Welcome to Annie’s first entry. I am sure that it isn’t nearly so exciting for you, dear Reader, as it is for me, a bona fide blog virgin. (Well, until now.)
A couple of nights ago my eleven-year-old son said that while his older sister is great with helping him to learn how to be a teen, “She can’t teach me how to be a guy…and before you even say it, neither can you, Mom.”
Well, I’ve been chewing on that one and tonight I stand ready to make my case as to why I most certainly can teach the boy some things about ‘guyhood.’
“What do you want to know?” a male in his life asked when the topic arose. (The boy was crimson and cringing at that point—bad Mommy, for having brought it up.)
“Look, all you need to know is to respect your mother—respect women,” the fellow said. (My boy’s eyes rolled.)
But really, isn’t there more to it? In my experience with relationships (I’ve kissed a few toads), the men I have most admired, those who consistently “man-up,” those who have had the greatest emotional depth and sensitivity—their childhoods were prominently defined by women—mothers, sisters, grandmothers, often in the absence for one reason or another—of men. Of the real jerks, I’d say just the opposite. (For once, my ex is the exception.)
Perhaps what it comes down to is a difference between what I want my son to be and what he wants to be himself. Perhaps he wants to be a man’s man through and through. With emasculated men the butt of ads for products pitched at men from manly cars to manly soap (Dove, really?)—it’s no wonder he—like a lot of adult men—is having trouble distilling what it is to be modern and masculine. Is putting the seat down emasculating? Does consideration for the women in a guy’s life reduce him to a pantywaist? Isn’t masculinity assaulted on every front? Just have a look at Samantha Bee on The Daily Show.
I do the mothering and the fathering, all the dad stuff: the camping, hiking and boating; the sporting events and chess playing—I’m there. But I can’t teach my boys how to relate to jerks, nor how to be jerks, not any more than a quality dad could or would. I can’t treat them how to mistreat women or one another, not any more than any good dad.
(Wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it went tomorrow.)