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March 10, 2014

boys

I have to tell you something...and it's a secret.

I realize it's not a secret if it's on the internet.

I wanted girls.

Now...before you go all "oh you should be happy and grateful that you have happy and healthy children" on me, let me explain.

I wanted girls...not because I wanted to dress them up.  I didn't want to put them in tutus and have them in ballet from the time that they were too young to walk and put them in pageants.  Well...there still might have been plenty - at least some - of that (the tutus and ballet part).

I wanted girls because I felt prepared for girls.

Wanna know why?  Good, cause that's what this post is about.

One.  I have a fantabulous relationship with my mother.  We never had those weird competition vibes with each other that you see so often on tv.

Two.  I worked at a residential summer camp for 6 summers.  And while I will admit that working at a residential summer camp is really NOTHING like having your own children, one does get to spend a lot of time with a lot of kids (ages 7-18) for extended periods of time.  One tends to pick up some hints on how one might raise girls.

Three.  I almost minored in Women's Studies (it's a long story and there's no reason to go in to the fact that I am one class shy from the actual minor...I still feel like a Women's Studies minor.  And really, just like no one cares what one's GPA was in college, NO ONE cares what one minored in, except for the person who was one class shy of the minor).  We had a lot of discussion about female adolescence and what was really wrong with American girls' upbringing (and no, I do not think that Barbies are the root of all evil).  We talked about ways to be prepared and react to the throes of female adolescence (I know there are some parents of female adolescents that are laughing and cringing at what I'm saying right now).  I'm not saying we talked about everything, but I am saying that we at least had discussions about female adolescence.  That's a lot more than a lot of other people can say.

I wanted girls because I was going to teach them and tell them and impress upon them that they could do anything.  And that they probably wouldn't be the best.  At anything.  And that that's ok.  Because, really, no one is the best at anything.  There is always someone better, stronger, faster, smarter than you.  I would teach them that the important thing is that they try their hardest, and they do their best. They would always be the best in my eyes if they did that.

I wanted girls because of how mad it made me when people (mostly men) said that girls were harder to raise than boys.  Who made that rule?  Did anyone ever consider that maybe they treated their daughters differently than they treated their sons and that THAT might be the reason that girls were "harder" to raise than boys?  While I understand the inherent biological difference between boys and girls I want to argue (from the peanut gallery, mind you, as I have no girls) that like Supernanny demonstrates every episode, the way we behave as adults toward each other and toward our children directly influences the way our children behave.

I wanted them to be able to do whatever it was that they wanted to do (within reason): play soccer, dance, be a doctor, archeologist, architect, executive director of a camp and conference center, be a wrestler, be a cheerleader, be a chef, be a mechanic, a banker, an artist, a psychiatrist, whatever.  I don't care as long as they're happy and not hurting themselves or other people.   And I was hoping that I could help them pave their own way and have less struggles than I have had (which was not many), and have less struggles than my contemporaries have had, and certainly have less struggles than our mothers and grandmothers have had.

I wanted them to demand respect for themselves.  Not demanding it by words, but by proving that they deserved respect by their actions.  By working hard.  By knowing their own worth and proving it to others by being accountable for their actions and meaning what they say and saying what they mean.  By respecting others, no matter who they were or what their background was.

I was ready for girls.

And...

And then I had boys.




And I will be the first to admit, rather grudgingly, that they weren't the first thing that I was expecting.

To be honest, it really hadn't occurred to me that I would have boys.  I thought it was a done deal that we would have girls.

I understand how ridiculous that sounds. 

Now, of course, my boys are fantastic.  And I know that they love me as much as a two-year-old can understand the emotion.  And I love them more than I could ever explain to you.  Seriously.  Ever.  And, things are fantastic.  As I've said before, I am completely and utterly amazed by them.  Every day.

I kind of let go that, ya know, there probably weren't going to be any tutus.  Don't get me wrong, if they want to wear tutus, I am ALL about that.  But, I'm not going to be surprised, or disappointed, if they don't want to wear tutus.

To be honest, after they were born, there wasn't copious amounts of free time to think about how I had boys instead of girls.  There was only time to get to know them and postpartum me and establish the new normal in our household.

But this past Christmas, as they were playing with the kitchen Husband and I gave them; as we watched them play with balls (and be enamored with any sporting event in real life or on tv) and want to throw and catch and throw; as we watch Win dance with real gusto, a knowledge of his body, and - dare I say it - a little bit of rhythm (and secretly smile at each other knowing that we'd be completely happy if he was a real dancer in real life); as they learn all of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy characters; as they watch Daddy cook most of their meals; as they watch and learn that Mommy is the "fixer of things"; as I realize that the first color they can correctly identify is pink; as we watch them play with dolls and play food and paint and playdo and footballs and basketballs -



I realize that we are raising children - humans.

We made tiny humans and they are awesome and we get a hand in brainwashing raising them.  I know that it doesn't matter what their gender is.  I know there will be tough times.  I know there will be mistakes and hard decisions that we later regret.  I also know that these are some of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had.  And I believe that I will continue to have beautiful experiences mixed in with all the other crap.

I know that they can work toward gender equality whether they are boys or girls.

We will teach them to demand respect for themselves by working hard and by respecting others, no matter the person.

They can be anything they want to be as long as it makes them happy.  But they probably won't be the best.  And that's ok.  There is always someone better, stronger, faster, smarter than they are. What matters to me is that they try.  And try their best.  They would always be the best in my eyes if that did that.



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