"Mama, its your turn" I hear from the wee boy's room. He had been quiet for over 20 minutes - we thought he had fallen asleep.
I climb up to his top bunk to give him a goodnight hug, saying "I know why you called me in - you need lots more kisses!" But he stops me mid kiss attack and holds up his nightsky turtle (it shines stars on the ceiling.) "Put your finger on this part here." Okay.....
He tries to turn the 'on/off buttons', notes that they don't work when I am pushing the part he told me to, and says thoughtfully to himself "That's what I thought."
Then to me: "Mama, that's all I really needed you for. Goodnight!"
Overheard as I walked out into the backyard today. Spoken by Ty, perhaps, to our wee boy?
Nope. I happened to have walked by Gabriel, leader of the chickens. They were on a quest to find Dottie, the missing chicken. As soon as he spotted me he ordered me into the action. Order is the right word here! He did ask me nicely at first "mama, do you want to help us?" As soon as I said yes I was just one of his underlings. "Jack, you get dandelion leaves. She might come out for those." "Alice, you go search for Dottie. Mama, you help Alice. Go separate ways!" Yes, sir!
And we did finally find her, hiding in one of the dense bushes under the rhododendrom tree. In doing so we also find the secret egg laying spot! We knew they had found a secret spot somewhere in the yard, as we went from 5 eggs down to 2-3 eggs in their nest. Busted.
What a great weekend. Late spring is finally here - which for us means warm sunny days and cool night. Showers mixed with rain - and sometimes hail - all in one day. And many many rainbows.
Read the paper with a wee boy in my lap, then watered my strawberries and blueberries. I love the cool crisp mornings
Dance class - and then a rush to a T-ball game. Uncle Jason swung by on his bike midway through - and baba wore her green lantern shirt (causing Gabriel is to give yell out and a thumbs up in from the bench.) Most of the outfield he is in 'ready position' - looks quite serious. Too long of a pause in the play, though, and he dances on the base (or the mound).
Home! Then two hours of backyard baseball play with baba. Yesterday in the car he told me that 'all he wanted' was to 'stay home and play with baba in the backyard.' Boy got his wish. He also got mac and cheese for dinner. A very good shabbos indeed.
My favorite part of the day was playing water squirters in teh back yard while Ty made dinner. He is good at hiding now, so its actually a lot of fun. Several times I completely hid from him - and then pounced in a sneak attack.
The boys' excellent day ended with a long warm bath and a reading of the hobbit.
Gabriel slept in - so I got to enjoy some quiet time with Ty, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee.
Off to Talmud torah - where it was mitzah day. Gabriel and I helped make bones out of clay for 'the million bones' project - focused on increasing awareness to genocide in darfur. He was very proud of him self for using 'a knife' to cut the clay (it wasn't even really a knife - but he thought it was.)
Home to a much hotter day. Gabriel and I spent most of the time on the back porch. He helped me put a shelf together (the back porch looks so much more organized now!). Then we spent a good hour carving designs in the sidewalk chalk. He came up with this very clever way of making indentions with a ball-tie.
Atter a dinner full of greens from the garden (yay late spring), and I watered one more time (while also spraying the boys feet every time he ran in front of me squeeling 'try to spray my feet'), we relaxed outside in the yard. Ty laid on the hammock and chatted with her girls (the feathered kind) and I sat in the cool grass. We both watched Gabriel run around and play in the water (I had hooked it up to the sprinker for the garden.) He would run up to the edge (when it was watering the other side) and say 'I have a feeling I shouldn't stand here..." Then would open his mouth and let out a high pitched squeel when the water hit him.)
The boy who believes in fairies was pretty adament that the 'tooth fairy' did not exist - and in fact it was mama who was going to leave money. Ty agreed - noting the tooth fairy IS a little creepy. He checked in with me several times wanting assurance that I wouldn't lose his tooth. The next morning he awoke to two golden coins, which is says he is not going to spend.
