My son is your quintessential boy. Full of nonstop energy and curiosity that gets him into trouble. Too busy to pay any heed to hunger or fatigue until it is too late and all hell breaks loose. Driven by the urge to touch everything, explore every nook and cranny, and move on to something else within 5 minutes. Incredibly coordinated when he wants to be, but suddenly incompetent when it comes to inconsequential matters like eating. Completely lacking in volume control.
I didn’t know how much I would enjoy having a boy. He is my daily dose of comedy (once I get past the frustration).
I don’t believe boys and girls are exclusively different. I’ve met enough children to know that these are mere generalities. Thankfully each child is far more complex and interesting than that. But I’ve also seen enough children now to sense that there is a difference between boys and girls, more often than not. And the differences don’t really have anything to do with the typical gender roles and stereotypes that society gets all huffy and puffy about. The differences, in my opinion, are primarily rooted in what their hearts most crave and how they process the world around them. It is a lot more subtle than superficial delineations like playing with trucks versus playing with dolls.
Perhaps people over-simplify boys. This often doesn’t end with their childhood; it seems people tend to do that with men as well. Today’s media perpetuates it.
Having a son has been an adventure, marked by trial and error, as I figure out how to relate to him. It’s not all about frogs and snails and puppy dog tails. There is an incredible tenderness and heroic desire to be helpful. To be significant. There is a sincerity of heart that is easily overlooked amidst the whirlwind of activity, chaos, and misbehavior.
I had a hard time seeing this for the first 2 years. He was just such a handful. He wasn’t cuddly or affectionate in the way I had expected of a baby. He didn’t want to be held. He started walking at 8 months. Since then, I’ve been trying to just keep up. His tantrums were ugly. He had so few words until more recently and there was a lot of frustration building up. He seemed so oblivious to instruction and guidance.
We were totally not connecting.
Things have changed. I’ve learned to stop myself when I get caught up in mommy mode… and just watch him closely. I remain firm in discipline, but I’ve learned to also listen a little better and have a little more compassion. I’ve learned to give him more room for mistakes and let him do things his way when it’s safe. And I’ve learned, most of all, that he is not crazy. He is who he is. Aren’t we all a little crazy anyways?
My son is growing up. Every month brings dramatics changes. I see a little more of his incredible heart and soul. They are only brief glimpses, and then he is off again.
I’ve learned to treasure these brief glimpses.
This morning, my son crawled into our bed not too long after Daddy had left for work. Still a bit of a sleepyhead with hair tousled in every direction, he sat up and looked at me with a goofy toothy grin. He then grabbed my face and pressed his face against mine. This is his rendition of a kiss. There is no smooch. It’s more like a head butt. Despite his good intentions, it hurts a bit. He mumbles “mommy” quietly and snuggles his head into my neck, his warm little body curled up against my chest.
My eyes begin to tingle. My baby boy. My son. How fast he is growing up. Mister independent, always insisting “no me do dat” and “see me do dis”. Chattering up a storm with an up-to-the-minute commentary on all he sees and all the things he doesn’t like. Wearing our shoes and declaring that he is off to work. A little boy intent on conquering the world, and absolutely certain he can.
I am still unprepared for these brief and unassuming moments when he is my baby boy again. A boy who needs my arms to hold him. Who still wants me to hold him. Joy grips my heart.
We breathe together for a couple of minutes. The morning is quiet. He squirms a little.
And then he is up. Fully awake now, looking around and trying to decide what he wants to do. “Me hungry,” he loudly declares. “Mommy, me eat cereal. Help me eat cereal. Milk, me drink milk. Yeah, me drink milk. Pleeeeeaaaase…..”
My brain slowly registers this barrage of words and sadly accepts that no more sleep will be had. I watch him scoot off the bed and run to the kitchen.
I still feel the lingering warmth from our brief cuddle. It is even more sweet after I’ve let go.
My son loves me. That is all I needed to know.