I missed the memo about little boys.
When I was pregnant, my husband and I absolutely agreed that we didn’t want to know the baby’s gender before the birth. But I’ll let you in on a little secret…I really wanted a boy. Yeah, yeah…healthy baby, blah, blah, blah…I wanted a boy.
So finally, the midwife got a peek at the goods and cheerfully announced, “It’s a boy!” And I was tickled, and relieved. Having been a good, but difficult, daughter to my own mom, I figured a boy had to be easier than a girl, right? Well, kinda. I’ll speculate that the emotional connection between my son and me will be a little less complicated than a mother-daughter relationship. But keeping him alive is a lot harder than I ever expected.
My son’s survival is threatened not only by the crazy, death-defying stuff he’s already doing, but he’s also at risk of being murdered by me on a nearly daily basis. Well, “murder” is a strong word…I suppose the correct legal term would be “manslaughter” since if I ever kill my son it will unintentional, but in the heat of battle. You see, my son has no regard for either his own or my cranial or abdominal integrity and thus he has battered me mercilessly in recent months. He’s not an angry kid, but heavens, he’s rough. He gleefully performs moves that the WWF would find impressive, just for the sheer joy of feeling his body fly through space and undoubtedly for the amusement of hearing me howl and shriek. Life with my boy is one long isometric work out as I am always cringing and flinching in anticipation of the next flying elbow drop.
Of course I coddle, counsel, and scold my son to be more gentle with me. And there are ridiculously tender moments when he strokes my hair and gives me sweet hugs and sloppy kisses. After all, this kid loves his mama. But gentle is really not in his DNA. He may have the thrill seeking gene, and watching “Jackass” gives me a chilling preview of what’s to come.
But here’s the thing…though all the rough housing is not exactly my cup of tea and one particularly vicious headbutt was good for two trips to the dentist, I don’t want to discipline the boy-ness out of my boy. It seems like little girls are celebrated in our culture while little boys get demonized a bit. I think that typical little girl behavior is just more convenient than typical little boy behavior, and as a consequence there seems to be a tendency to pathologize boy behavior a little too much. Boys will be boys is kind of trite, but kind of true. I hope I can let my boy just be a boy.
In guiding my son, I’m hoping to keep him out of the emergency room and/or jail while ensuring he doesn’t lose the energetic zeal he seems to have for life. So, Mrs. Knoxville, if you have any advice, please call me. Fingers crossed and memo received.