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Cassandra Barry and Joel Stein

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Cassandra Barry is sometimes known for playing the role of "my lovely wife" in Joel Stein's columns for Time magazine and other publications. His story in which she ate her own placenta in pill form is the one she's most often asked about. Her son, Laszlo, is in preschool. After several years in New York City, she loves living in Los Angeles, where she works as a textile designer. She finds it weird to write about herself in the third person like this. about joel

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My Son Thinks He’s My Romantic Boyfriend

By Cassandra Barry |

I was trying on clothes to wear to a BBQ that would also work for the book reading that Joel was giving that evening.

Laszlo was watching me get dressed and undressed and said, “I like your boo-boos.”

“My boo-boos?” I asked, worried that I had bruises on my legs or other atrocities that might prevent me from wearing a dress or shorts on one of the first weekends of the summer. “Where do I have a boo-boo?”

He pointed to my breasts and said “Those.”

“Ah,” I said. “My boobies.”

“Yeah,” he said. “I like your boobies.”

He was so casual about it. No big deal, mom. I LIKE YOUR BOOBIES. I don’t know what you’re supposed to say when a three-year-old, let alone your own son, tells you he likes your boobies, but I went with “Thanks.” Hey, I’m old, married and have a kid, so I’m thankful for any appreciation I can get at this point.

Besides, he had a vested interest in my “boo-boos” for the better part of his first year of life. Even though he’s the one who gave up on nursing, maybe he still felt a certain nostalgia for the things on some level. So I figured I’d let him weigh in as he saw fit.

Still, I wondered if maybe it was time to stop undressing in front of him. One the one hand, any kid’s potential memory of his mom’s “boo-boos” could scar him for life. Also, I’m not sure if I need to feel like my body is up for critique. Sure, for now, he “likes” my “boo-boos,” but what happens if his observation progresses to something like: “Your boo-boos look sad, Mommy.” Not letting him see me naked anymore could be a win-win for both of us.

And then things started to get even more intimate between us. Every night when Joel and I put Laszlo to bed, Laz asks me to “Lay with me for one more minute.” I lay down with him in his bed after Joel reads him a book and Laz and I talk for a couple of minutes and then I tell him I’m going to leave and that I will be back to check in on him later. One night, after I laid down with him “for one more minute,” he said the one thing every woman wants to hear from her boyfriend or husband, as he hugged me while laying down: “Cuddle with me and tell me some more things.” I totally fell for it. I started to think about opening up about the hard day I had raising this three-year-old and the smashed dreams that lined this battered path I had arrived at, when I snapped out of it. This kid was good. I wanted to high-five him, because he’s going to have mad skills with the chicks someday.

A few days later, things really got crazy when pretty much out of nowhere, Laszlo hugged me and said, “You are a sexy woman.”

I realize that this sounds like I’ve been exposing him to adult content too often. Like I’ve been letting him watch 9 ½ Weeks or Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But the reality is that other than Cars and Little Bear, he’s pretty much unexposed to movies and TV. So where did he pick this kind of thing up?

Joel. That is definitely a statement that I’ve heard Joel say often. Like when I’m washing the dishes. Or sweaty from a workout. Or sick, un-showered and stinking with bad breath. (While it IS very sweet of Joel to compliment me so often, it’s not a testament to how sexy I actually am, but to how oversexed Joel is.)

A couple of days later, I told my hairdresser about Laszlo’s quote. His expression seemed to be appalled at first, followed by amusement. And then he said, “Well, at least he didn’t call you a ‘bitch’, because that’s what he was hearing Dad say around the house.”

Exactly. If Laszlo is picking up some flirty skills from my husband, then so be it. It’s a lot better than him thinking I’m a bitch.

He’s a clingy kid and really, it’s too much trouble to get him out of a room when I want to change. So, I’ll continue to undress in front of him. Until he’s ready to stop clinging to me. Or until he starts to get bitchy with the comments. That’s when I’ll know he’s too old to see me naked.

