Posts Tagged ‘ raising a boy ’

The Compartmentalization Of A Little Boy’s Brain

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

I am told on a weekly basis, by family members, by friends, by co-workers, and readers, that I am a very “black-and-white, cut-and-dry” person; that there is no gray with me.

It’s as if I put every situation and event in it’s own compartment in my brain; as if history always repeats itself.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’m a vegan. All or nothing, right?

Maybe that’s why I make a living by discovering performance formulas for my company to help them become more efficient.

I look at what does work, separate it from what doesn’t work, then check for reoccurring patterns.

Sure, I realize the world isn’t categorized in perfectly organized compartments, but I work to help make it that way as much as possible.

Son, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be a lot like me in those regards. In fact, I’m pretty sure you already are that way.

Sunday afternoon as Mommy was preparing dinner, you got upset because she wasn’t able to play trains with you like I was. After about 90 seconds of a breakdown because you couldn’t stand to be playing without her though she was only 10 feet away, I had to take action.

You and I went upstairs to play. You had to be moved out of the compartment of “Mommy, play with me!” to “Me and Daddy are playing like boys!”

By the time we stepped into your room, you were fine with Mommy being downstairs… in a “different compartment.”

The base of our papasan rocking chair broke, only leaving the dome-shaped seat part intact.

As I spun you around and quickly swayed you, it magically became a yellow submarine, a monster truck, and a horsey.

Together, you and I were loud, rough, and technically violent in our Daddy-son compartment.

You stripped yourself down to your pro-wrestler/superhero attire, which is a diaper and nothing else.

But once Mommy entered the room, you became a different little boy; a little boy who wanted to read and wear clothes, not play.

I’ve also noticed that everyday when I drop you off at school, you get quiet the moment I hand you over to your teacher, not speaking or showing emotion again until after I’m out of sight.

Different compartments.

Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m drawing too many conclusions; because after all, I’ve already established that I look for patterns and formulas in everything.

Maybe little girls can just as easily be the same way. I wouldn’t know about that; no history to build on since you don’t have a sister.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

 

 

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Risk Management: Being My Kid’s Bodyguard

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

20 months.

Anytime I’ve ever heard another parent say “I just let him out of my sight for one second…” it never turns out to be a delightful story.

So as to prevent myself from ever saying that phrase, it’s simple:

I never let my son out of my sight for one second.

Obviously, he goes to daycare during the day and he sleeps in his own bedroom at night.

But what I mean is that as long as he and I are in the same room or as long as he’s with me out in public, I am the kid’s bodyguard.

I believe that all of us as human beings were born with a nature that causes us to want to, by default, make destructive decisions.

No parent ever has to teach their child to lie or to be disobedient.

While we also have a nature that causes us to want to be good and help others, we still are often driven towards destruction in our thoughts which lead to actions.

Likewise, I know my son will run straight for the cars in the street or into the crowd at the store unless I physically restrain him from doing so.

My verbal warnings aren’t yet enough for my toddler son.

He is all but handcuffed to me because at this point, I can’t trust him to keep himself from hurting himself.

Not to mention that as a father of a son, I’m acutely aware of the fact that a boy’s chance of surviving to adulthood is a lot less than a girl’s.

Mark J. Penn, in his book, Microtrends, explains it this way, in regards to statistics done here in America:

“There are about 90,000 more boys born every year than girls, setting up a favorable dating ratio. But by the time those kids turn 18, the sex ratio has shifted a full point the other way to 51 to 49, because more boys die in puberty than girls. Researchers call it a “testosterone storm,” which causes more deaths among boys from car accidents, homicides, suicides, and drownings.”

I don’t mean to be morbid or grandiose, but I think about that. I should.

Whenever I’m with my son, even in a seemingly safe environment, in my head I have to constantly be thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen right now?

Simple risk management.

Because sure enough, the moment I don’t ask myself that would be the day I would find out.

