Growing up with a sister, I was curious and somewhat frightened of boys. I had the good fortune to grow up on a street packed with kids so there were no shortage of opportunities to observe boys in action. My mother, a bit of a feminist, made a point of telling us we could do anything boys could do and I made it my mantra. I was competitive, looking for opportunities to outrun, out-swim and outsmart them at every turn.
At the same time, they scared me. I didn’t quite understand them. My best friend’s brother routinely pinned her down and unleashed a blast of sulfurous gas. I stared in horror, silently praying he wouldn’t do that to me.
Somehow, I believed girls were better than boys. As it turns out, I was wrong.
Fast forward many years (what’s the point of sharing how many?), I was blessed with a gorgeous baby boy. And what a surprise he was. And is. At 7, he is educating me about the magic of boys. He’s all legs and platinum hair. Everyday, he makes me laugh – really laugh – with the things he says. While bathroom humour is definitely high on his list, it’s his commentary on life that my husband and I find so amusing. He’s piss and vinegar with a giant grin and an infectious giggle that makes my heart happy.
Through him, my girls are getting a firsthand lesson in the differences between boys and girls. Never once have my girls pulled their pants down and shaken their hips screaming, “Look at this!” Who knew that started so young? My daughters also know he will quickly wrestle them to the ground should they make the mistake of teasing him – or simply because they are near the ground.
My son is fascinated by everything around him. He pushes me to know more about space and science. Everyday is an opportunity to Google questions like, “Which is older, the moon or earth?” (The moon by the way.) Despite not owning a toy gun, his fingers become a gun, paper becomes a gun – everything can become a gun. YouTuber DanTDM is a like a demigod. And, the other night my son gave me a hockey lesson. He doesn’t even play hockey. He marvelled I knew the name of the Vancouver team – the Canucks. “Whoa, Mom, how’d you know that?”
Yet, despite some of his stereotypical ‘boy-ness’ he is sensitive and deeply empathetic in a way I wouldn’t have imagined. He kisses and thanks me after every meal. He roots on his friends when they speak in front of the class. He is heartbroken to know animals kill each other and we, too, kill animals for food. When a boy at school asked him “what girl do you love?” he answered, “my sisters,” unleashing a shower of teasing. When he thinks of death and the possibility of being without us, his face crumples and the tears seem like they will never end. He is, at once, more fragile, more needy than his sisters ever were.
I completely understand the term ‘mommy’s boy.’ I have one. I’m willing to bet most boys are at some point. My son’s love is abundant. He wraps his entire body around me and hangs off with complete trust. Through him, I see myself as the bright and beautiful person I’ve always hoped to be. He says he is going to marry me. My girls wrinkle their noses and say, “Eww.” Then they explain to him this is impossible. I love every minute of it.
The day will come when he no longer looks at me like some perfect woman. Already, he is distancing himself from me when we’re around his friends – slyly waving at me from the line at school.
I find it hard to imagine he will be a man someday with a stubbly face and a deep voice. While his boyhood will give way to the concerns of men, he will always be my little boy who taught me how beautiful boys can be. I hope he will prove to be just as soulful a man.
For now, we’re having the greatest love affair of all time. And, I’m going to milk it for all its worth.