The joys and challenges of raising a boy…

When I was about 10 years old, I had decided that I would have twin boys and name them Jason & Justin. There was no particular reason, but it was a certainty for me at that time.

When I was around 16, as part of my “coming-out” process, the first person I told that I was a lesbian was my sister Rachael. I remember her crying all night about it, concerned mostly that “now you won’t have children!” For some reason, in 1976, I believed that reasoning. I went on believing it for a few more years before I came to my senses and decided to be a “pioneer lesbian” who defied societal expectations and became a mother. It was a no-brainer for me, really. I had a uterus and by golly I was going to use it!

Fast forward to 2001, when after already becoming a mother 3 times to 3 beautiful daughters (2 from a previous relationship), my partner and I were told that she was carrying twins-a boy and a girl. Now, the last 3 pregnancies, were certainly open to the possibility of having a boy, but without fail, I welcomed the news that they were girls with excitement. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a boy, but I really had no clue about raising a boy and I was scared to embark on that journey. By this last pregnancy, I was excited, elated, yet still scared shitless!

Raising a boy has been quite a pleasant surprise for me. I grew up in a family with 3 sisters, have always been attracted to females, so my exposure to the male species is much more limited than many. On the surface, boys up to the age of 1 don’t seem all that different than girls, and since he couldn’t complain, I’m here to say that dressing my son in outfits traditionally made for girls when his blue or yellow sleeper wasn’t clean hasn’t seemed to scar him. Even the flowery onesies didn’t make him more effeminate and I believe only contributed to augment his feminine side. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that boys are different than girls in many ways.

Even if I tried hard to raise them all the same, which I do on many levels, there are many distinct differences. For instance, he doesn’t seem to whine as much as the girls. He has tantrums, but he gets over them and moves on, not holding a grudge or acting pouty. He likes stereotypical boy toys that have motors and moving parts, require assembly, have wheels, make noise, and dig in the ground. While the girls have enjoyed them as well, they tended to gravitate to more to stereotypical girl things up to this age. All of them have been through the American Girl doll phase, but those never seemed to attract my son. They all like music, dress-up, and sports, but  know we won’t allow them to play with guns or even look like they’re shooting a gun, so that activity is completely out.

One of the issues that I worried most about when thinking of having a son, was the whole subject of male genitalia. What to do with it, what not to do with it, how to clean it, what to teach about touching it, how to pee with it, etc. For 9 plus years, we have dealt with how to tuck it into the diaper, pull the foreskin back to clean it, teaching him to clean it when he got older, teaching him to go to his room if he was going to touch himself in front of us, and all was going well. In fact, after I had initially decided when he was born, that we were going to teach him only to sit on the toilet and hold his penis down to pee, I soon relinquished that idea and allowed him (once he was tall enough to reach over the seat) to pee standing up. I’d heard horror stories about walls and surrounding radiators, furniture, and sinks getting sprayed by pee in boy-centered households, and I’d vowed that he would sit down to pee until he was 18. Happily for him and his other mother, I changed my mind at about 3 years old and now he’s an upstanding member of the male population, pun intended!

Fast-forward to this past weekend when my wife & I had a wonderful 3 nights away and the kids stayed with their fun Auntie Val and Uncle Arthur and cousin Bradley. Staying at Auntie Val’s is always an exciting time. They get to cook and eat delicious goodies, swim in the pool, play video games, and do all sorts of fun things. At nine years old, my son is now needing to take on more responsibility for himself and his actions. Apparently, it’s also his time to bond with other males, big and small instead of constantly being surrounded by an all-female clan. Here he can celebrate his masculinity by shooting arrows out back with Uncle Arthur, tease the girls in the pool with cousin Bradley, and play video games all day if he wants because Auntie Val has enough girls in the kitchen to help her! Life is good!

When we come back to pick them up, we swoop in and hear stories quickly, get updated by Val in the corner of the kitchen, and sometimes need to hear about events of mis-behaving and tantrums. This time, it was a little different.

“Arthur had to have ‘the talk’ with him,” Val said. My first thought was “he’s too young for that, isn’t he?” Then she got more specific…”He needed to learn about putting the seat up before he pees.” she said. “Arthur explained that good manners means that you lift up the seat to not dribble all over the seat, put the seat down after, cover the top, then flush it.” My other daughters chimed in when I instinctively defended him, “he doesn’t drip hardly at all at home and always wipes it off,” I said. “NO, HE DOESN”T!” his twin and her big sister said in unison. Well, he always did when I was looking…

So, why do I feel like I was kind of reprimanded too? I guess it’s because I always felt that if he wasn’t spraying the walls, floors, or surrounding furniture, it was a bonus. I don’t have expectations from the girls besides FLUSHING THE TOILET once and a while, telling me when the toilet isn’t flushing so another person doesn’t go and do a big poop and it won’t flush! I harp on the damn toothpaste cover never getting put back on and the clumps of toothpaste littering the sink, the toothpaste spray on the mirror and the towels left on the floor, but to get on my son’s case about not wiping off the dribble every time? I’m actually OK with him not lifting up the seat, believe it or not. I’m more crazy about the germs ON the seat, and knowing that I have to ask him each and every time I know he’s used the toilet, “have you washed your hands?” and he gives me a sly smile and says “yes,” which means “no,” makes me feel better knowing that he hasn’t, in fact, also touched the seat, transferred those germs now to the toilet handle…

Bottom line? There is none. I still don’t know how I feel about it. I guess in my perfect world, he would use a piece of toilet paper to lift the seat, wash his hands every time he goes near a bathroom, and if he dribbles even on the rim, wipe it off, because the next person to lift up that seat is going to touch his dried up pee on the bottom of the seat and them I won’t be able to even touch the handle without disinfecting it first! Did I mention that I’m turning into my mother?! That’s for another day…

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laurie Harrison
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 17:09:44

    In an age where everyone seems to have a blog, most of them not being all that enlightening or entertaining, I often times read only the very start and hit the back button feeling only a twinge of guilt. (I believe that with so much good material to read…whether online or in print…a person only needs to give the material a certain amount of time to grab her attention. For books, I subtract my age from 100 and that’s the number of pages I feel I should read before I can close the book without feeling compelled to complete it.) Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It had a great mix of reflection, humour and honesty. Please keep writing.

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  2. Suz
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 09:35:14

    Your son could SIT while peeing, like a good European, and there would be less worry for you, dah-ling.

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