Kimmy Sophia Brown

Gracie the Viking

Mar 4, 1996
My daughter doesn't like to wear clothes. This isn't a major problem yet, because she's only six.

From the time she was able to walk, she has tugged and pulled to get her clothes off. Most of her toddle-hood she careened around the house in a diaper. Once she learned to talk she would come up to me, pleading, "I hot, I hot!", while trying to pull off the sweatsuit or other offending garment. If she were from an Indian Tribe they'd probably call her Woman With Feet Like Ice.

My husband has some Scandinavian ancestry, and mine is Irish. Sometimes I try to imagine our ancestors. I get a mental image of barefoot warriors wearing skins, running around the seacoast with spears. Not exactly the pinnacle of civilization. Possibly Gracie inherited her internal thermostat from them. It's amazing that anybody survived back then. No throat lozenges, no Puff's Plus Kleenex with lotion, no Contac. Imagine the adaptability of the ancients! Barefoot in the fog, no 7-11 to grab a cup of hot chocolate between battles. Gracie inherited the same constitution that kept them warm and fended off many diseases of the day.

The rub concerning Gracie's personal preference is that there is not a lot of room for naked people in polite society. And I don't want her anywhere near impolite society. I'm hoping to steer her toward the joys of wearing clothes -- namely, the exhilaration most red-blooded women feel trying on and throwing off dozens of outfits. Maybe Miss Manners has written something on this topic.

A few years ago, we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, near Kitty Hawk of the Wright Brothers' fame. Gracie was two at the time. It was October, but it was quite warm. I just let her do her thing on the beach. Off came her clothes and she sprang toward the waves like a water sprite. I have a half dozen pictures of her from that day, skipping merrily along the beach, (to the probable consternation of onlookers.)

A lot of mothers would probably want to slap that tendency right out of her and then slap it out of me too. "You should make her dress warmly! She'll get sick!"

When she was really small, I didn't have the heart to enforce a dress code. Now that she's older, I try to keep her dressed for her own health and safety. I have confidence that in 7 or 8 years, her own conscience will prod her toward the realization that it really is better to wear clothes.

We encourage her to dress everyday. Usually her outfits end up hanging from doorknobs or laying on the floor of her room. She sails past me in her underwear and squeals, "Mommy, I'm changing!"

There is a plus side to all this. She may be an easy wife. She won't need endless shopping sprees. She won't stand in front of her mirror complaining, "There's nothing to wear," as she looks at acres of clothing hanging in her closet. In fact, we've had the opposite problem with her. "Gracie, there's got to be something to wear."

Maybe she was destined to be a swimmer or a track star, meant to make her living dressed in brevity.

I like to think that she's just feeling the impulse of the child Eve before the fall, handed down through the ages.

Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.