Dining Out

Last night my parents took us out to a very nice restaurant for dinner. Going out to a fast food joint with the boys makes me anxious. So as much as I was looking forward to a really delicious meal, I was a wee bit worried (by which I mean my stomach was clenched in fear) about the behavior of the two young men in my life.

Sometimes those boys surprise me. Ok, so Z took C for a quick walk outside before the meal came, and Z and I tag teamed the two mid-meal trips to the bathroom. But other than that it was smooth sailing. Star Wars stickers worked their magic yet again.

Near the end of the meal a friend of my parent’s walked by the table. She has young grandchildren, so she bent down to chat with T. He is a bit of a rambler when he gets going and dude was on a tear. “Do you know what? Well, tomorrow is going to be me and Charlie’s birthday. But, but, but…tomorrow isn’t really me and Charlie’s birthday. But we get our birthday with Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow. And we are, um, we are, uhhh, we are going to have presents. And a cake. I want a….Star Wars Angry Bird cake. And we are getting presents! I want Star Wars legos. I want a Chewbacca figure. I saw it at the Lego store. The Chewbacca figure, well, it has a slot, not a put on head. Like the Gamorrean guard. They are the only two with a slot, not a put on head. But we already have the Gamorrean guard. And I want a big Star Wars Angry Birds play set. A big one.”

This lovely woman was a total sport. She just let him talk and murmured little hmmms and yeses at all the right places.

T paused for a second, took a deep breath, and looked her square in the face.

“I just farted.”

He is totally my child.

T in the pool

Loving the pool with Daddy. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith Photography.

popsicle love at floyd fest

T and Z went to Floyd Fest. First music festival for T.

playing at Floyd fest

He had a really good time.

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Jabba the Hutt and Lessons in Feminism

“Can we talk about Princess Leia?”

“Ok, but just for a sec because then it is time for songs and cuddles.”

T and I were snuggled up and chatting after looking through the most amazing Star Wars Pop Up Book.

“Why does Jabba the Hutt put a chain around her neck?”

“So she can’t escape.”

“But why does he do it?”

“Because he is a really bad and evil and despicable character. He made her into a slave. And that is evil. No person should belong to another person. That has happened for real and it is one of the most terrible things imaginable.”

“But why doesn’t he just put her in the Rancor monster pit like the other guy?”

“Do you want to keep talking about this? We can, but it is late and it will mean no songs tonight. Just talks and cuddles.”

“I want to talk about Leia.”

“Ok.” Deep Breath. “He likes to look at her.  He thinks she is beautiful and wants to keep her around to look at her. But she is just an object to him. What he is doing is bad.”

“What’s an object.”

“A thing. Like that lamp over there. If he treats her like an object he ignores that she is human. Listen, there are men out there who don’t think women can be as smart as them, or the same as them. They don’t think women are equal. This has gone on for a long time. But women fought back. Now women can vote. They can do whatever a man can do. But still, all men don’t believe women are equal and the same as them.”

He was quiet for a moment.

“Listen, T. If you are kind. If you try hard. If you treat girls with the same respect that you treat boys. No matter what I will be proud of you. The girls at your school? Except for the fact that they have vaginas and you have a penis they are exactly the same as you.”

“Ok.”

He was quiet for another moment.

“Why does Jabba the Hutt dress Princess Leia like that?”

“Because he likes to look at her body. He likes her more than just wanting to be her friend. Sometimes a person likes another person more than usual. Kind of like the way that Mommy and Daddy like each other. But what he is doing is wrong. You do not force someone to show you their body no matter how much you like them. That is a choice two people need to make together. And what a person’s body looks like shouldn’t matter. I love you. And I would love you exactly the same no matter what you look like. Because you are my son and I love the sweet person you are becoming.”

“Well. You love me, but you also love the way I look.”

Damn it. Kid isn’t even 5 and he is calling me out. I do love the way he looks. He is freaking adorable. But I see him through the rose colored glasses of a mother’s love. I truly would find him beautiful no matter what.

“Listen, what Jabba the Hutt does to Leia is despicable.”

“What does despicable mean?”

“Evil and terrible. Jabba the Hutt is wrong. We do not treat people like they are less than people. We do not take away their freedom. We do not look at them like objects.”

“Ok.”

“T. I need you to hear this. This is so important. Women are not there for you to look at. They are not there for men to enjoy. They are there for themselves. Do you think I am less than Daddy?”

