Did you know yogurt makes great finger paint on windows?
Did you know it’s great fun to let gulps of water dribble down your chin?
Did you know family is just another word for audience?
Did you know it’s vastly entertaining to make a girl scream?
Did you know it’s impossible to feel at home until farm animals are scattered all over the living room floor?
Did you know chairs are actually made for climbing? And hair for pulling? And toys for throwing?
I didn’t know all this, not in a way that counts, until him.
You know, the one who moves so fast he’s usually the blur on the photo.
Mothers have been observing their sons since Eve pushed Cain into the world, but it feels as fresh to me as if my son were the world’s firstborn.
He amazes me. He is hardwired to become a man, but I get to nurture him in these days when he isn’t afraid to cry and hasn’t yet mastered the art of disappearing behind a hunting magazine.
I am the softness that teaches him to protect, the tenderness that helps him to be strong.
The way I treat his father illustrates to him what a man can expect from a woman.
He loves me, needs me, but when he hangs out with his daddy, they are card-carrying members of The Guy Club—and I can only stand on my tiptoes and peer in the window. Until the play gets too rough. Then I go find something else to do to prevent my tender female sensibilities from interfering.
I intuitively understand my daughters (most of the time), but my son? I admit he’s something of a mystery. A fascinating, adorable, lovable one, to be sure, but there’s that elusive tang of maleness in him that is quite beyond me.
James Thurber said it best: “Boys are perhaps beyond the range of anybody’s sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of eighteen months and ninety years.”
How does he know this stuff, this guy stuff? He throws stuff, he climbs stuff, he demolishes stuff. He’s not yet two, but he has the birthright of a man.
My little man.
Excuse me while I go give him another kiss. I’m stockpiling them on his dimpled cheeks for the inevitable day when he says “Mom! Yuck!”
* * *
Since I have you here, I’d like to ask you a question I’ve been wondering for a long time. I have heard talk about the specialness of a father-daughter or mother-son relationship. Is it just talk, or is it true?
Is a mother’s relationship with a son different from the one she shares with a daughter? If so, how?
And like all relationships, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to go about it. What are some pitfalls to avoid? For instance, how do you nurture your son without smothering him?
Even if you have more ideals than experience, I’d love to hear your thoughts.