathered, her parents were telling her (in too loud voices) that since she's always happy to go swimming, this was almost the same. Her older brother, who is perhaps a couple of years older than her, was already running about at the water playground buck naked, and oblivious to the stares of the other children and apparent discomfort of other parents.
Did it not strike them that perhaps she was embarrassed to not have anything on, rather than she was afraid of the water? Even if she wasn't too keen to get wet, why force her against her will? If they were trying to dispel her fears (assuming the reason is the latter) perhaps carrying her up and joining her in play will be more effective than dragging her, screaming, and basically creating a scene.
I felt so upset for that little girl. I won't judge on the parenting style of her parents, but I think regardless of the different ways we approach bringing up our children, ultimately we should always try to see things from their viewpoint. We can throw them to the deep end of the pool in an effort to teach them to swim, but before we do so, we have to make an effort to understand our children. A certain method may work on one child, but the very same may have an adverse effect on another.
Perhaps I should not get too bothered by this, since I don't even know the girl! Who am I to say anything about what happened? But I can't help but feel that children also have feelings, and should always be heard. In fact, their senses are way more astute as compared to many adults. When they are 'ignored' most of the time and have to get used to keeping their feelings in check, perhaps it may affect their own personal sense of well-being and oppressing their thoughts become almost second nature to them. Of course, I'm not advocating that we should let them get their way all the time... it is more about listening to their fears, thoughts and feelings and addressing them; dispensing advice as and when there's a need to.
She said No. Repeatedly. I think they should have respected that.
What I really wished most, however, was for them to realise that even if they didn't care much about respecting their daughter's privacy, they should at least respect others around them, especially since there weren't any other kids who were stark naked in the area.
I was chatting with a friend (who had just given birth to her 2nd child, a daughter, a week ago) while I was midway through this post... and she mentioned that thus far, 'cleaning' a baby boy is so much easier! There are the crevices, nooks and crannies that needs to be cleaned thoroughly, and since everything is so small... she has to 'peer and peer' to make sure that everything is wiped down. To quote her: "I feel like I'm invading her privacy, silly as it seems".
Why then, did those parents undress their toddler girl without any thought for her feelings? I'm sure that little girl will have a semblance of knowledge that being naked in public is not what people usually do. Perhaps it's a different society that they are used to (they are foreigners), but shouldn't it be that no matter where we come from and where we're at, basic human nature and civic mindedness should be almost similar?
Then we started visiting more water parks as BabyMoo became more mobile.
I saw more and more naked children, some perhaps old enough to take a bus on their own.
It came to a point where I had to get used to the scene, and wonder if I'm a prude.