Raising Boys

As Boo gets older, I'm definitely realizing the full responsibilities of raising a son in today's society. There is pretend play and there is what some people perceive to be violent play; there is teaching sensitivity to the world and its inhabitants while also teaching caution, strength and self-protection; there is teaching safety and kindness and also learning to let go and allow for self-teachings of these principles.

If you haven't figured this out already from any of my previous posts, I am immensely in love with my son. Mothers of sons get this - it is such an intense feeling of love, protection and responsibility as a woman to raise a "good" son. My son, I know, is also in love with me. I definitely get more of the hugs, the snuggles, the kisses, and the kinder, gentler play than daddy does.

As I see his personality emerging, I am questioning every other value that I have as a person because I know more than ever, it will affect his view on the world and help him shape his own values. I fear I am giving in to societal conditioning if we buy him too many trucks and trains, and I am already dreading the later years - "which sport does your son play?" Well, what if my son doesn't want to play a sport? "Why is your son wearing pink?" Well then, what if pink is his favorite color? His father and I have no problem letting him be who he is and letting him discover himself in safe ways, but we realize not all of this society is so accepting. He's just a boy, and I don't think boys can become men until they are truly comfortable with themselves.

Right now, he's just all kid, with a nice mix of soft and rough in him. The hitting, the throwing, the banging and the loud play are also tempered so nicely by long afternoons appreciating nature; he loves trees (hooray!) and flowers, appreciates the beauty of individual rocks and blades of grass. Yesterday he was mesmorized by a sea of small purple flowers and he picked one, and wanted to give it to his daddy. So we placed it in a glass with water ("flower drink!" as Boo says), and set it on the table for his papa to find when he got home while we were at his music class.

Music...Boo is still completely in love with all things musical - dancing, singing, rythm of any kind, clapping, making instruments. We spend about 90% of our time at home singing and dancing. He orders us around like a little drill sargeant "Dance, mommy!" or "Clap, daddy!" I hope he never loses this connection with the beauty of music. I am also realizing that some of the banging he does really is music to him (although sometimes it is just "I'm so mad at you train, I'm going to hit you hard on the table!"...ugh)

Poetry...Boo is in love with words, the rythm of certain verses, the music he hears them make in his ears as we read them out loud together. We spend at least a full hour every day reading books, poetry, anything (he likes me to read from the grammar book in my office sometimes!). I can see the stories spark imagination in his head, and I hope he will always have an imaginative spark in him.

Tenderness...Boo exhibits extreme tenderness with those he loves, in both human form, animal form and character form. He feeds his stuffed animals and plastic toy animals, tucks them gently into bed, dances with them, and shows them great things he's found ("see the pretty flower, zebra?").

Yes, he loves trucks and trains and cars. He loves to bang things and make loud noises. I love seeing this mix of soft and rough with him. I know as he gets older, he'll find out all too well what this society sees as masculine and feminine, but I hope that we as his parents can help instill values of self-worth, strength and confidence in himself to be who he is and to ignore those labels. I realize now that we are really just his guide, showing him things along the way, but the path he takes in the end is all his own - we want him to walk it with pride and happiness.



Some days I think I rock at being able to catch Boo before a tantrum starts, talk him down from one, stop him from throwing his trucks and getting him to understand why he shouldn't hit me when he's mad because I tell him he can't do something. Those days are few and far between. Most of the time, I'm just guessing and choosing how to react to his strong and stubborn toddler ways. A lot of the time, I have the distinct feeling that I've lost the battle, and my wiser-than-his-years son has once again outwitted this novice mama.

But something has happened the past two days that has amused and bewildered my husband and I. Now when Boo gets ready to throw something, he tells himself in a stern voice: "No throwing!" Granted, he will usually say this as the object is being hurled from his hand, but increasingly he seems to be doing this to remind him that throwing is not ok, and when I wait for the hurled object to hit me in the head, none arrives. He also says "no banging" when he wants to bang his trucks or trains, and "no kicking" when he wants to kick the seat. Hmm. Maybe he is self-disciplining after all. Maybe he does listen to what his dad and I tell him, and maybe, just maybe, the meaning behind the words are starting to sink in.

Or maybe he's just mocking us, which he tends to do from time to time, and doesn't really get it yet. He is, after all, two, and is just fascinated to find out what happens when he does throw or bang his trucks over and over and over. He's learning, and I get that - I just wish it were a little softer way of learning sometimes. (Gender note: how come none of the girls his age seem to be in the throwing/hitting/banging phase but all of the boys are?). Either way, he's starting to get better about throwing, hitting, banging in general. He's still super sweet and cuddly - this past weekend was all about the hugs and kisses to mama and papa - but he's also 100% physical when he plays, something that can be both endearing and also mind-numbing.


10 years ago...

...my husband and I graduated from the same college. We had an awesome time in college. Many of our college friends have moved out here, and are some of the people that I cherish the most in the whole world. Our college reunion was earlier this month, and I just got sent a batch of online photos. Some of the photos take me back, mainly the photos of Boston, which make me miss the city so very much. Some of the photos make me wonder if I actually graduated in a different year...who the hell are those people in the photos? Some of them, sadly, make me feel better (as in, "phew! I'm not the only one who gained some weight since college!" - terrible thought, isn't it? but there it is, in my head). But all of them bring back the feelings, the scents, the memories of college. It is where my husband and I met, where I faced a lot of my own insecurities and my undeniable faults - my demons, so to speak - and where I believe I truly learned to love, live and laugh the way I had always wanted to. College is where I learned to become the person I wanted to be, and where I met the people that would accept the parts of me that I maybe didn't like so much.

