Written by Emily
At my 20-week ultrasound, the technician announced, “It’s a boy!” I turned to my husband, and a silly grin widened across his face while he said, “You know I don’t care, but …” But there in that room, flashing before his eyes, was a montage of childhood memories he could re-live and new adventures he could have with a son.
And there, growing inside me was the last boy to carry on a family name…no pressure or anything just the future of a family, but whatever, you’re only 12 ounces, you’ve got plenty of time.
How I loved that grainy picture of my boy…my boy.
And then he came. At first, my only concern was the penis. How much maintenance was involved? I don’t physically own one, so hygiene was an issue for me. Just how thoroughly do I need to clean this thing? I did okay. Hurdle one…cleared. Penis: In tact. Clean. Functioning properly (as far as I can tell).
Next hurdle: raising him.
Two weeks ago, Noah’s gym teacher stopped my husband in the parking lot of the school after drop off. She proceeded to share some of the loveliest compliments about our boy…sincere compliments that made me cry when my husband relayed them to me. Her words are seared into my brain like a brand. I’m sure I’ll be sharing those very words with his high school love interests and again at the rehearsal dinner before his wedding and with everyone he knows until he rolls his eyes at the first sight of me opening my mouth to talk.
One part, though, keeps coming back to me. She closed with, “He is going to be the kind of man we want as a member of our society.”
Yikes. No pressure or anything, Noah, just your future as a man, but whatever, you’re only six, you’ve got plenty of time.
I keep wondering: Is the kind of “man” we want in society different than the kind of woman we want in society?
At playgrounds and play-dates the favorite idiom seems to say so: “Boys will be boys,” parents announce when their boys are destructive forces to be reckoned with. “Boys will be boys” parents shrug as they go to their boy who is scaling the fireplace facade like Spiderman. “Boys will be boys,” they say when their boy is yelling, rolling, tumbling, throwing punches, being aggressive.
Will they? Will “boys be boys”? If so, what is the point of me, the mom? Am I to rein it in? If Noah is programmed with slime and snails and puppy dog tails, then what is the use? Boys will be boys.
Except my boy is not the same as your boy.
Your boy is not the same as my boy.
Our boys are different.
If I subscribed to this notion that boys are boys are boys are boys, I’d probably like standardized tests, but I don’t. I don’t believe kids are mass produced to be the same…unless we tell them and show them, and we do. We show them that boys will be boys and that that means _________________, and _____________________, and _______________________. We show it to them in cartoons and movies and advertisements and clothing.
But we’re selling them short. Our boys. Our kids. We’re telling them who they are before they even get to decide. Thankfully, our boys are not sheep. They’re smart and they have inner voices and they have interests percolating inside.
So what’s my role, the mom? I’m still working on that…
I guess I’m meant to do whatever it takes, so he can grow up to be the kind of person we want in society. Because he’s my boy…my boy. My person.
And that’s a heavy weight.