21 August 2006

Like a little weed

My nephew, who is 11, starts the 6th grade on Wednesday. He'll be going to a new school for it - I guess middle schools are 6-8 now, or maybe just where he lives is like that. I just barely managed to not tell him about how when I was going into 7th grade, I had nightmares and panic attacks every night that I'd get on the bus on the first day, and some 8th grader would cause a spectacle/embarass me/kick my ass for sitting in their seat on the bus. That would totally freak him out, too. I love him, so very much, but he is... to put it bluntly, a big pussy.

He didn't grow up with a lot of male role models, only my dad, really. And now my brother in law. But I tried to make him into a tougher kid. I was a tomboy, and grew up in a neighbourhood where I was The. Only. Girl. Until recently, I had almost strictly male friends. If anyone in the family could toughen Ty up, it'd be me. He's a tall, strong, well-built, attractive and smart young man. However, I appear to have massively failed at my effort to make him a man's man.

We were all in the pool this weekend - me, my sister, our friend Heather, the three babies, and Ty. At one point, to get him back for repeatedly shooting me in the face with his SuperSoaker, I picked Ty up and hurled him about 2 feet, into the water. You'll note I was in the water at the time, so it wasn't a painful hurl from above, or really much more than a glorified shove. Anyone who's spent any time whatsoever in a pool has had this done to them. I believe it to be a right of passage - you're not truly loved until you're thrown across the pool unawares.

Except when he surfaced, he had his hands over his face and was crying. Not just I-want-attention crying, but Oh-My-God-The-Injustice sobbing, complete with whimpering and high-pitched cries. This lasted about 20 minutes and finally we all just got out of the pool, and soon enough he seemed to forget about it. I was truly baffled. I know he kind of has a thing about water in his face, but I hadn't hurt the boy. I didn't insult him or tease him mercilessly. I hadn't held him underwater for minutes on end. Yet there he was, back to us, hands in face, sobbing. His baby sister fell into the water a few weeks ago and was under longer than he was, and when she surfaced, she sputtered and splashed and gave me a look of "What the fuck was that all about?!" but didn't cry.

When I told the brother-in-law about it, he took as much affront to the situation as I had. "He was crying? We need to toughen that kid up or he'll never survive high school." I agree. If the other kids find out how sensitive he is, they'll circle and attack, eating him alive like piranahs. Luckily, Ty has no other glaring fatal flaw for them to exploit, so perhaps he can get through relatively unscathed. Not that anyone gets through high school unscathed, but I hope it's not worse for him than anyone else.

I am looking into getting pregnant now, and considering all my options for conception, but the likelihood that I will be a single mother is extremely high, and I'm okay with that. Except I desperately want a boy, and I desperately do not want my son to be as thin-skinned as my nephew. Everyone says it's different when they're your own, and perhaps that's true. Perhaps living with me every day, and allowing me to be the role model would have a totally different outcome. I'm fearless, and a hard-ass, and would likely wind up raising a bully. I'm just not entirely sure if that's better or worse.


chelene said...

From what I remember of high school, it was a vulture's nest. I was a bit of a crybaby all through elementary school but I had toughened up by junior high school out of sheer necessity.

It's funny, if and when I finally have a baby I really want a boy too. There's just something about them. I'd love a daughter but I can't say I wouldn't be a little disappointed at first.

Tippy said...

I think I had my first fight in jr. high and by high school, (a) no one fucked with me except the administration, and (b) I was pretty well-known/accepted. I won't say POPULAR but I did well enough.

I would be happy with whatever I had, but DAMN IT I WANT A BOY! I mean, I don't think I'm predisposed to have a "Gilmore Girls" type of relationship with my daughter, and I'm such a tomboy that I think I'd do an awesome job with a boy. Although it would be cool to have a baby to put in cute dresses.

Aeroplanic said...

Leave that kid alone. In a few years he'll have women up the wazoo as he'll be a "Sensitive man". Either that or he'll have a Judy Garland collection, whatever.

Tippy said...

He'll probably be like my brother J, get manscaped and manicures, an be the sweetest man ever, redux. He better make some bad-ass friends, like J did.