This morning, Eli came into my room to snuggle. As we chatted, he said something mean about his brother, just the garden-variety "Oscar is stupid..." or something of the sort.
I stopped hugging him and pulled away, angry.
"Look," I said, "the mean things people say to each other, that siblings say to each other, about each other, stick," I said. "My mother always told me and my sisters that, and it's true. You end up feeling bad about yourself later because of something someone said about you when you were young. For some reason, we believe these things, believe me."
He just smiled. "But you and your sisters were girls, we're boys," he said with that smirk he gets when he thinks he has shown he's smarter than I am.
Now, I was really enraged. "Are you kidding?! You think it's okay for boys and not girls?! That seems to be the prevailing sentiment, yes, so boys say all kinds of mean things to each other, teasing openly, differently than girls, but it doesn't make it okay. Boys feel bad about themselves too, they believe this stuff about themselves too, and it is only down the road, maybe if you have girl friends or fall in love, that you'll hopefully be able to open up about all these things. It's pathetic."
He just stared at me, a slight smile on his lips. Then, he regaled me with an example, a mean thing a boy in his class had said to another boy about his lack of skill in sports. "And that boy he said it to is the best one in sports!" he said.
Ah. This started me on another great rant. My common, "People, sadly, just want to keep other people down 'cause they're jealous..." rant. I went on and on at great length about how horrible it is to take out on others your petty jealousies and insecurities, how it doesn't get anybody anywhere good. He started humming at one point, at which point I, finally, shut up. Whew. Tough snuggle.
But all of these things are so important! I am getting to know the male psyche better than ever because of my boys, because of what they think intuitively or learn from society is okay and not okay for a boy to think and do.
I have learned, anecdotally, from giving out stars and long before that, as long as I have had male friends, which is forever, that boys have feelings, just like girls. Sharing them is so often not okay, but I have often been privy to boys' feelings because I elicit them, I am interested. Giving out gold stars, the men seem sometimes more grasping and grateful than women, many of whom will shout their emotional needs from the rooftops, for better and for worse, not that that means they get them met...
Listening to my own son--the next generation, the generation I am hopeful will be more enlightened--disregard the feelings of boys in general makes me crazy. I am on a mission to make sure my boys know they have a right to their feelings and respect others' rights as well.