Boys will be boys.
Boys need to be tough. Man up. Get a set.
At eight years old, my son is three years and nine months younger than my daughter. We are open with I love yous, hugs and snuggles. My daughter has always been loving and nurturing with him, so he has always only known love, kindness and affection.
Not that he hasn’t been yelled at, scolded and corrected. He has.
But my son is the kind of boy who tells me constantly how much he loves me– as big as everything in the universe.
When I get leg cramps, he drops what he’s doing and concentrates his hands on my leg to make it feel better. And then he asks for the next two days if it’s still feeling ok.
When I’m carrying a pizza out to the car, he points out the ice in the parking lot so I don’t slip.
He’s a goofball who makes Lego vehicles of every sort, tries to make time machines and recycling factories, quarterbacks his football team, makes half the points for his basketball team, and races around the soccer field like a crazed maniac.
And when he gets upset, or scared, or frustrated, he cries.
Some see him and call him soft. A wimp. A pussy.
They say, He’s got to get over it. He’s going to be bullied. Kids are going to make fun of him.
I say, Fuck you.
Am I embarrassed sometimes? Sure. Do I enjoy having to wipe his tears when he doesn’t understand why a friend would push him down? No. Do I wish sometimes he’d haul off and deck a kid? Yes.
It’s what I did when I was younger.
But when I see your kid laughing and tormenting my kid because he’s an easy target, I’ll take my kid.
When I see your kid calling my kid a baby because he cries when he gets tackled to the cement for no reason, I’ll take my kid.
When I see your kid throwing a bat in anger or punching a wall in frustration, I’ll definitely take my kid.
This ongoing stereotype of what it means to be a boy or a man gets tiring. It becomes a cycle of rationalization for parents and society. My kid can be an ass because he’s a boy? I applaud my daughter making fun of someone because that means she’s not a girly-girl?
When did being kind and empathetic become being a pussy?
I was an ass kicking kind of kid. I grew up in a house with an older brother and dad who constantly teased me and made me cry. And when I cried, they made fun of me. They called me a baby, which made me cry harder.
So I got harder.
And I treated others the same way. I couldn’t win at home, so I made sure to win on the playground. I fought anyone who challenged me. When a kid picked on my best friend Lou, I came home, put on my snowsuit, went back up to school and kicked that kid’s ass. When fighting stopped being the answer, my tongue could shut anyone up in seconds.
No one fucked with me.
And at 44 I’m still trying to undo the damage. Still trying to be kind rather than critical. Still trying to be someone I’d like to be friends with. Still trying to create a different experience and childhood for my own kids.
I don’t want either of my kids to repeat my history. I don’t want them to look at themselves with confusion and regret as I often have. To burn bridges and friendships and significant others just because they could.
So, you can think what you want about my son.
I love his sweet soul. His caring nature, his creativity, his questioning mind, his athleticism and his heart that loves me as big as everything in the universe.
But say anything to my face and I’ll punch your fucking teeth out.
You know, just for old time’s sake.