This is hands down the most awkward thing to have to talk about. I'm four years into this trial and feel like I am getting a little better at it as the days go on but there is so much that I have to worry and think about that I always feel like I'm going to miss something that is ultimately important to the process and truly screw these kids up.
I have a daughter and two sons, 4, 2, and six month respectively. the youngest I have no worries about right now, because to him, I'm merely a go between on the time that he is a asleep or fussy or gassy to when he gets a breast put in his face... he's easy. my older boy he is a cause for me to worry because I am stuck in a wonderfully awkward position of having to be fatherly and raise him to be a boy that will become a man... and I hardly feel qualified for the job. And the girl... oh man... what the hell am I to do there... she is the complete opposite of me... I understand noting of how her little brain works, and yet, I sure as shit have to teach her too... but what?
for the boys that's easy, I need to teach them to be the right kind of man. One that stands up when he must and knows the right time to step back and let life play its course. I have to teach them all the manly things. All the things that I know how to do, as a male, in the male way. There is a lot of talk about letting, or pushing, boys to act in ways that make them easier to deal with, making them more docile and easy to control or at very least easier to get into thinking the "right" way. But I'm not one of the "right" way of thinking kind of guys myself. I'm a firm believer in the core of being male, being masculine. Not macho, but someone that believes that there is a way that men are supposed to act and that I expect myself to act that way. the boys need to learn how to be men.
The first thing that think that they need to know is to be themselves. and not in the stupid "be yourself the way everyone says is the okay way to be yourself" kinda way. That's a path that causes naught but confusion and frustration. You know what I'm talking about. Be the kind, gentle , and passive fellow. Just to the point that you don't actually rock the boat so everyone knows you are stable and consistent. But not too stable... then you're a weirdo that doesn't think for himself... can't have that... but only think for yourself when it's okay to do it and won't upset those around you....
It's hardly surprising there is a mess of young men now days that are truly stunted mentally.
I need to teach them to be lovers of what it is to boys. They should love to get dirty, which should be hard since dirt seems to glue itself to my older boy when he is sitting still. They need to learn to be physical. They need to learn that they are creatures of action by their very nature. They need to do things they need to be active. Being quiet and thoughtful is a trait that develops, but for some reason people think it is a trait that boys need to learn early. Or worse are deficient for not having it in them right away.
My daughter has this trait. She can sit, for a while, and be content observing. Of course, she being four, means that the amount of time is very short, but is getting longer week by week.
In my musings I came to the realization that there are three patently male activities that are at my core.
Protect, provide, and procreate.
Now, I'm a firm believer that these are my absolute basic drives. I have to protect what's mine, be it family, friends, or property. Without doing this I cannot, in my view call myself a man. Any man that let's this principle attribute be delegated is fooling himself of being a man. This also means that as a man I am, by nature, going to be more readily inclined to aggression and stubbornness. These are to personality traits that have been deemed as silly and they point to the fact that men never really outgrow their boyish tendencies. But these are also traits that I think my boys should have, and are traits that I will, joyously, nurture in them. For certain, their mother does not have the same mental architecture to do so.
The next in that line is provision. I learned as a very young boy what want felt like. I knew the pangs of hunger too well. The worry of where I was going to be laying my head, while a far outside thought, was there, because there was no stable man in my life.
Now, full props to my mother, she raised my sister and I well enough. But the leanness of my upbringing has left an indelible mark on my thinking. I am shrewd and careful with food, very cautious with what I have so as not to replace it before required, and incredibly miserly. Though I cannot ever get over the thought that had we had a stable present man in our lives that was dedicated to providing, life would have been easier. I would not have had to learn life lessons the hard way. I certainly would more likely than not, have worried about eating something that I was not supposed to eat. So now, as a father, I am always thinking of how I am going to bring in more money in order for us to have the basics in abundance. It's little things too, like making sure that there is always one extra gallon of milk in the fridge, because my two year old drinks it like water; or that we always have a little more than enough of everything. I am by no means of great financial standing, I do not make near as much as I want to be making at this point, but the simple fact that I worry about how much my kids have eaten as opposed to whether or not that they have eaten fills me with pride.
Now then... Procreation. Obviously I am not going to start walking the boys down that path for a loooong time, but it is a path I need to walk with them. I don't think that anyone can argue that in the last twenty to thirty years there has been an overwhelming trend of opening up women's sexuality while at the very same time demonizing that of men. Which is a real shame that something that is supposed to be so much fun has become so villainous and derided. From the simple fact that as men, and by extension boys, have to worry at all times whether or not they are being "sexual predators". Somehow I need to teach my boys, and my daughter (I'll leave the lion's share of that talk to the wife though) that sex is not a bad thing. It is a good thing, hell a great thing. They need to see that the end result of the act itself is all guided toward the idea of making a new person, and if they think that they are old enough or ready to lay the role of "mom" or "dad" then... well that's where it's gonna go.
But... and this is a huge BUT. I refuse to let them see it as a weapon that can be wielded against the other sex.
These are basic thoughts... the core principles that drive me as a man... as a father.
Being a father is hard. It is terrifying. It is one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had.