This evening Gabriel and I were practicing golf swings in the back yard (trying to see how few swings it takes to get it to the other side of the yar - and for bonus points - under the hammock.) We had to move fast, though, because the chickens and the cat kept trying to hang out in our greenway. We would yell "Chickens! Chickens on the field!", chase them off and then quickly run back to our clubs to hit across the yard. As soon as we turned to go back the other way - "Chickens!" I thought he was going to bust in half he was laughing so hard!
At T-Ball practice the coach mentioned to the kids that they could bring their own bats. "Yay!" said all the kids - including Gabriel.
"Oy!" thought the mama. Gabriel's favorite bat is pink with hearts all over it. He has no idea this is a 'girls' bat.
So now we have two options, neither of which I like.
Either let him bring the bat - which means introducing another stereotype to him (we would need to tell him many people think it would be considered a girls bat, role-play what to say to the other kids, etc.)
Or go to the store and get him a new bat (which we have legitimate reasons for - the handle is definitley fraying.) But by doing so 1) he is just as likely to pick another 'girls' bat, especially if the store has one with tinkerbell on it and 2) trying to 'blend in' with expected gender roles feels really crappy.
I think part of my difficulty is that right now he sees nothing 'abnormal' about his life. Having a pink bat, having a female identified parent (mama) and a parent who is 'both boy and girl' (baba), liking both star wars and tinkerbell equally. All of this is perfectly normal for him. I know this bubble is going to burst soon - I just want to protect him as long as I can.
The other day Gabriel was eating lunch when out of his mouth came this comment "Men take big bites!"
I've should of known this was coming, but it still took me by surprise. We've done quite a bit of talking about gender already and have always emphasized variability in all gender. Even when explaining physical differences we emphasized this range (i.e. "most boys have p....'s, but some do not.) So far we've kept most gender messaging away from him by limiting his media and being selective about his peers.
Up until now it seems! So here we are. I took a laid back curious approach to this comment. Luckily, we have many male role models in his life who do not take big bites! "Hmmm" I wondered outloud, "do you think that is really true, or do you think that's a trick message?" (He knows about 'trick messages' as we play a game at trying to figure out how commercials and other advertisements try to 'trick' us into believing something). He said he thought it was true. Then we started to think of other men we knew (like Grandpa and his special Uncle J) that took smaller bites. He was pleased with himself when he eventually declared it was a trick message.
Still, he seemed a wee bit disappointed in the discussion. I recognize that he was just thinking outload about what it means to be a boy and be a man. These are good questions for him to be pondering and I want to encourage him to explore his own gender identity without getting stuck in false dichotomies. So I asked him if he liked big bites. After he said he did I suggest he say "I'm the type of man who takes big bites." It worked! Small boy beeming and happily announcing this to all who will hear.
A few minutes later I was on the phone to Uncle J informing him that we need to get together soon! (Gabriel has a more masculine man in his life on a regular basis because he often spends time with my mom's partner, but lately we haven't hung out with the more 'fabulous' males in his life). It was good timing as Uncle J had just finished buying several pairs of embroidered hankerchiefs off the internet. :-)
Ultimately I want him to know that his gender identify does not define his choices/interests/thoughts/feelings/etc. He is free to explore all options - not just those in the 'characteristics of a boy/man' box.
On a final note - regardless of his struggle with seeing variabilility in gender expression - he is rock solid on his understanding of the range of gender identities. Baba walked in during the middle of this conversation and said "But then what about me? What type of bites would you think I took?" "Baba" he exclaimed with such an 'this is sooo obvious' tone in his voice "you are a boy *and* a girl so you get to choose what bites you take." :-)
Love this kid.
Came home from an evening class (cognitive assessment).
Picked up sleepy boy from nanas.
Drove home to find a sleepy partner.
Minutes later - both are in the 'big bed' listening to the hobbit together.
Me: alone. quiet. with coffee and treats! About to get lost in an episode (or two) of west wing. :-)
A good ending to a long day.
Curled up in front of the fire watching the 1977 animated version of the hobbit with Gabriel and Ty.