They say there is no book on parenting, although volumes have been written on the subject. Raising a useful, well-functioning human being takes a lot of trial and error, luck and – at times – copious amounts of vodka. Or you could pray. I guess whichever works best in your world.
I’ve never read a parenting book, and doubt I ever well. Those authors have neither met me, not my children. They don’t know that Liya poops on herself at precisely 7:43 every evening, and that because I’m so wrapped up in getting ready to watch The O’Reilly Factor that I forget to set her on the toilet…every night. They don’t know that Aya’s delight is to undo the twists that I’ve painstakingly placed in her hair so that she can look decent for school the next day. Why would she do that? So she could have bangs. She has a 10 inch afro. Can these parenting gurus help me explain why she cannot fashion bangs out of a near foot long length of hair when 3 chapters earlier they have asserted that I tell my child she can do anything? What a contradiction.
Nadjah thinks she’s America’s Next Top Model/Marie Curie, so the less I tamper with her, the better.
And then there’s Stone: my sweet, beautiful Stone and only male offspring. I could only hope that someone would jot down some advice to help me sort this boy out.
I like to think that Stone is similar to other boys his age, except that when I place him in circles with other boys his age he goes out of his way to prove how very much unlike them he is. For instance, when he sees his friend Gary at daycare, he squeals with delight and runs over to him with his arms outstretched.
“Gimme HUG, Gary!” he gushes.
Gary, who most likely spends a lot of time with his dad or some other emotionally withdrawn figure, recoils at the thought of giving another boy a hug. I watched as Gary fled to the block center.
Dap, Stone. You’re supposed to give him DAP.
But how could he know this? I only give my son hugs and cuddles and kisses.
There are times when I walk in on my son doing things that give me pause. After the horror gives way to confusion, I generally to try escape the scene altogether by busying myself with dishes and dusting. I’ll explain.
Stone likes to watch Barbie cartoons. This should not surprise you, because he has 3 sisters. He either has to develop a taste for their preferences or live a life of disgruntlement and anger. He chose to do the former. I left him to his newfound pleasure one afternoon. Barbie had transformed into a mermaid and was trying to save a prince. Clad only in a pair of underwear and socks, Stone was reclined on the sofa, watching intently. His eyes never left the screen. Suddenly, I heard Liya snicker in infantile disgust.
“Ewww!” she giggled. In the midst of her jumbled words, I made out the word “hoo-hoo”.
Why was she pointing at her brother’s crotch? Because his little dangle had crept though the divide of his character underwear. Not wanting to leave it unattended, he began to tug at its head. The more Liya laughed and said “ewww”, the harder he tugged and laughed as well. When he was done, he had the nerve to ask me for a waffle.
“Did you tell him to stop that?” my husband asked when I relayed the story later.
“No!” I frowned. “I wasn’t sure that I should.”
“You should have told him to stop,” he assured me.
Well how was I supposed to know that? I’m sure there is a chapter in a parenting book about toddler penis-tugging, but I don’t want to read it. That’s just gross.
However sensitive I might feel about “that” subject, other circumstances have arisen that let me know I will have to confront it for the rest of my son’s natural life. If I choose willing ignorance, the consequences could be both dire and dangerous.
The other day I let him slip into his favorite pair zip-up Frosty the Snowman pajamas. This in itself was not a problem. The fact that I let him wear them commando was. As I pulled the zipper past his hips, my Spidey senses AND my Common senses told me this was a bad idea. However, in my dogged attempt at a gender neutral parenting style, I went ahead and set in motion an unavoidable tragedy. When my son shrieked in pain 20 minutes later, it was re-confirmed that girls are safer when going commando: boys are not. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the mechanics of what happened that early afternoon. Yes male readers, I can feel you crossing your legs in empathy.
I have a friend whose son would take off his clothes at a moment’s notice. You’d turn around and he’d be half-naked in church or pantless in his living room. I was appalled by his behavior. Why couldn’t she control that? I used to wonder in disapproval. She wasn’t even TRYING.
And then my own son learned to walk and soon after was disrobing himself at the most inappropriate times as well. See what happens when you judge other parents?
Then there’s the constant running, jumping, pushing, pulling, farting n’ giggling, and insatiable demands for food…
I suppose all in all, I’m doing a decent job at raising my son. He has recently discovered the joy of editing his favorite songs and replacing key words with the word “poop.” For example we get to hear:
Froooosty the poop-poop!
Halle-poop-poop! Salvation and glory!
I’ve got to move the poop-poop! I’ve got to move the poop-poop! I’ve got to mooooove that poop-poop!
The girls hate it. But I know when a man makes good and ready use of toilet humor, he is partaking in an ancient, time-honored tradition that will one day bind him to equally gross teenaged boys and men in true friendship.
Do you have unique concerns about raising your son? Is there anything you’re read or been told that has helped you? Does your son sing songs about poop too?