I can't believe 10 years have gone by. Look at how much can happen and how much one can both stay the same and change. It went by so fast. I am truly fearful and saddened at the fact that I know the next 10 years will fly by even faster now with Boo in our lives. The last two alone have whizzed by super crazy fast!

The photos also made me stop and think about where my fellow grads are now in their lives, and where I am in mine. Am I where I should be at this point? I know that I am happy where I am at this point. Have I accomplished all that I wanted to by now? Well, no, since I don't have my MBA and I don't speak five languages fluently (what the hell was I thinking when I added that to my list?). But plans change and I no longer want an MBA. Are my fellow grads happy where they are in life? It's too much pressure, this whole one life thing - how are we supposed to pack in everything we want to do in one life? Sucky ducky. I guess I'll just keep plugging along and just doing what makes me and my family happy.

On a completely superficial note, the photos also made me (selfishly) wonder: good god, have I aged that much too? I know that the answer is yes, because 10 years did pass, I did have a child, and I have been working like a crazy women with little sleep for the past 10 years - can't expect all of that to keep me looking 22, can I? I never really think about aging, but suddenly these photos... ay carumba, I feel like an old married woman, because I know that's just what I look like in photos. Ack.

I'm not too sad that we missed the reunion. Their new tv studios look awesome, but I miss the brownstones that housed our old dorms and classrooms. Henry Winkler (graduated from the same college, along with a bunch of other funny famous men like Jay Leno and Dennis Leary, but not too many super famous women...hmmm) was there and some of my fellow grads got their picture taken with him. Not sure that would have made the trip worth it for us. But it's nice to see the photos and remember that time. 10 years. Damn, it goes by too fast.


Freakin' hilarious

I am totally in love with my son. He is the funniest person on the face of the earth and I wish someone would just pay me to watch his silly antics all day long. There's a fun job I could live with forever.

This week, he's all about responding to our "thank you"s with an emphatic, wide-eyed, head bobbing "NO! Thank YOOOOUUU!!!" Sometimes, he will say thank you to us for something we did for him and respond to himself with an immediate "No! Thank you!"

When I tell him I love him, he says without skipping a beat: "I know."

When he let out an adorable and quite audible little fart while he was playing behind the couch, he popped his little head up, looked at us, smiled with big eyes and said "Ethan toooot!" Then immediately popped his head back down and commenced playing.


Emotional attachments

Boo misses his old classroom and his former teachers. I think he's adjusting pretty well to his new classroom, and some of his friends from his old one are there now that they are older too, but it's still difficult. We've learned that he tends to act out more during these transitional times, and that behavior only lasted a couple of days this time. He's also eating and napping in his new classroom, which was a challenge when he first started at the school. He's playing and chatting it up already. So, there is progress, but still... watching him stop in front of his old classroom door on our way home is just super sad. My heart goes out to him as he peeks in - perhaps to catch a glimpse of his friends that are still in there, perhaps to see his old teachers, perhaps just to see the classroom itself and the familiar posters and pictures on the wall. He knows that is no longer that classroom, but he remembers how much he loved it. He still feels the emotional attachments to the place and the people there. He leans against the door and looks into window briefly in silence before taking my hand and walking out.

It makes me sad to think that he feels sadness and a sense of loss at such a young age, but I also know that this is the first of just many times in his life that he will have to say goodbye and transition to a new place with new people. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all just have everyone we love around us all the time? No long distance phone calls, no once a year visits... no saying goodbye. Ever. My heart goes out to him in part because it makes me sad too. I hate that we have to say goodbye to the teachers we love so much and get to know the new ones, whom we will just have to say goodbye to eventually as well. I am easily emotionally attached to the people that enter my life - the ones who stay for decades or even the ones who just flitter in for ten minutes- and I really do wish we could keep the people in our lives actually in our lives forever.

Alas, that's not the way the world turns, and my little Boo is being very brave and so very awesome during this transition. He's stronger than me already, and I'm so proud of him.


A Woman President?

We're heading into campaign season for the 2008 elections, and as a woman and a mother, I am deeply distraught. In 2004, I bought the domain names www.momsforhillary.com and www.momsforhillary.org. I thought that she was going to be the best candidate to get the family agenda out there, and as much as her campaign may have protested, of course she is running. Now it's obvious: the Friends for Hillary campaign has contacted me wanting to purchase both domain names. Over the past year, I've watched her, and I've been disappointed almost to the point of disgust. I no longer think she has a chance, and more than that, I no longer believe she will bring anything to the table to help moms, esp. working moms, families in need, healthcare, education, addressing the deficit - or any other hot topics that I believe will shape this next election. Forget race, forget economics - I believe the group that will have the greatest affect on this election is the mom-vote. We're the ones who want a better future for our families. Is Hillary the one who is going to lead us to a better future? I no longer think so.

Yesterday the Friends for Hillary campaign's first offer was absolutely ridiculous, and their second offer not much better. I know what the domain names are worth, and the campaign is nowhere even close to being near the ballpark. But you know what? I'll take it, because now I really am disgusted with the Hillary Clinton campaign. They think that just because I'm some little mom in Oregon that I can be taken for granted and it just emphasizes how she doesn't care about the little folks like you and me out here.

So what is your take on Hillary? Would you vote for her? Do you think we'll ever see a woman president in our lifetime? Can't Oprah just run already? :)

UPDATE: Instead of writing a new post on this, I'll just keep adding to the comments in the comments section.