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Real-life male role models

Something kind of struck me earlier today as we had three early hehaviour child development specialists come to the house to test our little YY and see whether or not he is on track as a two-year-old boy. He is absolutely on track in all aspects of development, but that’s really another story. What I want to talk about is how all three specialists were women.

This got the little exercise wheel in my head turning. A lot of teachers are women, too. A lot – if not all – daycare teachers are women. A lot of single parents are women, also.

So, I wondered, what about the men? Well, men, historically until this generation and perhaps the last, have never really been the primary caregiver in the community, be it at home, school, or elsewhere. It’s often been the woman. And nowadays, it seems like there are very few male role models out there for little boys to look up to, apart from the ball-busting action heroes and sports stars. Really, seriously. Tom Brady and Batman are the big role models for kids these days. And god forbid, Dennis Rodman.

I’m not saying women have great role models of their own to look up to -
not in popular culture anyway. Movies are still predominantly written, produced and directed by men, with men as the leading stars. And so on.

But when it comes to real-life interaction, it almost seems as if there’s a lack of real social interaction between grown men and little boys in our society. I look at our little YY and see how much fun he has interacting with grown women in all kinds of different environments, but then I find myself wondering: Where are the men in this case?

This made me wonder about myself. I’m a red-blooded male, and kind of a beta one in the sense that I’m new-age, new-school, sensitive, creative, and driven by emotion rather than logic. But still, I’m a man. It seems that I’m my boy’s sole role model when it comes to men. That’s a lot on my shoulders. My wife has plenty of fellow peers that YY can look up to when it comes to women, but I’m one of the only men in my boy’s daily life.

Isn’t that interesting? Makes me wonder two things. Am I doing it right? Sure hope I am, because no doubt YY will look to me in the future for boy stuff. And the second thing is, what will become of the boys of today’s generation if they have this much lack of interaction with grown men?

Well, it’s not all that different from the past, is it? Men are often much more distant emotionally from their kids than women are, in the broad sense of community. But I guess the one huge difference now is that the father is much, much more involved in home life than he used to be.

That could well be a good thing. While things haven’t changed all that much out there, things have changed dramatically at home. It’ll be interesting to see how the next generation of men lives. I will certainly be watching, and I’ll have front-row seats to the whole thing via my little boy.

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And now he’s in his third year…

The little tyke’s already passed two, and well into his third year as I type this one crappy Monday morning in January.

As it happens, I have been a stay-at-home daddy for more than a year now, and I tell you, it hasn’t always been a picnic.

There are many cherished moments though that I can only begin to tell you about – our little father-son 10-day trip to Brooklyn in the summertime when the house just wasn’t fit for caterwauling and rambunctious rambling, our many day trips to the Museum of Science in Boston and the New England Aquarium, among others – and these moments I will hang on to for a long, long time. Reason being these kind of experiences with the little boy, long days together, many weeks and months as solitary companions to one another, allowed us to really bond. I may have been frustrated some of the time, bored much of the time, temperamental several times, and generally longing for a little more social activity oftimes, but in short, I’m blessed with some very strong memories of experiences as a father to my little guy.

And now we are entering the new year. I have to admit that apart from a couple of magnificent experiences including a trip to Brazil (blog post on that soon) and a visit from my parents over the holidays, I found it excessively difficult to be a stay-at-home daddy.

There were several moments where I was literally driven to tears with frustration. I posted to Reddit in desperation to ask for help and advice. I would just dread yet another long day, waiting for X to come home, because I just couldn’t handle it much longer.

But now, I just had my first real adventure in a long time yesterday -
went to an acrylic painting class at the Museum of Fine Arts, and it was magnificent. I loved painting and loved being able to interact with others in a normal setting for the first time in awhile. It also helped whet some of my ridiculous desire to leave here and move back to Canada – which thanks to the always insightful X, I realize was just based on unrealistic nostalgia and lack of true connection with people in Boston’s community.

Not to say that I don’t enjoy being with little YY. He’s a little treasure. I love playing Lego and Tommy the Tank Engine with him. Allows me to revisit my own childhood in so many different ways. I’ll continue to be able to do that even if I’m working fulltime. It’s just time to start working on a part of my life that has been set aside for the time being – which involves social connections and personal projects, both of which I’m really getting started on again as 2014 surges ahead.

Check back in a few to let you know how that progresses. And I assure you, it’ll be a great new adventure.