In my home, the word “boy” is both a noun and an exclamation, typically in the form of “Oh, BOY, what on EARTH did you do/say/destroy NOW?” I wasn’t prepared for this.
When my daughter Skyler was born, I devoured every parenting book to prepare for her arrival. I wasn’t prepared for the divorce that followed, but there were books for that too. When Skyler was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at age 8, I hit the books again and tried to find sanity when it just didn’t seem possible.
My son Brennin, however, has been a surprise in every possible way. There was no way to prepare for his comet-like arrival onto this planet. I wasn’t prepared to be unwed, pregnant and alone. I wasn’t prepared to tell Skyler she was going to have a sibling when I kept stressing the importance of not having sex before marriage. I wasn’t prepared to help her process the fact that this baby did not share her father. I wasn’t prepared, in the midst of deep, soul searing weight-of-the-world worry, to give birth to the most peaceful, fuss-free son, nor that my friends would be such a buoyant blaze of love and support.
But beyond that, I was most unprepared for what it <em>means</em> to be a boy. Aside from the obvious anatomical differences, Brennin is a yin yang of charisma and mayhem. These qualities do not exist separately; there are intrinsic measures of both qualities seemingly in everything he does. I can do cardio all day long, and I will never be a step ahead of him. The best I can hope for is to stay hot on his trailblazing heels.
Don’t get me wrong, Skye is a firecracker in her own right. I see myself in her; we look alike and talk alike. With Brennin, our similarities are not so obvious. He learned to say “Oh for Pete’s sake” like me. He’s crazy energetic like his sister, and big-hearted to boot. But where I can rely on Skye to sneak brown sugar when she’s depressed, or turn the TV on at midnight when she thinks I’m asleep, Brennin breathes random mischief. He runs with steak knives because he’s Ninja Brennie (they’re now put above the cabinets). I wake up to furniture Jenga outside my closet, cracking an eye open just in time to see the kitchen chair stacked with the bathroom stool stacked with the ottoman and then the small figure about to climb to the top. He’s the kid that will find the purse I hide behind a dresser lamp at my friend’s house, take out my new red lipstick and mash the contents far and wide into her flecked cream carpet at 6:30 am. He’s also the kid that will announce to his daycare teacher that she has a big baby belly, but I’ve got big boobs (news to me), and observe that his daycare teacher is chocolate, and subsequently offer to “help wash off the chocolate” outside in the sprinklers. Oh, and the kid that punches every male coworker in the crotch as a high-five (which I swiftly deterred one day with a responding swish to HIS crotch).
He leaves me in a constant state of astonishment, with various degrees of mortification, and yet my heart gets bigger. My boy Brennin is the kid who shouts “MOMMY!” across the daycare room while racing to get to me, arms flung wide for a hug. He’s the kid that at age 3 who opens the door for his mother and sister and shares his last bite of ice cream or the last M&M in the bag. I may not understand what it means to be a boy, but I’m glad every single day that I have one.