I’ve spent a surprising amount of the weekend doing things that are stereotypically manly, and enjoying myself too. On Saturday I had my now-traditional posh shave at a barbers, with J and K in tow – after getting over the fear of paying a stranger to rub a sharp blade over my neck (which happens surprisingly quickly) it’s a lovely experience. You end up sooo smooth and a bit more relaxed. The place is definitely a barbers, run by Turks and Greeks without the need for the United Nations – this was the first time I’ve been there where there were any female staff, and it was nice to see other dads bring their sons in for haircuts. I think because of the Turks’ love of children, the boys were talked to and respected, rather than being ignored or not wanted. The boys waited very patiently but declined the barber’s offer of shaving cream.
The boys helped me put together some of the cabinets for the bathroom, with J doing a very good job with the dowels. After that I wielded my hammer drill and put the blighters up on the wall, hung the doors and so on. (Very nearly finished.) I also did the last bit of wood preservative on the shed – a job that has passed the threshold where it goes from a source of stress and lots of clutter to no/reduced stress and less clutter than you started with (otherwise known as “finishing”). The cupboards are v. close to this point too.
On Saturday afternoon J, K and I played with the rest of my(?) father’s day present, which was a Mecano like thing with motors, gears, pumps, propellers, caterpillar tracks and so on. It claims to teach lots of science; all I know is that we all had fun and I think that J has grasped the concept of needing a complete circuit for electrical things to work – this was quite simple as broken connections stopped the interesting things happening. We’re also laying the foundations for debugging 🙂 – if your complicated thing doesn’t work, try to break it down into simpler things until it starts to work again, then add things on slowly so you can see what breaks.
These were all very male, and it got me thinking: what kind of a man do I want the boys to grow into? There’s stuff that would be true of any child of mine regardless of sex, things like wanting them to be happy and healthy, kind to others and so on, but even if they manage to negotiate sex stereotypes successfully themselves, the stereotypes still exist in society around them, so what is there peculiar to boys and men that I’m hoping for?
I haven’t organised these into a proper order yet, so apologies for randomness. I hope they see the value in physical strength and skill, but don’t judge themselves or others by bicep size, and don’t use strength to win an argument. I hope that they realise that their partner will get tired too, sometimes more than them, and so share the hard work they have in common. I hope that they apply themselves to whatever job they end up doing, in the home or outside it, but don’t define themselves or others just via their job.
I hope that they see that a real man is one who’s prepared to change his baby’s nappies, and lets his wife or girlfriend do some of the driving (someone who doesn’t is less of a man, not more, in my opinion). I hope they can cry and show emotions when it’s appropriate, show their weaknesses too, but have the strength to cope when loved ones need caring for. I hope they have the relationship with God and with a partner that I have, but those are areas where I have to leave them to find their own path.
Hmmm… I think it’s time to read Steve Biddulph again, but properly this time.
3 thoughts on “Being a man”
That’s a wonderfully thought provoking post, thank you for sharing. I’ve never read Steve Biddulph, would you recommend it?
I’m afraid I’d have to disagree that meccano and debugging are particularly male pursuits though, you’re just trying to keep all the fun things to yourself! 😉
As per usual with parenting books, Katy read it properly, and I skimmed it. What I noticed seemed good, though – insightful and common sense at the same time. I suppose common sense is a synonym for agrees with my biases, which I mistakenly believe are shared by everyone.
In the Peter and Jane school of gender roles I think that mechanical and spatial things are male, as is computing, but I agree that often we blokes try to hoard the fun things!
Definitely recommend Steve Biddulph 🙂
Raising Boys is a very easy read, for a start, and full of interesting stuff as well as lots of common sense.
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