First of all, I fully recognize and respect the right of every boy to play with dolls and every girl to play with sticks. But there are stereotypes of what girls like and what boys like and when it comes to those stereotypes, I’m pretty girlie. With a few exceptions (scotch, neat) I lean toward the things that fall on the pink side of the line. I know every word in every song from the Sound of Music, I like to bake, I have more shoes than are in any way necessary, and I kept my sewing machine with me even when I lived in a 200-square-foot apartment.
So it has come as something of a shock to me to be the mother of a boy. I’m not playing dress up and making fairy wings. Far from it. Instead, I’m turning over rocks to look for bugs, picking up worms (even when they seem to be leaking), admiring captured grasshoppers, and discussing/dissecting the slop that comes out of pumpkins. I play with trucks. I can name a dinosaur for every letter in the alphabet. I’ve spent entire afternoons watching construction. And don’t even get me started on the sports. I drove six hours last year to go to a basketball game and spent two hours playing soccer last weekend.
Having only been the mother of a boy, I can’t say how much of this would be true with a girl, too — I assume it depends on the girl. I can think of at least a few sweet things in pretty dresses who are as muddy as John at the end of the day. But I’m finding that having a boy, at least as I see it, is coloring my outlook in new ways.
Once, for a college internship, I had to write an article on pneumatic tubing. By the end, I was actually interested in pneumatic tubing — which is really saying something. Since then, I’ve had a theory that anything is interesting if you pay close enough attention. My theory is holding true for all this boy stuff. I was actually thrilled the last time we went to the “dino museum” and I got to see a parasaurolophus fossil. Construction is completely fascinating and even artistic if you really stop to watch. And I’ve already written about my love for the Middlebury College basketball team.
I’m very glad to join John in exploring, and I know I might not have had the motivation to in any other way. But to be honest, I could do without the squirmy, slimy stuff. And I’m not giving up on the pink side of things either, by the way. I’ve taught John songs about eating worms and marinated monkey feet, but he also knows the lyrics to “Wouldn’t it be Lovely” from My Fair Lady. And his T. Rex may be the only one in town to have a house with pictures on the walls and its own flannel blanket.