Thursday, September 13, 2012

Clothing Optional

Each and every time my sons spend time at Granny's house, they end up naked.  I pull into the driveway and find them gardening in the buff or "helping" in the garage.  They swim naked (unless it's more fun to swim with all their clothes on) and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse naked while wrapped in a big down blanket.  This used to drive me nuts.

It wasn't just the nakedness.  It was the fact that they also drank Gatorade instead of water, sucked on lollipops instead of Buddy Fruit and watched more TV in one day than I let them watch in a week.  As a new mom, I was chock full of information about proper nutrition and the evils of television.  I helpfully shared tidbits with my mom.  "Did you know that children's brain development is actually stunted if they watch TV before the age of 2?" or "I just read that kids need to eat every color of the rainbow every day.  I don't think lollipops count..."  She would give me this sweet (read "go to hell") smile and go about her day.

Fast forward three and a half years.  My oldest calls Granny every day to tell her stories about things that happened to him or ideas that he has.  If he doesn't see her for three days, he has to set-up a time to come over or see her on FaceTime.  They have private jokes and they do things together that he would never do with me.  Is all this because clothing is optional at her house?  I doubt it.  I think it all comes from having a place where you let down your guard, act a little (or a lot) silly and break the rules for a change.  It's a place where you are safe to be yourself and to know that you are loved no matter what.

So I pick them up naked with their lollipop stained faces and feel a surge of gratitude rather than judgement.  I hug her, tell her thank you and I mean it.  What a gift to give my babies time with their Granny.

How has your extended family enriched your children's lives?

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