BY MONTY DIMOND
A little while ago I did something that came up in conversation with friends over dinner. It sparked a mixture of passionate opinions, raised eyebrows, thumbs up of support, and endless inappropriate jokes. It’s fair to say my friendship group is divided on whether what I did was acceptable or completely wrong town. So here’s how the story rolls.
I was babysitting one of my best friends’ little two-year-old girl, Molly*. She was sleeping at my place for the night, so after our 63rd episode of Dora The Explorer, I decided to run her a bubble bath. She happily splashed away in the tub while I gave her a scrub and shampooed her little locks. After she was squeaky clean I jumped in the bath too and had a shower.
When my boyfriend got home later that night I told him the events of my day. The debrief included that my little mate and I had showered together. He turned to me and said, “Isn’t that a bit…um…weird?” I hadn’t given it a second thought, but his scrunched up face me panic that I’d done something wrong.
I have known Molly for her entire 24-month existence. I held her when she was 5 hours old, have changed her nappy a hundred times, and kissed her knees when she’s fallen over. I absolutely love her to bits. Why would it be weird for me to shower with her?
The second my friend arrived to collect her daughter I blurted out, “So I showered with Molly…hope that was ok!” Naturally my friend didn’t bat an eyelid. With a smug look on my face I turned to my boyfriend and dropped the old “I told you so”.
Fast forward to last night’s dinner party. This one small attempt to save water and time, created so many fictional scenarios and questions. If Molly were five would it still be acceptable? Should I have checked with her parents first? If Molly was a little boy would that change things?
It was amazing how most women around the table found showering with a friend’s child completely normal, and even quite a lovely thing to do. The men on the other hand, deemed it a total no go zone. They all said they would never bathe with a kid who wasn’t their own offspring.
To be completely honest, it does feel different for some reason. I wouldn’t mind a teeny bit if one of my close girlfriends showered with my baby son, but if one of my male friends did, maybe I would? Even knowing that it would be nothing but a simple and extremely innocent shower. It’s sad really, but just because they are men, it makes the situation a little uneasy.
I started to ponder why this is. Have horrific news stories of paedophilia wrongly damaged our opinion of all men? Do we still see the bathing of children as mainly women’s work and thus not really the place of a man? Or is it simply because men have ‘outie bits’?!
Wherever this prejudice comes from, it just doesn’t seem fair. Why should the role of men be limited in our children’s lives? It also reminds me how grateful I am to be a woman. Without fear of judgement, I can experience all the joys of raising children. Even ones who aren’t my own.
Most people agree with the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”. However it seems unless that village is full of women, our kids are going to get pretty grubby.
* Molly is not the child’s real name. I was going to go with the Jemima but that was too ‘Play School’, then I flirted with Winona but she is a shoplifter. So Molly won.
Katie “Monty” Dimond is a broadcaster and media personality. She has appeared on Channel Ten, Channel Nine, and Nova FM. She is currently busy being a full time Mum and loving it! You can (and should) follow her on Twitter here