“Would you like some help with that Tom?”
“No thanks, I’ll be fine…”
Then he looked at me with a big grin and said “I’m a strong man, mum”
I don’t even know where he has heard that phrase before. He is a big, strong boy, weighing in at 20kg at his 3 and a half year old check. Sometimes I’ve lifted heavy things for him and he has exclaimed “Wow, you are strong Mum!” and perhaps I’ve said the same about him.
So why are there suddenly negative connotations that creep into the mind when a small boy says he is a strong man? What’s wrong with that really? It appears we are so focussed on our boys not becoming violent, insensitive men who are void of showing emotion, that we are fearing strength in boys. We are linking strength to all those other things. We don’t want to tell our boys to use their ‘muscle’ or ‘grow up big and strong’ because not all boys are strong or want to have muscle and muscle can lead to trouble, right?
It’s natural to fear what our boys could become, particularly with the sometimes skewed image of men given to us via the media. It’s good to be aware of these things but not to the detriment of our parenting. Here’s a boy, who is proud to be strong. Who wants to be a strong man. He knows no social media. He knows no articles telling us to keep toys gender neutral or to stay away from superheros. He’s just a kid, who wants to be a strong man.
And you know what? He was baking rainbow cookies when I asked him if he needed help as it was getting tough to mix as it formed the dough. Yesterday, we went to playgroup for the first time since we moved here, and he happily pushed around a pink pram and lovingly put a plastic baby into a mini highchair.
About an hour ago he fell asleep, clinging to my collar and telling me he loved me. He stroked my cheek and ear. He wished me sweet dreams. He feels with intensity this one. Love. Anger. Sadness. Happiness.
He’s a strong boy (man) who bakes cookies, plays with babies and loves his mum. I’d be happy for that to transition to adulthood! I want to encourage my child to be physically fit and strong, boy or girl. I don’t want to sink if he wants to show me his muscles or show masculinity. I want to be as equally proud of him showing typical ‘boy’ traits as I am of him showing his sensitive side. I don’t want to fear the man in the boy. I Just want to embrace him as a person and do my job – nurture all the good things that make boys into good men.
Don’t you think?