When did my baby become a boy? He was always a boy, I mean. I remember that sonogram picture and the unmistakeable evidence: little weiner, proudly flying between half made baby limbs. I've changed the diaper and watched him flirt pretty much from awareness with girls and women all over town. That love of football? It started at 3 months. Why am I surprised that he is SUCH a boy? Snippets and snails and kitty cat tails (we don't have puppy dogs.)
His latest thing is running around dressed in Shark Pajamas, the pants legs fastened over his shoulders and flapping down his back like a cape. He is a superhero. And then there's also the sword fighting. He has sponge tubes and he likes to barrage anyone within range with wackity wacks. We've made the rule that he's only allowed to hit if the other person has a similar "sword." He also adores monsters of all types, both makebelieve and wild animal. Sharks, Alligators, Wildthings, Wockets in the Pockets, Nightmares in the Closets, Shrek the Ogre, what have you. He is not picky. All I have to do is say, "Are you a monster?" and up come his claws. Out comes his growl. And the laughter! Oh, it's so funny.
He's started to tell stories. Often featuring monsters and swords and much running about. He doesn't speak very well yet, so it's kind of hard to understand what is exactly happening in these stories, but something is happening. These are not things that I led him to do. He has picked up all of these things on his own. Painting, I can say I encouraged him in, and enjoy his interest in, but being a Superhero or a monster? These are things that mommy did not create for him. Something in the boy brain made the jump from small boy-person to Shark Boy who flies about the room with his cape.
He is growing up into a little person. A boy person. Not a baby.
When I first found out I was going to have a boy, I think I went into a little shock. I had a hard time conceptualizing how I, a woman, a very non masculine (though not girly) woman could have this male person growing inside of her. I've spent so much of my personal and professional life considering what it means to be a woman and girl, that the idea of raising a boy threw me for a huge loop.
Of course, once you have a baby, it doesn't matter what sex they are. They are just your little baby. Your little person. And you are the mommy, and that's all there is to it.
But now, the baby is fading away, along with the chubby legs, and the Boy, capital 'B,' is standing in the baby's place. Now, I feel like we're really starting to get into the business of what it means to be a boy, and someday not as far off as I think, what it means to be a man.
What role do I have, as mother, in who he is as a boy? As a man? How does it relate to all of my studies of what it means to grow up female? As a woman and a feminist and a human and a mother, I think having my Boy Boy is going to be one of my greatest life lessons. I can't even imagine what is going to come next.