June 5, 2014
I have an inquisitive four-year-old. He wants to learn about everything. I mean everything. In full detail. Then, he wants to pretend to be whatever it is that he learned about.
Last week it was chimpanzees. For a week he was outside cracking nuts with rocks on a log.
One day, he even refused to eat anything a chimpanzee wouldn’t eat. Because he would “only pretend” to eat the bugs, by dinner time he was so famished he ate an entire steak. I guess nuts and berries weren’t quite enough for this growing boy.
Today, I was outside trimming trees and cutting back our overgrown bushes. As I stood inside our small dogwood tree, I told him I felt like a bird.
“That’s because we are birds” he said.
“We are?” I asked, “I thought we were chimpanzees.”
“Today we are birds and we have to build a nest up really high to protect us from predators” he explained.
For the next half hour he ran around cawing like a crow, yelling “Predator! Predator!”
I didn’t think much about it until he pointed to a van driving around our cul-de-sac with their window down. “Predator!” he screamed, pointing at them. I went with it. I didn’t know who they were. Nothing wrong with a little stranger danger.
After he tired of running around, he really wanted to make a nest. I told him that birds fly around and collect things like twigs, grass, and dirt to make their nests. He looked at all the trimmings on the ground from the trees I’d been cutting and asked him he could use them. Of course I told him he could.
“We are a whole family of birds.” he told me as he began to build his nest on the ground next to me. “You can be the Mama bird.”
“I like being the Mama. That’s a good idea.” I replied.
“And then you can lay the eggs and sit on them.” he continued.
“Well, what if I don’t want to sit on them?” I asked.
“You have to. Daddy doesn’t want to do it. And I don’t want to do it.” he explained. I felt like this was all the sudden becoming a gender stereotype and I didn’t like where it was heading. I wanted him to think of mothers within many roles.
“That’s not fair. I have to sit on eggs all day while you and Daddy get to go out and do fun things?” I got a little defensive.
“It is fair.” he said, matter-of-factly.
“How do you suppose?” I asked for clarification.
He looked at me, as if I were crazy and said, “Because it’s the most important job. You have to make sure the baby is safe if a predator comes.”
And with that, he defined “motherhood” in it’s purest form. My son either has a future in politics (because he knows what people want to hear) or he has a greater understanding of the world than most adults. This kid amazes me.
May 14, 2014
When I was pregnant with my oldest and found out I was having a boy, I was terrified. I was just about as girly as you could get. I had no idea what to do with a boy. That was four-and-a-half years ago.
As I was outside with my both of my boys this morning, working in the garden, I had to wonder if I would even have a garden had I had a girl first. As sexist as it is, the only reason I started gardening was to make sure I didn’t pass my “girly” behaviors of running away from bugs onto my son. Had he been a girl, I wouldn’t have even thought about making her comfortable with bugs.
When I started my garden three years ago, I had to fight my inner demons to be out there, covered in dirt. Today, it energizes me to get my hands dirty, make the yard beautiful, and provide food for my family. It amazes me how much I have changed over the past few years all because I was given a boy and the opportunity to grow.
Maybe every parent grows exponentially with each and every child. I don’t know. I only know my own experiences. This boy opens my eyes to so much in life and makes me a better person every day. Today, as I pulled weeds and daydreamed about how great it would be to have software that could record our thoughts so the good ideas could always be recollected, he found a small hole in our fence, which backs up to a greenbelt. He decided it would be the perfect way to feed all the animals in the forest. He sat there for hours putting scraps of weeds and grass through that little hole.
He eventually tired of it and came to me and told me about his animals in his zoo. I asked where their cages were. With eyes full of wisdom, he looked at me and said, “Look around, Mommy. We are the only ones in the cage.”
And with that, I grew a little bit more.
Just to be clear, my younger son makes me grow too. With him, I grow more aware of cleaning up after myself and locking everything behind me, lest he ingest it and have to be rushed to the hospital.