“No.”

“Daddy is not in charge of me. I am not in charge of Daddy. We are partners and we are equal.”

“I know.”

“This stuff is really important.”

“I know.”

He looks at me.

“Does Jabba the Hutt make Leia dance?”

“Um. I don’t think so.”

“Ok. I’m done. You can go now.”

“We can talk about it more later if you want. Give me a kiss.”

“Ok. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

my boy

He has a good heart. It is our responsibility to nurture that heart and teach him how to be a good man.

photo (40)

Be kind. Try hard. Treat girls with the same respect you treat boys.

I couldn’t be more sincere when I say that is all I want from my sons.

Wednesday

Unplowed roads meant the boys didn’t go to school this morning.

They both have colds.

My throat started hurting by noon.

Walked over a mile in a snowstorm to school.

Classes were cancelled shortly thereafter, but we didn’t know that in our class so we stayed til the end.

I slipped and fell on the way home.

The plow came while I was gone and blocked our driveway so I shoveled it out so Z could pull in.

C had pooped during his nap and taken his diaper off. The sitter did a great job dealing with the mess, way above her pay grade. But I found crusted poop on the floor of his room and he simply smelled like feces.

I cleaned up the shit and gave him a bath.

T gagged on leftovers from two nights ago. Two nights ago when he cleaned his plate and told me I made good food.

This was not a fun day.

So I was really looking forward to the one cadbury creme egg  left on the counter after dinner.

I earned that damn egg.

Also, it would seem that I ate that damn egg yesterday.

Fuck. FUCK. FUUUUUUUCK.

I really wanted that creme egg.

stroll in the snow

After my delightful stroll in the snow.

star wars stickers

The boys playing with Star Wars stickers this morning. T is obviously Spider-Man.

Princess Leia

T, “Mommy? Is Princess Leia your favorite?”

Me with deadly seriousness that should have served as a warning, “Why would Princess Leia be my favorite?”

T blithely unaware that he was inserting a knife into my heart, “Because she’s a girl!” He twisted the knife, “And a princess!”

Jesus fucking christ, where, oh where did I go wrong with this child?

“No. Princess Leia is not my favorite. Listen, dude. I don’t like people because they are girls. That is ridiculous. Just like I hope you don’t like people because they are boys. You would be missing out on so much. I don’t even like princesses. I don’t want to be a princess. Honestly, Leia is really cool. But she isn’t cool because she is a girl. She is cool because she keeps a level head in really tough situations and she doesn’t need anyone to save her, she can save herself. Dude, she kills Jabba the Hutt.”

——————————————–

For several years T’s favorite color has been purple. Suddenly he doesn’t like purple anymore. I asked him why. “Purple is a beautiful color. I don’t like beautiful colors. I like cool colors. Like black.” Yes, black is his new favorite color.

He doesn’t play with the girls in his class. He and his friends tell the girls that they are not allowed to play with them outside.

The gender role shit is coming from our culture fast and furious and there are not enough episodes of Doc McStuffins in the universe to stem the tide.

I’m frustrated and pissed off and really sad. But I’m not going to give up. I am going to question him every time he wants me to be the only girl when he plays Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I am going to push back when he assumes that the token girl in any piece of pop culture is my favorite. I am going to teach him about the Bechdel test. Both Z and I will show him it is fine to show emotion, to cry, to be affectionate. Just like it is fine to be strong and rough and tumble. We will teach him that everyone has all of those qualities inside them. That those qualities are not gender specific.

And we will be loud about it. We will be constant and unrelenting. We will have to be in order to compete with the messages he will get from school, from friends, from advertising and the media and pop culture. We will be fighting to teach him that women don’t need to fight amongst themselves to fill the single role of token female or girlfriend availible in a movie. Forget about in a movie, real life–in a workplace or group of friends. That women can actually take up more than 50% of those roles being they are more than 50% of the population.

I know that his exploration of gender norms is completely normal. I know a lot of people consider it to not be a big deal at all. But you know what? It shouldn’t be normal. It is a big deal to me, and I believe it should be a big deal to everyone. And normal or not it isn’t going to fly in our family.

boy with curl

This fetching curl hung out below his eye during dinner tonight. Man, I would kill for hair like his.

quiet C

C has been having a rough couple of days in the behavior department. This is the calm between the tantrums.

gray and white

Silhouette.