Quick quiz: name more than five examples of idiotic, selfish and/or juvenile men in TV ads, or movies, television programs or books. Pretty easy, yeah? Now, name more than five men who are believable, decent, good, caring men in the same mediums. More difficult, right?
Rapidly approaching my first Single Adult activities as a divorced woman, panic struck so intensely I had been visiting a counsellor to address my significant… ah… “trust issues and social avoidance” (her words, not mine – I’d have gone with “self-preservation and comfortable habits”). Hence, I was given unexpected homework for the week ahead; testing the hypothesis that there were good men in the world and – to stop anxiety clawing its panicked way up my spine to throttle me – was told to look first for examples in books, on TV or in movies.
“I don’t want you to look for the romantic comedy/chiselled jaw/Disney happily ever after rubbish”, she told me. “Instead, I want to you consider the characters, their flaws, their strengths, and see if there are decent men, even presented fictionally. Men who try to do their best, not just for themselves but for their friends and family. Flawed people, yes, who might yell or get angry or pick their noses and make mistakes, but who also make and keep promises as much as they can, who try to be good. Go see what you can find. You need to find evidence that there are decent men in the world.”
I didn’t want to do it. Continue reading
“Please grab the door for me, son!” I implore as, laden with Sunday bag and child, I attempt to make it through the perilous double set of doors at the church with three kids in tow. “This is how to be a gentleman,” I whisper and wink as I pass him in the breezeway.
I have three sons. Growing up I only had one sister, so this realm of boys is new to me. Sure, I have a degree in child development, but that doesn’t seem to give me any edge in raising these somewhat foreign creatures. I’ve come a long way in nine years of boy-momming. I’ve learned to handle Venus fly traps, master knowledge of Star Wars planets, build amazing Lego ships, make parachutes out of tarps, and embrace loud noise and dirt. Still there is a long way to go to get them from where they are now to where I hope they will be as men. Continue reading
Over a decade ago, I was sure I was pregnant with a little girl. When the ultrasound technician pointed out “the turtle coming out of its shell” and then explained that the turtle was “boy bits”, the first thought I had was “Better not call him Abby then”, closely followed by “ARRGH! A boy? Boys are WEIRD! With different bits! How do you look after boys?” Twelve years later, I’m still learning how to look after boys, now in the company of two sons who thankfully have been looking after their own bits (“AARGH! Get OUT Mum!”) for over ten and six years respectively.
Turns out that the boy bits part was the easiest problem to solve (“Wipe in a number 8 and you’re sorted” is my advice to all first time Mums of boys.) As my sons have hit the ages of eight and twelve, the most difficult truth to face is that I can’t be everything my sons need. Continue reading
Boys like smart girls. Girls like Botticelli’s Venus, standing glorious, bright, capable, useful. Intelligent, practical, prodigious women were the idyllic sought-after prize or at least that was what my parents told me when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned this was not true. Proof of this theorem. Newton’s law of coupling and attraction: Boys like fun girls, flirty girls, and pretty girls.
Don’t get me wrong- some boys like smart girls (and I guess that was the subset my parents were targeting me for) but for the vast majority of 18-24-year-olds, intelligence was not at the top of their list.