Monday, June 27, 2005

Oh, Boy

The boys got haircuts yesterday - Jete included. My cousin DJ is a hairdresser, and even though she is on maternity leave, she was kind enough to make a housecall. (Of course, I was babysitting her son DC, so she had to come by anyway.)

Jete and Ethan got their usual summer buzz-cuts. Ethan has thick hair like his father, and it grows fast. The shorter we cut it, the less often we have to bother him with the clippers.

This was a bigger deal for CG. He only had one other haircut so far. Nothing major... just a little trim of the bangs and removal of the mullet that had begun creeping onto his collar. But this time, it was serious. It's summer, and hot, and his hair had become a tangled mess. It had grown to mullet-length again. Plus, he loves to run his hands through it, regardless of whatever food or drink he is consuming at that moment.

Jete was all for giving CG the buzz-cut treatment too. But I just couldn't do it. He is only a year old! I wanted him to have a baby haircut a little longer before graduating him to "big kid buzz-cut". We compromised with a short haircut. Not quite buzzed, but not very long. Styled, but cropped. I could live with that.

DJ went to work on his curls. When she was finished, he hopped out of my arms where I had been holding him. We took off the cape, and there he stood. I hardly recognized him. My baby was gone. There in his place stood... a...


That's right. CG is all grown up. What a transformation.

It seems like he feels it too. Since yesterday, he has been acting differently. More daring. More adventurous. I can't stand the stereotypes, but I have to say it... He has been acting like a "typical boy."

You might not have noticed, but I'm a bit of a feminist. I hate traditional gender roles. Girls can be physical and boys can be gentle. Boys can be nurturing and girls can be mean. It all depends on the child. Everyone is different, and I can't stand defining children or adults by an image of what genders are "supposed" to be like.

When I was in high school, I worked nights with an office full of young mothers. They constantly tried to scare the crap out of me about pregnancy, birth, and babies. Of course, everything I knew about childbirth I had learned from soap operas; I had never even heard of a placenta until I started working there. They loved that I was a blank slate; I never tired of their stories.

But one thing that annoyed me was their talk about sons and daughters. They all insisted that having boys was so much easier than having girls. According to their opinion, daughters grew up to be so bitchy, hormonal, snotty and rude, they talked back all the time, and were whiny. Sons, on the other hand, were kind and loving and even tempered. They got mad from time to time, but weren't as up and down with their mood swings like girls were.

I've heard this argument over and over through the years. And I always dispute it. I am a girl, and I happen to think I was much easier to raise than my male cousins were. I had my moments, but every kid does. Growing up is hard work.

Before I had children, I never wished for a boy or a girl like some people do. During my pregnancies, I wanted to know what gender the baby was, but I didn't hope either way. When I was pregnant with Ethan and had an ultrasound, I was glad to hear he was developing normally. I wasn't relieved - or disappointed - to hear he was a boy. That was just helpful in choosing a name.

I have to admit though... I was a little worried. What I knew of the "typical boy" from personal experience scared me. I have babysat for boys, and I have male cousins. All of these boys have the same thing in common. They are fearless.

The boys I knew would stand at the top of a flight of stairs and jump down to the bottom step. Climb the highest tree in the yard and hang on with one hand while trying to grab the ball they had lost. Do flips and jumps on their bikes, without a helmet. They never thought twice about it. My heart would be in my throat watching them, but they'd just laugh.


You might have also noticed that I'm a bit of a worrywart. (Okay, a little more than a "bit".) As soon as I heard "boy" come out of the ultrasound tech's mouth, I knew I was in for a lifetime of stress.

Granted, I would worry no matter what my child was like. It's my nature. But having a boy, who every day challenged the laws of physics and gravity? That was setting me up for a lot of sleepless nights and visits to the emergency room. How is that less difficult than a teenage girl with PMS?

Here I am, 3 years later, with two boys. Ethan never became the tree-climber we thought he would, but CG is making up for it now. He is reaching and climbing and running from the moment he wakes up until the moment he goes to sleep. And I swear, since his haircut, it seems he is climbing higher and running faster than ever before.

This morning, he dove headfirst off the couch about 13 times in a row. Each time, he'd get up, shake his head, and climb right back up. And do it all over again.

Now, who says boys are smarter than girls?

If nothing else, we are in for a lifetime of entertainment. CG is a character. This has nothing to do with his gender. He makes us laugh on a regular basis. Every day he shows us what an awesome and wonderful place the world is. He brought joy back to our lives, and even in the darkest moments of Ethan's struggles, he reminds us to smile.

Whether it is the "boy" in him or a just his nature, he is an adventurer. There seems to be some balance, though. He likes to climb and jump, but he also likes to cuddle and read. I'll do my best to teach him to be cautious without losing his wild side. As the years go on, life will be a roller coaster of emotions; exciting and terrifying from one moment to the next. I have a feeling every day will be a struggle just to keep him in one piece.

Oh Boy. What a ride this should be.

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