About a Boy

February 21st, 2012

He told me while I was in the kitchen. Stirring something, soup maybe, onions or boiling potatoes, doesn’t matter really, whatever it was, my stirring soon became furious.
“They told me I wasn’t really a boy today.” His 12yr old voice tried to remain detached.
“Really” I replied, trying to match his detachment, while searching his eyes for the hidden pain. Trying my hardest not to scream at those who planted it deep within him that day at school.
“Why would they say that?” I question further. My anger now bubbling, sizzling, boiling, burning, My stirring only making a mess. Of things.
“They said I wasn’t really a boy, because I don’t like guns.”

I looked at him again. I looked at the boy who doesn’t like guns, never has. The boy who doesn’t like sports or video games, violent movies, racing or fighting. The boy who just doesn’t.
I looked at the boy who dreams of being a chef and spends every Saturday trying new recipes. The boy who worries about how someone is feeling, does push-ups with his dad each morning, and who is never without a book in hand just in case he gets a minute to read. The boy who gets a lump in his throat watching Earth-day movies with me each year, who loves his dog more than life itself.

I stare back at the stove and stir. I plot our escape from this small-town-thinking. Yes, tonight we will run-away to a place where he belongs without guns and judgment, without other boys telling him what he is and what he isn’t. To a place where their definitions wont define him. I will find him a safe place to be all he can be, to soar, to dream to fly higher than anyone else’s words.

But I can’t. And I know better. His 9ry old sister stands to the side watching my every move, waiting for my response. She in her muddy track pants with unbrushed hair, a week old frog tattoo peeling at the sides, and her dad’s huge crocks on her feet for the fun of it. My unsparkly girl who doesn’t understand why I ever want to put on lipstick, waits. My children stand there wondering where this conversation will go. These two individual, beautiful souls wait for my response. I stir.

I could tell him that he is unique, utterly wonderful as he is and truly amazing, but he’s heard it all before. That I would rather him over any other boy, but these boy’s and their opinions now matter more than his mother’s. I could tell him how those boys are small and he is tall, how they know nothing and he is so much better than that. I could pump him up and deflate them with just a few choice words. Yes, I had the power to get my revenge. Oh I wanted revenge on those boys and all their own insecurities.
But I didn’t.
“You know that there is only one thing that makes you a boy”
“What?” he and his sister asked.
“The only thing that makes you a boy, is your penis.” I said matter-of-factly, while stirring.

And then we all giggled. Because it’s hard to say penis without giggling.

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  1. Lorie says:

    Loved this article, thank you. It can be challenging to remain true to who we are in a world that often wants to define us by labels, which I think makes others feel better somehow at our expense.  It can be even more challenging to not  lash out especially to protect our children. But using anger and revenge would be just mirroring the same behavior as the other boys, who I am certain have been taught this behavior by it being modeled and mirrored to them.  Thank you for sharing a different, more loving and humorous way!

  2. Nadine says:

    You are a warm, wise and wonderful mother.  Lots of love from this motherofason  Nadine

  3. Reena says:

    I also giggled :) With glazed eyes . Thank you for this lovely article. 

  4. Natalia says:

    You’ve just taught your son how to deflect other people’s opinions in the wittiest way I would never have thought of myself.  From this day forward I will be conscious of using this perspective with my own children.  Thank you!

  5. The Loving Parent says:

    What a super ending! Just perfect. How lucky these children are to have such a wonderful, empathetic, conscious, free-thinking mother who sees her children exactly as they are. Wonderful. Thank you. xx

  6. Oz says:

    Time to move to Australia where our society is not obsessed with guns!

  7. Meg, Thank you for sharing this.  I too laughed, with moist eyes.  Your son is so very wise to have chosen you as his Mom. Well done, all! ;-)

  8. Andrea More says:

    I have a 7 year old boy and have put him into Catholic school just hoping “hoping” that maybe some of this can be avoided. That the spiritual teachings rub off and remain into middle school years on most of the children. We say penis a lot at home. It is funny.  Good job with not getting carried Way with the emotions. I really have to work on that. Thanks you!

  9. So wise. Now we know Panis have various usage :) lol I love it. 

  10. Elaine says:

    So love this, Meg!  Wonderful parenting.  Brilliantly written.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Beautiful! I felt pain in my heart in that first paragraph, but you handled it in such an amazing & simple way!!!

  12. You answered your son perfectly; but I think you already know that!  Sometimes, it is really hard to be a mom isn’t it?  I know.  I have two kids who aren’t exactly mainstream.  Gee maybe it’s because their mom isn’t exactly mainstream – and doesn’t really care to be!

  13. Excellent answer! If it’s OK with you, I plan to share this post in the coming week on BuildingBoys’ social media.The pressure the exists and surrounds boys — to be “manly,” to be “men,” to be the right kind of boy — exists everywhere. Luckily, your son will be better positioned than most to resist narrow definitions and be whoever he is, b/c he has a family and a mama who refuses to accept unnecessary and ridiculous limitations.  

  14. […] the first, About a Boy, Meg Lawton talks with her son about the harsh words used against him at school.  It is otherwise […]

  15. Katherine G says:

    You are one awesome mom! I loved the way you handled that. Your children are going to remember the conversation and smile cause you could have handled it differently. You are great!