Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Boy to man

This boy is my companion these days, my only buddy on our commute to work and school, the solo backseat flyer. He still isn't agreeable about this school thing. He loves it as a place but doesn't see why he still has to go if his sisters aren't going there. At the beginning of the day I say "are you ready to go to school?" and he continues the question as if it wasn't complete with kindergarten with my girls in their school? At the end of the day I pick him up and I say "ready to go?"

Yes, I mam! (That's how he says that.) He jumps and claps. I mam ready to go to big kid school with my L and my E! Every day I disappoint him. Every day I crush him a little by reminding him that size and age do not equate. He might be big, but he isn't big enough, which is to say that he isn't old enough, which is to say that he's been left behind.

A lot of my thinking right now is caught up in this boy and his crushed spirit. His size, for once, hasn't helped him, as the world looks at him and sees older-than-3, and he loves that. Yes, I mam big, he loves to say at every single stranger who says "what a big boy you are!" He's as tall as some of L's classmates.

I have been thinking about what it is to be a boy, and what it is to be large, and what it is to be a boy after two girls. Is he so big because he's the third kid, born largest as subsequent babies tend to be born larger? Is he so big because he's the boy? I don't have a hundred babies with which to reason out these questions. I just have this boy. Can I raise him to be a gentle giant? My little boy. He hates to be told it, but he's yet littler than he thinks.

I've spent so much time thinking about how to raise girls so nothing breaks in them; I've spent very little time thinking about how to raise a boy so he doesn't do the breaking or so he doesn't become broken himself. But I've been thinking about it this month as I watch my boy go through his first sustained emotional turmoil.

A quirk about living in the DC area is that that national news is, to us, always being made locally. We forget that the news outlets always watch our town. What's far worse, though, than the national news being made locally, is the local news becoming national. I'm driving this boy to school each day now under a half-mast flag at the front of my federal building because of the shootings at the Navy Yard a few miles down the road. 

My boy is yet little, and yet (please God, always) unbroken, and three-year-olds, unlike their big perceptive sisters, carry on endless narration in their happy little worlds regardless of whether or not you provide external input. I couldn't do this when I had L in the car but G chatters on and on and listens to my answers if he asks me a question but otherwise pays no attention. I drive home following the story on news radio. Soon he'll be old enough to be aware, and I won't listen to those horrors. But he isn't yet. Despite his insistence, he's still my little boy.

I pick him up at the end of the day. He waves to the short flag and I count woodpecker scars.Wounded trees, chatty boy. And on we go.

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