Growing up, I didn’t know boys. My family was made up of girls – my Mom and three sisters. The lone male of the household, Dad, moved out when I was 14.
As a young girl, I thought boys were immature and rude. They laughed at things that weren’t funny, like farts and boogers.
Boys wrecked stuff. I hated when mothers brought their sons over to our house to play. They pulled off my dolls’ legs and poked pins in their plastic belly buttons.
They were violent, running amok, using their fingers as guns, “pow-pow, pow-pow-pow.” They’d keel over dead for a few moments only to jump back to life and shoot ‘em up all over again.
Once, Billy (who liked me, I thought) came by my house in Trail, B.C. with a box tied to the back of his bike. He threatened to chop me up, put me in that box and throw me in the Columbia River. Stupid boy.
Boys teased, pushed and threw bugs at me. As far as I could tell, they added no quality to my life. I warned them all to “stay off my lawn.”
My thoughts changed a bit in my teens. I was a little curious about what it might be like to hang out with one of those characters. Even though the Women’s Lib Movement was picking up steam, I still believed a boyfriend would make me feel attractive and worthy. But, through dating, I found boys unpredictable and unreliable. I was generally disappointed.
By the time I was 16, I wore a t-shirt that said, A Woman Without a Man is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle, and was threatening to join a convent.
There was one boy in my social circle who caught me off guard when he asked me out. I thought we didn’t like each other, so I don’t know why I said, “sure.” Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this one’s company. I could talk to him and he listened. Turned out he was engaging and fun. What the heck, as long as I was having fun, why not carry on with the relationship? That boy wore down my defenses. He became my number one man and the father of my children – The Consultant.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I knew I ran the risk of giving birth to a boy, a species I had most expertly avoided. I felt a little unsettled and nervous about the prospect of having to parent a raucous little he-man. And what would I do if I did?
The moment of truth came 6 weeks early, cutting my worry time short. In April 1989, I met my newborn and it was definite – I was the mother of a boy.
The instant I looked into Buddy’s blue eyes, my worries turned from, “how do I parent a son?” to the realization that, “I am responsible for this little life.” His bottom fit in the palm of my hand and his body extended to the bend at my elbow. We were a perfect fit.
This boy showed me a gentleness I didn’t expect. Buddy is a kind soul who cares about the feelings of others. When he sees hurt in a friend or family member, he feels it too and knows when to stick around as a warm body to hug.
He’s one of those good-natured kids who seldom complain. Yet, he has an intense competitive nature where he strives to be his best. He is hard on himself and is his own worst critic, which often leads friends to believe he’s not having any fun at all. But just ask him and he’ll assure you, he’s having a blast.
Although, he takes life very seriously, he does know how to have a good time and laugh. He loves nothing more than a good practical joke or some slapstick humour.
I see Buddy as a leader. He is a born thinker and observer of life with a strong desire to make something of himself. All through his childhood, we had many conversations where he’d go away, think for a while and then come back with his own comments. His ideas showed wisdom beyond his years. I began to see him as an old soul.
His responsible side showed mostly in his worry of running late. In primary school he would sit at the back door, twenty-five minutes before school started, jacket and backpack on, scolding me for keeping him waiting. School was five minutes away.
I feel fortunate. Raising him has been easy. I can count, on one hand, the number of times he caused me worry. He pulled an all-nighter in his late teens. When he walked through our door in the morning I looked him in the eye and said, “In all these years, you’ve given me nothing to worry about. Please don’t start now.” And that was the end of it.
As the mother of a son, you instinctively delve beneath the surface and get to know the boy. Of course, my boy was different than those I disliked so much as a kid. He’s always been so much more than the immature, rude, violent, stupid boys I’d known – even though he does laugh at The Three Stooges. And he still laughs at farts. But I love his laugh.
As a young adult, Buddy presents himself to the world as a confident, tough man. But I know that gentle, shy boy is still in there. When he places a hand on my shoulder and says, “Mom. It’s okay,” I feel his calming influence.
Having Buddy as my son has turned out to be one of my biggest joys. I love watching him tackle life.
Buddy has shown me a different type of boy and it’s through parenting him that I see redeemable qualities in others. I know how to encourage and support boys now. I can cheer them on.
All that worry about raising a boy was for nothing.