While wandering past the bathroom with a stack of laundry this morning, I spotted my seven-year old son blowing his nose on a decorative hand towel. I backed up and looked again to be sure my eyes were not deceiving me. They weren’t.
“Son, what do you think are you doing?” I asked.
Looking rather confused, he scratched his cartoon-clad butt and said, “Uh, nuttin’.”
“Son, please do not deposit your snot on my towels.”
“Well, what’s it hanging there for?” he asked earnestly.
The question wasn’t surprising, coming from the kid who typically dries his hands on his jeans and if he misses a spot, will spit and wipe. At times like these, despite the absence of armpit hair and beard stubble, I catch glimpses of the man my son will someday become – and I panic.
How did this happen? This is my child. A human being which I created and nurtured from birth. Like a lump of clay drawn from my body, I am responsible for the shape he assumes…. so, why are there times, despite my best efforts, his form seems alien to me? This portion of him that is strange and illogical must be chromosome-related, I think. Yes, that’s it. I do not understand his maleness. I mean, if gender-distinctive characteristics and mental philosophies are not inherent, then how did this happen? There’s no other explanation.
“Son, dry your hands on the towel and use a tissue for you nose, got it?”
“I guess,” he shrugged eying me as if he doubted my mental stability.
I’ve always heard that you raise children up the way you want them to go. I imagine this is similar to staking a plant so that it is properly directed and controlled. However, some vegetation, no matter how persistently tended, seems determined to grow wild, slanted, out of control– similar to the mountain rose, which keeps encroaching on our back patio. I wonder… Will my son become a mountain rose? Is he, due to gender, somehow blighted and predestined to be noxious? Thorny? Wild?
Will he grow up to be the kudzu of mankind?
If so, what am I unleashing on future females?
I’d prefer to think I am capable of domesticating my son or perhap even creating a hybrid male: one with the strength of men and the sensitivity of women. One who enjoys football and spitting but will put his laundry in the hamper and only scratch in private…. To ensure this happens, I should make every effort to keep my son properly directed and under control. Sigh… even then, he may be a like the rose: wild by nature and a hassle to maintain. Of course, the roses smell very nice when they bloom.
Speaking of which…
“Son, don’t forget to put on your deodorant.”