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About Cassandra Barry


Cassandra Barry

Cassandra Barry is sometimes known for playing the role of "my lovely wife" in Joel Stein's columns for Time magazine and other publications. Her son, Laszlo, is in preschool. After several years in New York City, she loves living in Los Angeles, where she works as a textile designer.

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21 thoughts on “My Son Thinks He’s My Romantic Boyfriend

  1. Chelsea T says:

    I have a 4-yr-old son and all I can say is…my thoughts exactly. It’s much better to take these things in stride and allow our kids to develop healthy habits and ways of expressing themselves than it is to freak out and make them feel ashamed. Besides, the Oedipus complex is nothing new. Mothers are the first females that little boys fall in love with, and all we can do is be the type of confident, encouraging women that we hope for them to find someday.

    Good for you for bringing up this potentially awkward subject.

  2. Erin says:

    This is so funny! I am getting the say behavior from my 2 1/2 year old son. He tells me he likes my boobies and actually asks to see my boobies when I am changing or if he just so happens to think of it. He asks for me to lay down with him every night too. If I leave before he is ready for me to he actually starts counting for me to sit or lay back down. I haven’t gotten the “sexy woman” however my husband has taught him that I should be “hot momma”. He only says that on demand…not randomly thank goodness! Glad to see I am not alone and other mommies have little boyfriends too LOL! Good luck!

  3. Kat says:

    My son tells me almot every day that he likes my boobies. Then he reaches over to rub them or smoosh his face into them. I set boundaries about that but I do get tired of having to tell my 3 year old to get off my boobs! He nursed til his 3rd bday though so I suppose it is my fault ;) he turns 4 soon, hoping it will taper off a bit especially after I wean the baby and he stops seeing them out all the time.

  4. Jessi R says:

    My little 3 year old guy is much the same, and he’s disappointed that he doesn’t have boobies too. He also asks me to lay down with him, “Not for a little bit, for a big bit!” Obviously I am almost powerless to such a request. He hasn’t busted out the “sexy woman” line yet… I would have a hard time holding back from laughing, and he’s at such a sensitive age right now it would probably hurt his feelings!
    Your little mister sounds like a real sweetie :)

  5. Katie says:

    Haha my 3 year old saw me changing the other day and asked me where my “pickle” was!

  6. nikki says:

    i personally think that at a certain age when the child starts to notice the differences in boys and girls i think its time to stop undressing in front of them no child should look at there mothers boobies and say i like them…..i think at that point not over reacting ….you should sit your son down and tell him that big girls have boobies and boy dont grow them and that he is now to big to be looking at mommies……. thank him and kindly ask him to leave even if a winning fit should happen they should be thought boundaries early on in age

  7. Lindsey says:

    @Nikki: I don’t understand your comment. If you are uncomfortable changing in front of your children that’s a personal choice and one I respect as do I think that as a child develops body awareness that you have a developmentally appropriate discussion with them regarding gender differences. With that said your comment, “No child should look at there mothers boobies and say I like them….” makes no sense to me. It sounds as though you are assuming/thinking that there is some sort of sexual undertone or innuendo attached to his very innocent comment. Most children love everything about there mother and father. To them it is just another body part that they “love.” They are also just beginning to understand the word, “love” and apply it to just about everything. Perhaps he finds love, comfort and security in the arms of his mother while laying his head against her breast. Hugs and cuddles and head on breast = security = I feel loved = “I love your boo boo’s mommy.”

  8. Ingrid says:

    Totally normal. And healthy. It is a good place to start a conversation, but there is nothing wrong with a three year old, a 6 year old or even a 9 year old wanting his mom to cuddle him.

