Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Making boys be boys

A few months ago, we attended a county fair with a family we met through our mothers of multiples group.  This family also has boy / girl twins, and they're exactly one month younger than our kids.  We socialize with them about once every 2-3 months, and the kids have a great time together.  On this particular day, when it came time to say goodbye, their little girl gave both our kids a little hug and kiss.  Their little boy tried to do the same, approaching our son first.  His mother immediately yanked him back.  "Caden!*  You're a boy, you high-five!" she shrieked.  Her not-yet-two-year-old just stood there looking bewildered.  And my heart broke just a little bit. 

My son is, without a doubt the most affectionate human being I have ever encountered.  He asks to be picked up because he just wants to plant kiss after kiss on your cheek.  He loves to hug his sister.  He even hugs and kisses his dogs.  When we brought the kids to Sesame Place, we had to pry him away from Oscar because he had nuzzled so deeply into the crook of the cranky muppet's neck.  I know he won't be like this forever, and I can't imagine trying to squash it out of him.  It makes me so sad to know that Caden has that sweetness in him too, yet his parents are training him to be like his father and have the emotional range of a paper clip. 

Today, I went to a Thanksgiving potluck at my kids daycare.  There were two other moms there who know each other socially.  They were encouraging their sons to fight each other on the playroom floor.  They caught the moment on their cell phone cameras as they shouted things like "pin him, tackle him, get him in a headlock".  The more aggressive the boys became, the more the mothers cheered them on.  My own son sat in my lap and watched, and showed no interest in joining in.  As soon as the other moms left the room, the two boys actually ran around holding hands.  I wonder what the mothers would  have to say to that. 

I am sure that many people out there think I am doing my son a disservice.  That I am not preparing him for the real world.  That he'll be in for a big shock when he gets older and realizes that hugging his friends isn't allowed.  That he won't be rough and tumble aggressive enough to be friends with the other boys.  Maybe they're right.  I'm not trying to say that one way of raising a boy is better than the other. Still, it makes me sad to see boys being pushed to behave a certain way.

*This name, like all names of this blog, has been changed in order to protect anonymity