|Girl in shower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
What child doesn't become somewhat preoccupied with the topic of sex? For that matter does that preoccupation ever go far from our minds in adulthood? We look at the sexual content of much popular entertainment as well as the sexual fixation of the advertising industry. Sex is and has always been on the human mind from the earliest years until the day we die.
Sexual curiosity came to my childhood as far back as my earliest memory. I suppose much of it is built into our genetic make-up and is fueled by what we see and hear all around us. I remember puzzling allusions by adults to mysteries I could not comprehend, but I knew it all had to do with physical relationships and attributes of the human body. Bit by bit I began to grasp some of the esoteric jokes and conversations that I would overhear from the adults and that even some of my peers would occasionally bring up.
Always hoping for a glimpse of the hidden parts of especially the opposite sex I kept my eyes open just in case something might be revealed to me. I would be titillated by the spinning ice skater, not realizing that I was not seeing the woman's undergarments but only a part of her costume. When my mother would take me into the ladies room rather than send me alone into the men's bathroom, I would hope that just maybe I would see into one of the occupied stalls. One of the heights of my kindergarten year was when Ruth Springer was removing her snow suit (anyone remember snow suits?) in the cloak room and she accidently pulled down her painties exposing her little bare bottom. I'd never thought too much about Ruth before that day and from then on had a newfound respect for her.
I went through the "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" phase through which many little kids pass. A friend and I might hide in the living room curtains stripping down to our underwear until my mother wanted to know what we were doing and we'd hurriedly pull up our pants, emerging to announce innocently, "Nothing". The curtains gave a false sense of security to us mischievous children, but my mother was not fooled by any of it.
One of the milestones of my sexual awakening in childhood came when I was about five. My mother used to bathe me and my sister, who was a year younger than I, together from the time we were babies. I never gave this any of that much thought because she was my sister and I had no prurient interests in her--she was like my buddy and co-conspirator. Taking a bath together was just a part of sibling life. Then came a turning point in this activity.
We were visiting my grandparents in West Virginia and my eight year old female cousin was also visiting at the same time. My cousin held a certain intrigue for me, she being an "older women" so to speak and a girl who I found kind of cute. We rarely saw each other since we lived some distance apart, but when she was around I wanted to be in her company as much as I could.
When the time for baths came my cousin and sister headed toward the bathroom and I was right behind them only to be stopped at the door by my grandmother. Peering around the door into the long bathroom where water was running into the big claw-footed bathtub, I could see my cousin and sister giggling and preparing to take off their clothes. My grandmother stepped between me and the view and shut the door behind her. It was made clear to me on that day that boys and girls did not take baths together. No communal baths ever took place for me after that day. I'm sure my mother and her mother had a discussion about it. On that day one of the great mysteries and desires of my childhood would remain a mystery.
Did you ever play "doctor" or other games related to sexual curiosity? Did you take baths with siblings? Do you think sexual curiosity is learned, innate, or a bit of both?