Today’s news:

Man, her boys love her breasts!

for The Brooklyn Paper

My boys so desire to squeeze my boobs.

My 9-year-old comes toward me with hands stretched out like lobster pincers. “Squeeze, squeeze,” he says hopefully as I dodge and dart.

I try hard to keep it light, to not get angry or shame him or his little copycat brother. I know this is natural human behavior, normal for a young boy (or a boy of any age, really) and I desperately want to make sure they don’t feel disgusting for their urges.

We chat openly, even as I fend them off, gently but firmly.

“These are not for you, not anymore,” I say.

One morning, as Eli and I cuddled on the couch, the subject turned, inevitably, to his acknowledged boob obsession. He has even said that he “wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else if women didn’t wear bras.”

I didn’t get it — and perhaps never have. What’s the big deal? Why are men so focused on boobs?

I asked him that again, he adjusted the glasses on his cute freckled face and said, “I think we just look at them and think: FOOD!”

I must have laughed for 10 minutes. Leave it to a 9-year-old to say directly what so many adults dance around and around and can’t figure, or don’t want to think about (though Freud figured it out, of course).

Boobs are sustenance, the only sustenance possible for human life until Nestle and other industrialized capitalistic enterprises started manufacturing alternatives.

I’m confused then, why we as mothers get so panicked and concerned over our sons’ interest in our boobs. It makes no sense that we are so grossed out by things that are totally innate.

Now, as I said, I let my little ones know it’s hands off, that “private” parts (mine and theirs) are private. I talk to them of the lovely time when I fed them with the self-same breasts they now desire to squeeze; it was a wonderful, beautiful, natural thing I don’t want them to feel at all embarrassed about. But that was then, this is now.

I raise the topic about boys’ natural curiosity about boobs with other mothers to confirm my own suspicions about the innocent lasciviousness of one’s progeny.

“My son says, ‘I really like your boobies because they’re fat and boneless…’” said one friend of mine.

I laughed. I loved that her son could be candid with her. It shouldn’t be taboo to talk openly between a parent and a child about body parts, particularly the private ones. If my boys like boobs, mine or anyone else’s, I want them to be able to tell me. I want to be able to talk about it. How else can I help them as they navigate the incredibly confusing journey toward puberty?

Doctors whom I have interviewed about talking to kids about sex all offered up concern that many parents today are afraid even to use anatomically correct words. If we cannot feel comfortable enough to call things what they are, to say “penis” or “vagina” calmly and without shame, it is unlikely we will be able to speak to a child about how they might feel about such parts and their inexplicable urges regarding them.

So I don’t freak out when accosted by my kids, when they stare as I change. But the other day, I did pick up “The Body Book for Boys” and left it around. The kids moaned half-heartedly that they didn’t care and didn’t want or need it. But I noticed that they did pick it up, helping me in my fight toward telling them things they want desperately to know, but sometimes have to pretend they don’t. It is a strange human phenomenon, shame. It can sneak in and cloud kids’ healthy understanding of themselves and their burgeoning sexuality. I hope our openness can help us avoid that.

The most important thing is that my boys know I will not get angry at them when they say things to me, even if they are things that sound disgusting to my older, more-cynical psyche. I have to stop and remember where these cracks and questions are coming from, that I am not in a bar with a nasty pervert, but with small, naïve, naturally curious children. Like it or not, I am the person who, along with my hubby, will help determine how normal or abnormal they feel about their sexual self. Gulp.

The Big G and I make a lot of ribald jokes around the house — though he makes more of them because he doesn’t have the “Mommy Should” voice that I sometimes hear in my head. The kids share his jokes with me later, if I am not present, to get him in trouble. I often feign anger, but am not-so-secretly pleased. My kids’ sense of humor about “boobies” and “balls” and other unmentionables, their giggling references to TV jokes about “making out,” means they might feel free to openly discuss these things that Puritanical political correctness often forces kids (and their parents) to hide. We can pretend, but why?

It is not at all PC to say, but I’m glad when my boys talk openly about their obsessions with body parts, theirs and mine. It means I have a little window into what’s going on in their brains, a small insight into which synapses are firing when. I don’t think, as some do, that talking straight about sex or sexual parts leads to premature hanky-panky. On the contrary, I think it leads to a potentially greater understanding of The Act down the road, when they will be hard-pressed, like all of us are, to make sense of sometimes insensible urges and emotions.

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Reader Feedback

Ann from Williamsburg says:
If boobs = food, then do Daughters also have the same type of obsession? Do girls also say things like "I think we just look at them and think: FOOD!” And do mothers find it as cute if/when their girls obsess about boobs?
Jan. 4, 2011, 9:04 am
trace from park slope says:
boob obsession is better than penis obsession..My little step son has been exposing his little peter, making it the center of attention, since I met him when he was four..He is now thirteen, and I feel like his dad should just buy him a whore, to get over this need to makke his dick the center of the world..
Jan. 4, 2011, 11:38 am
anon from park slope says:


Too much about too little ! LoL
Jan. 4, 2011, 11:49 am
k. from Arkady says:
There.....

Once was a man named Oedipus Rex,
You may have heard about his odd complex,
His name appeared in Freuds index,
Coz he, loved his mother.

His rivals used to say quite a bit,
that, as a monarch, he was most unfit,
But still in all, they had to admit,
that he loved his mother.