  9. Patti says:

    Ha! My 3 year old *daughter* loves my boobies, too – though I encourage her to refer to them as breasts. She thinks they’re just fantastic and can’t wait to have some of her own when she grows up :)

  10. Danielle says:

    I agree with lindsey every baby has to come into there own and grow up. Doing so little boys notice differences between mommy and themselves but also i beleive in spending soo much time cuddling.holding ur baby throughout the day the baby .hearing ur heart beat since conception and/ or simply breatfeeding makes them relate to the feeling of being safe and comfortable. I dont think that the boy loves the boobies but more as the safe loving feeling they get when mommy is holding their baby against her chest. Mother of a beautiful baby girl.

  11. Korinthia Klein says:

    My boo-boos are popular with everyone in my house. It’s weird, but I’m with you that we should just take appreciation when we can get it.

  12. Court says:

    All I could do was smile when I read your article. My three year old daughter tells me I’m sexy all the time.. I just smile and tell her, “thanks, you are too.” Children do pick up very quickly what their parents say, lol. Thanks for posting this article. I’m not alone afterall :)

  13. Nan says:

    My two older boys are as tall as I am now, and I still occasionally dress with my bedroom door open… they are really comfortable with their own bodies and I like that they know what a real woman looks like naked.

    My middle boy told me when he was three: “I just love your boobies mummy, they are so soft and hangy-down, like a bunny rabbit’s ears!” Eek!


  14. Jessie K says:

    “I started to think about opening up about the hard day I had raising this three-year-old and the smashed dreams that lined this battered path I had arrived at, when I snapped out of it.” Ha ha ha ha!

  15. Duke says:

    This is why boys are having sex With there school But im glad my mom didn’t show Me hers I’d be scarred for life seeing that she was raped by teenage boys mauled her boobsThat early in life there moms let them look at there boobs. Way to go past present and future moms

  16. duke says:

    Maybe your mom should have been teaching you proper grammar. I had trouble reading your comment due to it’s lack of punctuation.

  17. Lisa says:

    that was great Nan I also want my children to appreciate all sizes and yes what a real woman looks like! Honestly if you aren’t comfortable in your own skin then don’t be naked in front of your children. In our home we are comfortable and appreciate all comments!

  18. HeatherRK says:

    This is hilarious! I have 3 boys and can tell you it’s the same with every one. I remember when my oldest (and only at that point) was about 3 sitting on my mother’s deck with a neighbor I had known well and babysat for years before. My son was being especially clingy and interested in my boobs that night so I asked my mom and her neighbor when he would grow out of that phase. She laughed out loud and said “not until he’s interested in someone else’s!” How true that was lol!

  19. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already Cheers!

  20. Lee says:

    I’m sure the Oedipus complex has been around as long as there have been Mothers and Sons. My father died when I was 3 and my Mother never remarried. I grew up with not only a beautiful Mother but also 4 beautiful older sisters. I was the youngest in the family and nudity was just common place. I remember being fascinated with the differences between my Mother’s and Sister’s bodies and My body. I also remember how struck I was by their grace and beauty. I remember thinking how their bodies were works of art. Me being the only boy they never made me feel like an outsider or tried to hide anything from me. Of course my Sisters were also interested in my body, especially as I got older. I went through their first periods with them and gave a lot of back rubs and belly rubs. They were fascinated by my erections. Sometimes they even used it as a handle to guide me to bath time or bed time. Our Mother never discouraged our curiosity and was always available to answer our questions about girls, boys, sex, babies. We did experiment with each other, but we never thought of each other in a sexual way, that would have been eww. Without being told, children know beauty when they see it. So Mothers should feel pride when their Son says your beautiful. To this day I believe my Mother, and my Sisters are the most beautiful women I have ever known. But of course I love them all so much, I see their inner beauty too.

  21. Victoria says:

    So glad I found this article. My son behaves the exact same way. At first I thought it was inappropriate but after reading this I realize how cute and sweet it really is. His birthday is next month so I might give him a real eyeful as a present. He’ll be 18.

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