I grew up in a household where sex was not discussed. I learned everything I know about sex on the mean streets of Dry Ridge, Kentucky. I wanted it to be different for my children. My son, however, did not.
I pointed to a bottle with red and green sparkles that reminded me of Christmas and another one with silver sparkles that seemed a good choice for New Year's Eve. "No. This one," he said, sidestepping my choices and picking the sparkly pink. I threw it in my cart.
As mommy to young kids, there were so many particulars that needed tending to simply get through a day responsibly and with the least amount of tantrums -- "Not the blue bowl!!! The red!" But now that we're a bit older, a lot of these peculiarities have faded away.
It would be awfully nice if Grandma didn't have to ask for a towel before she dared sit down on a seat, and if I didn't have to worry about burning my legs on the exposed seat-warmer wires. But then I think about all of the things I would have to give up if I got a new car.
Your gender does not define you. Neither does your job or car or bank account. Be kind and brave, be a good friend and a hard worker and treat everyone with respect -- those are the qualities that will define you.
Our culture is vigilant about documenting faces with photographs before they grow and change. But their voices? Those seem to disappear into time and history like a curling spiral of smoke rising up into the sky. Just like that -- poof -- and the voices are gone.
My oldest boy is turning 5 soon. My youngest boy just turned 1. Between them I am sure that I could solve the energy crisis, if only I could capture the intense amount of vigor that zings and swirls around them all day (and night) long.
As my boys approach adulthood and start relationships of their own with women outside our house, I'm more keenly aware of what they learn both here and outside these walls. And sadly, it's not as simple as letting them choose the pink shirt over the blue one.
In my vision, there were tea parties and tutus. There were hours spent quietly reading on the couch together. There were braids and pigtails. There was shopping and giggling. There was peace and love and joy and... and... peace. Then, I had boys.
At times, I had relied on their division somewhat to keep from doing things I didn't want to do. Alone they were a single, sometimes whiny voice, but united they were a force, their powers tripled. If they really started working together, they would be unstoppable!
I wanted to protect him, but the more I focused on him, the more he fought it off. It was like he already had a shield of armor around his heart, which pretty much broke mine. I thought I had sealed his fate and he was punishing me.
"Mommy! Get that ball!" My 5-year old calls out as I'm walking out the door holding a coffee in one hand, a water bottle under my arm, my 40-pound pocketbook over my shoulder, two camp knapsacks over the other arm and a bag of dirty clothes for the dry cleaner.
When I used to work with kids on their writing, my favorites were always the eighth grade boys. They didn't even pretend to like to write. 'I'm a terrible writer,' each would say. Even though that was rarely ever true.
My middle son is the Recorder. He records unusual sightings, like a bear peeing or a running cantaloupe (turned out to be an antelope.) He's responsible for writing down shopping lists, fast food orders and game scores. His creative abbreviations like J.C. (just ketchup) keep us laughing.
My Women's Studies classes were rearing up with a vengeance in my head, but all I managed to get out was that the human body is beautiful, it shouldn't always be shared with the world and that if he ever had any questions about anything he saw that he should come to me or his dad.
I think my husband is doing a great job of teaching them what it means to be a man. My sons learn from him that men are strong, smart, silly and creative. But what am I teaching our sons about what it means to be a woman? My sons learn from me that women are strong, smart, silly and creative.