Friday, October 29, 2010

"Misreading Masculinity"

When Jack was a baby, mature moms warned me that my sweet little angel would one day point guns in my face and pretend to kill me.  Enough moms whom I really respected (and whose children I liked!) told me this, and I started to believe this might be true.  That it wouldn't mean he was on a path to violence in life.

When he was also tiny, I read Raising Cain and then Misreading Masculinity.  Freakin' fascinating, and both were invaluable for really understanding my very-very-boy boys. 

But something I read in Misreading Masculinity seemed strange to me at the time. It said that boys in school are told they can't write about death, so then they have nothing to say.  The crisis with boys in reading/writing isn't because boys aren't interested, it's because they want to read/write about things that aren't acceptable in schools. 

Boys writing about death?  Little boys?  I couldn't imagine.  Doesn't that mean they're unstable and unhappy?

I asked Steve (a kind, loving soul) if he'd ever drawn pictures or written stories about death and killing people.  "Oh definitely.  I remember this one picture of a haunted house, with axes falling on people and blood everywhere."

Whaaaat?  After that conversation...seeing how Steve grew up to have a stable, solid core... I stopped being concerned about seeing any of those things in the future with Jack (and then Andrew).

Fast forward 5 years, and Jack is creating "personalized stationary" for Grandma Candy for Christmas.  We're using blank notecards, and he's drawing pictures on them for her to send to people. 

Jack: "Can I put in rough pictures?"

Me: "What does 'rough' mean here?"

Jack: "Like shooting people and things?"

Me: "Hmm.  I'm not sure that would work with Grandma Candy. Can you draw other things?"  He nodded without issue.  "Sure!"

Jack spent about a half an hour at the table, drawing away.  Then he came to me, sincerely perplexed:

"I don't know what else to draw.  I drew two cards, but I can't think of anything to draw that isn't about shooting people.  That's all my brain wants to draw.  I drew one with pieces of candy and another with animals. That's all I've got."

We brainstormed awhile, and he came up with birds and her name done artistically and a few other things.  But seeing how much of a brain-block he had beyond shooting people was just downright odd....especially when you see the type of child he really is.  Kind, gentle, caring.  Not aggressive or violent. 

Also today, we were watching a channel with commercials (unusual for my kids - we tend towards PBS and movies).  Jack and Andrew went nuts over the Nerf guns and Buzz Lightyear commercials.  Then a toy horse commercial came on, and Simone shouted: "This movie is for ME!" 

Considering she's never owned or ridden a horse, I really don't know how she decided this.  But I've heard rumors of the horse craze rampant among girls, so perhaps this is an early indicator.

Parenting is fascinating.