Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You're So Much Like Me. I'm Sorry

This post is a ramble about gender neutral parenting, my sons' personalities, and how I see me in them.  Not just Slim's hair or Curly's dimple, but in their walk and their talk.  Occasionally, when they wake in the morning, I sing a warbled, out of tune, modified, rise and shine version of Ben Folds' Still Fighting It:  "Good morning son.  I am your mom.  Wearing hospital pants for pjs.  You want a hug?  Maybe a kiss?  How about some pancakes for breakfast?  It's okay.  We're gonna have a great day.  I just can't wait!"  In the real version, there's a recurring line in the song, "And you're so much like me.  I'm sorry."  I love my children, flaws and all, but I sure wish that some of the flaws they have weren't inherited from me thanks to nature and nurture.  It's scary knowing how potentially harmful my influential traits might be.  Thankfully, they're not all me.  They're them.

Curly is physical and charming and one step away from disaster that he almost always manages to avert. I joke that he's smart enough to figure out how to get out of a situation he got himself into nine times out of ten, but it's the tenth time you have to watch out for! Thankfully, as his mother, who spends day in/day out with him, I am immune to his irrepressible, dimpled grin that defies discipline. This boy could likely be described as a mama's boy because he loves snuggling with me or winds up hiding behind my metaphorical skirts when he feels timid. However, he might just turn that hug into a wrestling move if you're not careful. I couldn't help but shake my head in embarrassment and resigned mirth as he tackled his brother to the ground. On the floor of the grocery store. While I was paying. He lives joyfully and he wants you to too.

Slim is intelligent and analytical in a way that outwits me and R - and I don't think we're at all dumb (even if motherhood has killed more brain cells than I'd care to admit.)  The kid is BIG TIME into dinosaurs .  He revels in the mud and dirt and sand, drawing pictures with his fingers in the transient medium, looking for creepy crawlies, often with a magnifying glass in hand.  He gravitates towards people in such a sincere, friendly way that I can't pull off.  Since we've moved,  Slim insists on introducing himself to everyone. And his spiel is, "Hi, I'm Slim. I'm a four year old. But on my next birthday, which is mumble mumble, not sharing his birth date here, mumble mumble, I'll be a five year old. We just moved here from Florida. Did you just move here too?" To ev-er-y-oneI love how personable he is, but it is hard having an extroverted child when I'm so not.

And Slim's favorite color is pink.

And I've seen them both breastfeeding dolls.  Slim was convinced that he could make chocolate milk come out of his nipples when I was nursing Curly.

And Curly probably cleans better than I do.  I call him my little Danny Tanner because he is so adept at picking up.

Yeah, my son has a pink (and blue) butterfly on his face. But so what?  I didn’t encourage his face painting choice, but I didn't discourage it either.  In doing so, I showed Slim I honor him.  I showed Curly I honored him by asking if he wanted his face painted too and not forcing him when he shook his head vehemently.

When I talk to them about love and marriage and family, I frame it in gender neutral terms (except son.  Unless that changes one day in the future, right now, they are my sons.)  I tell them that I hope, one day, they find a partner who loves them and respects them.  That it's best to start a family with that kind of person.  Because who doesn't want that for their child?  A partner in life.  I don't care if that's a man or a woman or if Slim or Curly realize that they are transgender.  I. don't. care.  I want my kids to know that I love and support them and if I can set up that framework of love and support now, so that if they were to come out, they would feel safe to do so with me, all the better.

When we walk around Target or Toys R Us, I gently correct them when they say, "That's the girl toy aisle."  "You know guys, there's no such thing as toys that are just for girls or just for boys.  Boys can play with dolls and girls can play with cars."  People?  My sister is the reason that our younger brothers had a huge Matchbox car collection.  My brothers also played with our castoff Barbies.  After cutting off their hair and stripping them naked. 

When I was pregnant, we got Slim an older brother present of a toy stroller and baby carrier.  Because guess what?  Dads are nurturing too.  When Curly watches me put on makeup and asks for some, I indulge him by swiping my brush blush on his cheeks.  I'll admit, I say things like, "Not all men wear makeup" or "Other boys may not like a pink car for a gift", not to dampen their spirits, but to give them a little taste of the outside world from a trusted source.

I think they're going to be okay.  They're going to get hurt; not just physically, but emotionally.  They'll look back on childhood fondly (I hope), despite some bad memories.  There will be things people don't like about them.  But none of us are unscathed by Life.  And who they are?  As I described them to you today?  I reiterate - I think they're going to be okay.

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