I normally pick up and walk Alex home from school. Today was like any other, walking back to the car with me, hand in hand whilst he selectively describes to me the events of his day and whether he’s had a good day or a bad day.
His friend Katie ran past, trying to catch up with her grandmother, yelling out “Hi Alex” and giving him an energetic wave as she sped to her awaiting carer. It was then that he stopped where he was, turned to me and said,
“Daddy, I like girls better than boys. Most boys are mean.”
And I knew this day would come for him. For me, it came at 33; for him, 6. And I am one damn proud father to say the least. Because this tells me that already he’s accepting himself, and being a true form of himself.
I was never one for the boyous tumble as a lad, picking fights with my friends and getting knocked about. Truth be told, I hated it. But back in my day, you had to put up or shut up. You weren’t allowed to be yourself if you enjoyed the softer things in life.
If I didn’t get in fights, climb trees or, “insert crazy boy stuff here,” then you were a girly boy, you were laughed at and pointed out. Kids would bully you, or worse. For me, I had to learn things that other boys did even if I didn’t want to, or risk being ostracized from my group of friends. I was in no end of fights as a kid because of my softer nature.
Alex is the same. He doesn’t like roughness, he’s super gentle. He likes play but only if he can tentatively try it out at first, not wanting to risk a fall of any sort. He’s cautious, and happy, and gentle, and definitely not boisterous.
When Alex said that to me, I turned to him and said, “Why do you say that Alex? Has anything happened at school? Is anyone being mean to you?” And his reply was, “No Daddy, only that a lot of boys are mean and fight and do naughty stuff.”
“My son, bold as brass, turns round on our way home and tells me something I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with since I was his age.”
Whilst I tried to explain that boys weren’t being naughty, they were just being themselves, and that is fine, it isn’t naughty, I was also trying to explain that if he doesn’t like that behavior, then that’s perfectly acceptable too. I was so so proud of my little man coming to this conclusion on his own. It took me 33 years and a lot of help to realise that I strive in the presence of women. You see, as a young boy I was told that being friends with, or your circle predominantly being around women you were laughed at, it definitely wasn’t seen as a positive thing. And well, I wanted to conform and be cool and be in the “in crowd.” The result? Well, 20 years of not being myself is what. Twenty years of denying my emotions and conflicting my personality. I don’t want that for Alex.
Now I’m definitely not saying boys are mean, or bad, or anything like that. Because all of the boys in Alex’s class are really good kids, he even visits a young boy periodically for an evening, so it’s not all bad. And that being said, I still have really close guy friends too. I still really love the connection with my guy friends that I have. Guys are great, so I’m not wanting to create any negative picture.
With me, though, I’ve recently found out that I get on far better with women, our thoughts align, we like the same things, and we nurture. I’m at base form a nurturer, I nurture relationships on every level. I can barely see the bad in anything, or at least I try to understand it before I judge; I think Alex will be the same too.
It just impressed me, that I’ve been struggling with my identity for most of my life, and my son, bold as brass, turns round on our way home and tells me something I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with since I was his age. And I will be nurturing that, oh yes. If there’s one thing that I care deeply about it’s my son’s sense of self. Because I never had that, and there was always obstacles in my way. I’ll be removing them myself for him! Well, until he’s old enough to remove them for himself.
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