I received my undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which means I know all I need to know about ‘nature vs. nurture.’ Actually…correction…which means I thought I knew all I needed to know about ‘nature vs. nurture.’ And now I realize, I don’t know shit.
When I set out on this parenting journey, I was determined to raise my children free from the societal constraints of gender stereotyping. I dressed my daughter in ambiguous colors like YELLOW and GREEN. And resisted the urge to punch people, often strangers mind you, when they suggested I pierce my daughter’s ears so “you could tell she’s a girl.”
Early on I thought it worked. My daughter was hell on wheels. She was a bad ass. She hated pink. She never liked dolls. Once at a play date when she was 18 months old I found her backing a 5 year old into a corner; giving the poor girl a beat down. She was no typical girl. …She just got back from fashion design camp.
Then I had my son. Again, much to my husband’s frustration, I dressed my son in ambiguous colors. I dressed him in PINK. I gave him dolls. He was loving and charming and liked to snuggle. When he started exhibiting moves like Jagger, I signed him up for ballet. And really, that’s when it all began to crumble for him. Or me, I guess.
I put this child in dance, and for one year he stood, unmoving, on his floor tape while the little girls in the class first positioned and twirled. Well, that’s not exactly true. At the end of every class his ballet teacher would play a song that had the kids move like different animals. My son participated in that. At the recital, my husband told him he would pay him $5 to do the robot on stage. My son wasn’t interested. He stood on stage, on his tape, unmoving, a look on his face that said, “woman, do you see me up here in white spandex pants, a baby blue velour turtle neck shirt, and black ballet slippers?! Get. Me. DOWN!” We have pictures. He’s going to hate me when I show those to his girlfriends.
Pretty much from that point on my son has been a rough and tumble boy, and I have had to admit that despite relatively careful parenting, there’s some stuff boys do that is just boy stuff.
Now admittedly, I could have taken my commitment to raising the kids free from gender stereotyping to a whole ‘nother level by dressing the kids in skirts, not telling anyone their names for 5 years, and omitting any pronouns that gave people a hint of their gender (calling them “it” instead of “he or she, for instance”). But I can’t lie for crap, and I suck at keeping surprises. So that attempt would have lasted about 5 minutes. Plus, I’m not really in to turning my kids into lab rats.
I bring this up because I’m a girl, and I’m an only child, and I was a “tom boy,” but that’s just not the same. I observe some of the things my son does, and I think “Where the hell did that come from?! That’s got to be biologically coded.” We’ve got energy. We’ve got the ability to construct and properly identify weapons we’ve never seen. We’ve got the need to jump off things. We’ve got the need to climb everything. Farting. Burping. And a oneness with pooping that is disarming. He loves to poop. He takes his time. It’s like his meditation time. Yesterday I asked if he got to slide on the big water slide at camp and he said, “no, I took a really long poop and didn’t have time to take my swim test.” Oooooh-kay then.
When he asks to go the bathroom in a store my first question is always, pee or poop? If he says poop. My immediate response is, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NO!” Because now we’re going to be in the store for at least another hour. Bless him.
Today, I took him over to a friend’s house. I was alone babysitting my friend’s children. The kids all went out to jump on the trampoline. At one point I looked out and my son and my friend’s son were essentially cage fighting. There was wrestling and pin downs. It looked like Vince Vaughn and his brothers in Four Christmases. I texted my husband and friend and said, “Umm, sorry to bother… Boy on boy WWF wrestling on the trampoline…Normal, don’t worry? or STOP IMMEDIATELY!?…… ANSWER QUICK.”
BECAUSE I CANNOT DO ANOTHER ER TRIP WITH THIS BOY, PEOPLE!
The men folks’ answer? “Don’t worry about it until there’s blood.”
So apparently it’s not anything my son is going to grow out of……..