Ribbons and Sports and Boys

8 Jun

Tonight I will be attending my sons’ end of the school year program.  My eldest is being very hush hush about what his role is, but he has told me it is a very small part, which doesn’t surprise me.  He has never liked performing on stage. He loves playing sports and being in front of a crowd in that sense but he has never liked being in front of an audience.  I remember going to see him in a play when he was about 5 and he stood there on the stage and cried the whole time. Broke my heart. I finally just went up to the stage and took him off. I ruined the whole Oscar-worthy production but dammit, my child needed me.

My youngest, however, has always enjoyed being on stage and getting attention. He’s the kid raising his hand and asking ‘who wants to smell my finger?’ when the teacher asks if anyone has any questions.  Oh yeah, I know.  I have never questioned where he got this need for attention. Like I’ve said before, your children will show you things about yourself that you like and things you don’t like, amplified by about 2000.  I don’t like or dislike my need for attention and to make people laugh. It’s just part of who I am.  I have had to learn to control it just like my boys will need to. There is a time and a place for everything and I’m very patient with my boys in this regard because I am 42 and sometimes I still struggle with what that appropriate time and place is.

My baby boy has told me that he has chosen to be in the ribbon number. If you can imagine a child that looks like Jack Black performing with a ribbon, ala Will Ferrell in Old School, then you can see why I am so excited to see him in this performance. He was the only boy in the ribbon number last year and it pleases me so much that this year he has chosen to be in it again even though his brother is ‘worried ‘ about him because of what other people will think.  My eldest is very sensitive and sweet but he has ALWAYS wanted to blend in with the crowd.  He likes to make people laugh, very much so, and he has a great sense of humor, but he prefers to be the kid making smart ass remarks in the back rather than the kid holding court making everybody laugh.

My youngest still asks me to paint his toe nails because he thinks it’s cool (and I do it of course). My eldest stopped asking me to do that when he was about 4 because he decided (and by decided I mean his father’s mother told him) that only girls did that. The thing is they tried telling my youngest that same thing but he doesn’t give a rat’s ass. He likes it, so he does it.

Being a rather liberal parent, I want both of my boys to be totally open to embrace ribbon dancing and toe nail painting but trying to force my eldest to do those things he doesn’t want or like to do would be just like me trying to tell my youngest that he CAN’T do those things.  It’s just not who he is. Sometimes I feel like this is how the Keaton’s on Family Ties must have felt when Alex P. started being interested in conservative republican values rather than the hippie ideals of his parents.

As a loud and boisterous person who was never really interested in sports I can relate to my youngest more than my oldest. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love and adore my oldest and take great pride in the fact that he is a part of me.  He teaches me so many things just by being who he is and it’s amazing how interesting a sport becomes when your child is playing. He asks me sometimes what my favorite sport is and my answer is always ‘whichever one you or your brother is playing’.

I want both of my boys to be comfortable enough with who they are that they do whatever they want to do. Whether that means ribbon dancing with painted nails or playing sports without painted nails or any combination thereof. I want them to know they are perfectly perfect exactly the way they are and that I’ll be there cheering for them from the bleachers or the audience or wherever, always.

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