I’m not sure if I really am an overprotective dad or not.

After seeing these pictures of how I let my son play with big wooden stick, I bet some readers out there are actually thinking the opposite about me.

But that’s part of the paradox:

I’m his dad. I’m supposed to encourage his adventurous spirit. And I really like that part of my job as a dad.

Hey, I want to have fun too.

As long as it’s not too much fun.

(Kids, don’t try this at home. Unless your dad is there watching you through the camera as he encourages your adventurous spirit.)

 

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Boys Should Be Boys: Raising a Bambino

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Six months.

Do you raise a boy baby differently because he is a boy instead of a girl?  Should you treat him any differently because of his gender?  The obvious, implied, correct answer is “yes.”

As if this wasn’t already established, I’ll just go ahead and put this out there: I can be a bit funny about stuff sometimes. And I don’t mean “ha ha” funny.  I mean “peculiar.”  I’m just set in my quirky ways, leaving others to deal with the flashes of absurdity.

bambino

That being said, I’m realizing already how particular I am with how I raise Jack.  I know he’s only 6 months old and it’s basically irrelevant now to even think about these things, but it’s important to me that he is seen as a boy, not simply a baby. For example, Jack doesn’t use a “passy”; he uses a pacifier. “Passy” sounds way to much like “prissy.”

And when he gets a little older, he won’t be drinking from a “sippy cup,” which to me sounds like “sissy cup.”  Instead, he will be drinking from what I cleverly named his “bambino cup.”  (“Bambino” is Italian for “little boy.”)

I don’t like words that sound like they should be referring to what a cute little girl would say.   Yes, Jack is a baby, and he’s not yet a little boy- but he is a boy baby. It matters to me that he is treated appropriately masculine even in his first several months of life.

That being said, I should go ahead and point out some irony.  With a new cousin on the way (my sister is pregnant with a little girl, due July 2nd), when we take Jack to my sister and her husband’s house, he gets to try out some of his cousin’s toys before she gets here.  I have no problem whatsoever with Jack playing on an all pink play pad with a pink bird that plays a sort of girly song when he pulls it. Why not? Because it’s so obvious that he’s “messing around” with a girl’s toy.  It’s funny and ironic and something to joke about.

I carry Jack around with necessary caution, but I’m not too delicate with him.  He is an adventurous boy.  Sometimes as he’s rolling around on the floor he slightly bumps the back of his head down on the carpet rug, loud enough to make a [thud!] sound.  When he even notices that he’s “supposed” to be hurt, he gets over it in about two seconds.  Especially when he checks our facial expressions to get confirmation that he really he is okay.  Then it’s back to rolling around.

Jack will have manners when he gets older; he will say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.”  He will be respectful and well-behaved to both adults and his peers.  I will make sure of it. He will be a Southern gentleman.  And even so, he will get into some (innocent) trouble.

He will break a window with a baseball.  He will stay out too long playing out in the woods and worry me that he’s not home yet.  He will step out to the line of danger but will be smart enough not to cross it.

There’s nothing wrong with letting a boy be a boy.  And that’s coming from a former little boy who broke a window and stayed out past dinner time because I was having fun playing in the woods.  But I also knew how to behave in public.  So if there’s anything delicate about being a boy, it’s the crucial balance of being “rough and tumble” along with knowing when to say “please”and “thank you.”

Granted, it’s all about raising a well-balanced son.  Being involved in music and art are just as important as being a boy scout and playing sports.  Any of those activities he wants to do and he enjoys, I will encourage him- whether he’s artistic, athletic, or equally both.  As for me, I was never an athlete (or a good one, at least) and it ultimately led me to have an interest in writing- which is why you are reading this today.

Unnecessary Bonus:

All this testosterone in the air is causing me to consider renaming my blog.  I could just see it now…

Randy Savage Italian Jewish

Artwork courtesy of Jeremy Schultz.

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