He loved his mother like no other.
His daughter was his sister and his son was his brother,
He sure knew who a boy's best friend is.

When he found what he had done,
He tore his eyes out, one by one,
A tragic end to a loyal son,
who loved his mother.
Jan. 4, 2011, 1:15 pm
NotGoish from Prospect Heights says:
At least this columnist is an improvement over the one in this space, who is just a boob.
Jan. 4, 2011, 1:37 pm
Jen from Park Slope says:
Talking openly with one's children about body parts such as breasts (which, by the way, is the "anatomically correct word" for "boobs") and their feelings about them is indeed healthy, and should be encouraged. Coming after a woman "with hands stretched out like lobster pincers," saying "Squeeze, squeeze,” as the target has to "dodge and dart" those advances and "fend them off" is just totally inappropriate behavior, period -- for a nine-year-old child or for anyone else. Even if mommy doesn't get angry at such behavior, those kids had better believe that any other woman or girl they try that with will indeed get mad, and rightly so. Talking about impulses openly and acting on them indiscriminately are not the same thing, and these boys (and their mother) had better learn the difference, or they are in for a world of trouble. Finally, this mother has once again utterly violated her sons’ privacy – what a humiliating story for two young boys (whose real names their mother freely uses) to see published in The Brooklyn Paper!
Jan. 4, 2011, 2:48 pm
Ann from Williamsburg says:
I totally agree with Jen from Park Slope.
Jan. 4, 2011, 4:12 pm
Tori from Park Slope says:
People, obviously we all don't agree on things, especially when it comes to raising children BUT some of you just need to lighten up. If you do, you might just learn something from time to time. I like that this woman has the guts to say what's on her mind. I also enjoy reading what she writes about. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't. But I don't insult her or write horrible and mean comments. If you don't like what she has to say, don't read her column. Why some of you feel the need to verbally attack is beyond me.
Jan. 4, 2011, 10:15 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
Someday, the authors children are going to hate her for this humiliation that is going to follow them for the rest of their lives. How self absorbed can one be to ruin their kids lives just to satisfy their never ending need for attention. It's too bad your husband doesn't have the guts to stand up and do right by his offspring, obviously he is gutless coward to stand by and watch this train wreck.
Jan. 5, 2011, 8:29 am
OC from Brooklyn says:
"I know this is natural human behavior, normal for a young boy (or a boy of any age, really) and I desperately want to make sure they don’t feel disgusting for their urges."

It's natural for a nine year-old to be grabbing his mother's breasts? I've have never heard this before. I'm sure it's on the spectrum of the various behaviors children go through and I don't mean to invalidate the author's plight, but I wouldn't categorize it as natural behavior.

I also have to echo Jen's comment that airing this very private matter using your children's real names is potentially damaging to their well being. It shows astonishingly poor judgment. People gossip enough - you don't think writing about in a paper read by a few hundred thousands people isn't going to get around?

Regarding Tori's comment I don't see a lot of personal attacks. I see some concerns for her kids who clearly don't have a say on whether or not they are included in these columns.
Jan. 5, 2011, 8:32 pm
BD from Brooklyn says:
The urge may be natural (although i'm not convinced the urge to squeeze mom's boobs is "normal"), but the behavior it not. This is a very important distinction that is being missed here. We all have natural urges all the time, and children should not be shamed for their feelings, but they must be taught how to deal with them, that it is not ok to just act on any and all impulses that arise. Can you imagine these boys ten or twelve years from now at a frat party? Scary.
Jan. 6, 2011, 2:12 pm
KDL from Clinton Hill says:
I'm a male, life-long boob lover. But I cannot honestly say I ever found my mother's boobs to be the least bit interesting. Commenting on them and trying to cop a feel at nine years old? Granted, I don't have children, but that behavior hardly sounds "normal" to me. As for we male's fixation on boobies, I believe that it comes from either a conscious or sub-conscious recognition as the Breast as a source of nourishment, comfort and bonding with a primary female caregiver. At least that's how I've always viewed them.
Jan. 8, 2011, 7:45 pm
Kim from DC says:
I have to agree with several of the comments above - there are some serious boundary issues here. First, I'd like to point out that Freud has been *thoroughly* debunked by modern psych academia, so one ought not to site him as further proof of anything. And, I want to point out that it shows exceedingly poor judgment to allow one's opposite gender, elementary-school-aged kids to see one change clothes. Privacy is an important boundary to MODEL as children grow - what is appropriate for age 6 may not be for age 9. If you can't set boundaries for your kids behavior (as the squirming away from pincer-fingers here shows), you ought not to be allowing them to see you change. You can have good, appropriate personal boundaries and free communication - you don't have to sacrifice one for the other.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:46 pm
Kathy from Boston says:
What I appreciate, as a parent coach, is that by “acting out” on their impulses, it allows them to be visible rather than hidden, and provides an opportunity for the parents to strengthen their relationship with the boys by talking about it without shame. In my opinion, this will actually support healthier relationships when they are older.
Jan. 10, 2011, 3:34 pm
deviouspdv from Park Slope says:
Jen from Park Slope - I have a 10 year old who exhibits the same proclivities as Steph's sons. He is a completely
appropriate and polite young man reserving his oedipal
urges for mama. Not reinventing the wheel here. Key to parenting is having a sense of humour. Parents without this, can potentially cause more damage than those who are by the book. Gotta go feed junior his lucky charms!
Jan. 17, 2011, 9:39 am

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