Several years ago, a nice family came over our house. It was partly for a social call, and partly to see if our family would do well as a daycare for their two kids when the mom went back to work. The girl was about four, and the boy was about six.Parents can play all the mind games they like, but except for the gammas-by-nature, most boys will eventually find their way to some modicum of masculinity. And even the gammas, by virtue of their snarky sniping, clearly have some notion that they are missing something.
As we adults chatted, the kids explored the house. At the far end of the living room were the toys, including a tidy bucket full of weapons belonging to our sons and daughters. There were bows and arrows, swords of all kinds, scimitars, light sabers, pistols, slingshots, rifles, daggers, and machine guns. I watched a little nervously, because I knew this mom leaned progressive, and was raising her kids to be non-violent.
Her little girl immediately found a baby doll, sat down, and put the doll to bed. The little boy scuttled over to the weapons, and before I could say more than, “Um–” he had grabbed two swords and swung them, with a natural expertise, in a gleeful arc over his head.
“HAHH!” he shouted, and held that pose for a moment, swords raised. Eyes on fire, happiest boy in the world.
I slewed my eyes over to his parents, not sure what I would see. Horror? Disgust? Outrage? Dismay?
They both looked . . . immensely relieved. “Well, there goes that,” said the dad, apparently referring to the no-weapons policy they’d followed strictly for the last six years. I tried to apologize, but they both said, “No, no, it’s fine.” And it was fine. There was no tension in the room. Their son had hands made to hold weapons, and now he had some.
I wasn’t surprised to see the boy taking so naturally to swordplay, but I was fascinated to see his parents taking so naturally to the rules of our house, which were so different from the rules in their own home. Once their son’s unsullied hands first made contact with the weapons of war, the whole family relaxed into that reality immediately.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Boys will be boys
Masculinity is not a social construct: