Bringing Up Boys
When I adopted Gus, I knew that I was in for a few unique challenges as a single mother raising a son. You see, I don’t know squat about raising little boys. I have two wonderful nephews. They taught me that boys are loving and affectionate – usually right after you find yourself flat on your back following a full body tackle! Beyond that, I know nothing.
The innate differences between boys and girls were obvious to me, even from the beginning. I mentioned them once to my doctor, who tried to convince me that those differences are there only because we as parents and society project them onto our children. I beg to differ.
Since Gus and Mia are so close in age, they really don’t know the difference between “boy toys” and “girl toys.” They both play with both kinds. Mia takes a baby doll and cuddles it and feeds it. Gus takes it and uses its head as a hammer. Mia takes the toy cars and lines them up into neat little rows. Gus creates multi-car collisions. Mia puts sand and rocks in a bucket and “cooks supper.” Gus takes his bucket of sand and rocks down the driveway to see how far he can sling it. Mia sees the handyman fixing the light, asks who ‘dat boy’ is, and soon loses interest. Gus sees the handyman and stands transfixed for as long as it takes for the job to be completed. I could go on and on, but you probably get the picture by now. I find myself amused by the differences. Fascinated by them even. There are a few things I had not anticipated, however.
Like teaching a boy how to pee standing up. Good grief! I don’t know about these things! Gus started potty training by sitting down. I assumed that was the way since the training potty came with a little pee shield for boys. When he graduated to the big toilet, he still sat down. After all, he’s still pretty short and we didn’t have any kind of stool in our tiny, closet-sized bathroom. It seemed to me to be working just fine. Fine, that is, until the day one of the preschool teachers told me that some of the boys in the class had seen Gus sitting down to pee and wanted to know why he didn’t stand up. Oops! I set him up early for ribbing from classmates. Sorry son! And so we’ve been working on peeing standing up. We’ve muddled through it and he’s starting to get the hang of it. I think. Then again, what do I know about such things?!
I thought I had the worst of the single mother of a son blues whipped for awhile when I overheard the two of them playing this weekend. Gus was playing the caretaker and Mia went back and forth between being the child and being the dog. (Yes, my daughter likes to pretend to be a dog. Her dog name is Sparky.) I kept hearing Mia call her brother “Mama.” And he kept answering to it. Well, it makes sense! After all, who is the one in charge (so to speak) at our house? Mama is. So if he is pretending to be in charge, who is he pretending to be? Mama, of course!
Fearful that I was setting him up for more ribbing from the preschool boys, I sat them down and explained that Gus would be a daddy because he was a boy, not a mama. Neither one like it much at first, but Mia gave it a shot. “Daddy!” she called. He disgustedly replied, “Aw, I’m Gus now.”
Oh, and one more note. We’ve been brought up believing that boys are told that they can do more things than girls. I’ve noticed that the opposite seems to be true for us up to this point. So far we’ve determined that boys can’t paint their fingernails pink, they can’t wear make-up, and they can’t be mamas. The only thing that Mia has been told she can’t do is pee standing up!