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.