I’ve mentioned the great fun of co-showering with my wife, and how it serves as something much richer than a sexual experience (though it’s challenging to work in when we travel for the holidays). In fact, we are not sexual fare more frequently than we _are _sexual in the shower, instead using the opportunity to engage relationally though conversation and proximity. The vulnerability of nakedness and the physical intimacy of skin-on-skin contact reinforce our relationship, even when it’s completely nonsexual in nature.
I highly recommend it.
I also mentioned that co-showering with one’s spouse becomes trickier once you introduce kids into the scene. Depending on their age, you might not be able to leave them unsupervised long enough to share this kind of intimacy with your spouse. However, that doesn’t mean my wife and I typically shower alone. One or both of us frequently have a visitor in there with us: our kids.
Much like the relationship with my wife, this parent-child relationship (or these relationship[s], when more than one crowds in) enjoys benefits from the conversation, closeness, and contact that come with nonsexual co-showering.
It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Like many of my showers with my wife, these showers are not sexual in any way, even with all the inevitable physical contact. That comparison is slightly inaccurate statement, since my wife and I do enjoy looking each other sexually, but that’s semantics. Obviously, we’re not drawing sexual gratification from our children.
I hate that we live in a world where such a disclaimer has to even be said, but that’s the reality of the situation.
As you’ve probably seen in our posts over the last couple weeks, we parent strategically with things like co-showering with our kids since it can play a significant role in shaping our children’s future sexual identities, body image, and self-respect.
We are careful to keep a casual demeanor about our bodies and theirs, which serves as an excellent catalyst for the occasional healthy, age-appropriate conversations about gender differences and physical development (as they comment on dad’s body hair or mom’s enlarged breasts).
Yet at the same time, we’re careful to demonstrate respect for boundaries. These are practically nonexistent as they’re really young, since we’re going to have to wash them if they’re going to get washed at all. As they age, however, we honor any boundaries they set and eventually set our own.
As they age, we don’t often touch them in key places, nor they us, though we also don’t make a big deal out of such contact when it happens. The goal is instruction in respect, not establishment of distance. Some skin-on-skin contact is healthy and even informative, and so we treat it accordingly.
That said, assuming they’re old enough to bathe themselves, we never pressure them to co-shower, permitting them whatever level of privacy they desire. They just know that they’re welcome to jump in to have the bonding and intimacy that comes from that vulnerability and openness.
A Little Competition
It’s not all head games, though. I like to have a little fun, too.
When I’m about to shower (or bathe, which is far less frequent) with one or more of the kids, we have ourselves a little friendly competition. I call it the Bare Bottom Dash.
It’s basically a race. A naked race.
We do a countdown: “Bare Bottom Dash in three… two… one… Go!” Then, wherever we are, we strip down to nothing as fast as humanly possible, leaving our clothes in a pile at our feet. Now, I happen to have a lot more experience at this stage thanks to some hasty encounters with my wife, so I have to pace myself here like parents often do when “competing” with their kids. It’s got to at least seem winnable for them.
Then, it’s a footrace, with the winner being whichever person lifts up the shower plunger, starting the shower. Note that this means someone will have to have already turned on the water, or the plunger won’t stay up.
With boys, this often results in a bit of jostling or even wrestling by the bathtub, not to mention the tripping and shoving that probably accompanied the preceding dash. This requires a bit of parental caution given the abundance of unyielding surfaces in the bathroom. And yes, sometimes there are injuries. This paragraph started out “with boys”, so mentioning injuries is slightly redundant.
Winners and Losers
Whoever gets there last has to run back to the piles of clothes we left behind and toss them in their respective laundry hampers, then run and find Mom (if she’s home) and give her a kiss for an apology for leaving our dirty clothes about for those few seconds (clutter in the house can bother her, and this reminds the kids of that). Then, the loser must run to the kids bathroom(s) and grab a towel for each kid in the shower, and take it to the master bathroom.
While that’s all going on, the winner gets to set the water temperature just where they want it and climb in. If one of the kids wins, I do reserve the right to adjust it a bit once I get in; it is my shower after all.
Overall, I think this teaches a bit of courtesy (putting other people’s things away in a brother’s keeper manner, apologizing to mom in consideration of her preferences, etc.) alongside giving us a little competitive fun. Plus, anything can be a game for kids.
I’m just curious to see if the siblings ever initiate a Bare Bottom Dash on their own. Monkey see, monkey do, and all that. So long as monkey also picks up dirty laundry and gives mom a kiss, I’ve got no complaints.