Essential Baby blogger Joseph Kelly

Essential Baby blogger Joseph Kelly

Joseph Kelly wonders where it is okay for kids to get their kit off?

At the beach the other day a bunch of under-10s seemed horrified by the fact that my daughter Frances was running around naked. Scanning the length of the beach I was startled to realise that most kids were covered head to toe.

From the age of two she’s been able to get out of any outfit, no matter the form or quantity of restraints, in about three seconds flat. 

While this is admirable in the fight against skin cancer, it made Frances' outfit of a hat and a layer of sunscreen scream out "Hey! I'm naked!"

I guess I'm kind of accustomed to public nudity. I grew up in a town where the seasons were separated by the fact that the nights in winter were marginally less oppressively hot than the nights in summer.

Not surprisingly, many residents chose to head to the river at night to cool off. Even less surprisingly, some people couldn't resist the combination of the cover of darkness and the cool of the river to indulge in the liberating practice of skinny-dipping.

And while we're on the topic of the not so surprising, there were some people in my town who not only refused to 'strip and dip' but who also occupied the moral high ground and railed against any form of public nudity.

What I do find surprising is the fact that the most outspoken critic of public nudity was none other than my dad. He wrote reams of articles in the local press on the topic, decrying the erosion of public morals that accompanies the shedding of clothes. He fought a fierce but futile campaign to have police stamp out late night skinny-dipping. He even lobbied the council to install high-voltage lighting along the banks of the river in an attempt to flush out the streakers.

It is fair to say that my dad was not a fan of nudity. Which makes me wonder what he would have thought of his granddaughter.

In many ways my dad and Frances have a lot in common. They are both highly inquisitive, resolutely stubborn and mad as hatters. But Frances obviously had her moral compass set by 'Susie's side', because outside of a Wiggles DVD marathon nothing gives her greater joy than nuding up.

From the age of two she's been able to get out of any outfit, no matter the form or quantity of restraints, in about three seconds flat. And it makes no difference if she's at home or in public, inside or outside, in company or in solitude.

Last week we steered our pram into the butcher for our weekly shop. In the time it took me to debate with the butcher over whether I'd have the rump or the porterhouse, Frances had decided to flash some rump of her own. Along the length of the counter was a trail of discarded nappy, top, skirt and shoes � all leading straight to Frances.

On the cold butcher's tiles she stood naked, performing a Peruvian fertility dance in front of a tray of startled chicken fillets. "She's as nude as a lamb chop," the butcher cheerfully observed.

Which makes me wonder where it is OK for kids to get their kit off. So far my highly scientific empirical research suggests that butcher shops are nudity friendly while beaches are not. So where do we draw the 'no clothes' line?

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