My wife and I are well on our way to having a second set of twins, you know, because singletons are just way too easy. And as they continue to develop, get further away from the terrifying 24-week mark, the stomach-shredding fear of losing another child lessens every so slightly. It’s being replaced by a different and much more playful worry: What am I going to do with a son?
Yes, we’re the type that like to know the genders ahead of time, and the ultrasound techs have long been telling us that we’re in for a boy and a girl. That will bring the offspring total to four chicks and one dude. And I have no idea how that’s going to go.
See, I was downright bummed when we were told that our first child was a girl. Took me a couple of days to get over it – not because of the legacy thing; it was more about venturing into the unknown. We had both sort of suspected otherwise, my only sibling is a younger brother and I barely even talked to girls until college. But then Mya was born and I came to see that little girls are the sweetest people on the planet. They wear pink and have dance parties and paint toe nails and snuggle with their da-das. At least, my girls do. Yes, they can be dramatic and emotional and bewildering, but my genes deserve as much blame for that as their gender.
And now there’s going to be a boy in the mix, a tiny man who is bound to like dirt and muscle cars and hunting and puppies. I don’t like any of those things nor do I have any fixing skills. I hate yard work, go out of my way to keep my shoes clean and own multiple pink shirts. I can’t handle more than two beers in a sitting. I am, admittedly and unabashedly, barely a man in the classic, Marlon Brando sense.
“Hold on,” you say. “But you’re a sports writer, just like Ray Romano – that’s pretty macho.”
Honestly, I don’t see it that way. Title IX was enacted six years before I was born. To me, sports aren’t related to gender – girls play them just as often as boys. Plus, my best sport in high school was tennis – I’m hardly a bone-crushing middle linebacker. I have girly fingers and prefer to run on a treadmill over going outside, for crying out loud.
Clearly, some of these comments are made in jest. Most of the time, I’m a fair to middling husband and father, largely because I don’t stay within traditional gender roles. I cook several times a week (and not just on the grill). I vacuum. I do most of the laundry. Frankly, I’d rather do that than repair a car or catch wild game – I don’t have any interest or ability in those areas. The manly drop off from my grandfathers to me is rather astounding – one was an engineer, the other owned a hardware store – and it’s not all just a matter of general improvements in standard of living. Same with my dad. He was a college wrestler (and a bit of a hell raiser). My experience with the sport ended in sixth grade because I wound up crying win or lose.
For as much as I’m willing to admit these shortcomings, there are times where I wish they weren’t so pronounced (and maybe they aren’t on the outside). It would be great to be able to repair a furnace like the dad on “A Christmas Story” or fertilize the yard without assistance. My fear is that the little guy – his name at this point is Ty, as in Webb – will want to do rough, tough man stuff, and that I won’t be of any help. I fear that he’ll see me as some sort of half-man. I don’t mind being that, I just don’t want him to see it that way.
Yet I also don’t want to force him to follow my smallish sized footprints, to dig smart phones and color-coordinated gym attire. If he digs dump trucks, well, I guess I’ll need to take the time to learn right along with him. Odds are, I’ll have to do the same with my girls as they approach their teenage years.
Most of all, I want Ty to be Ty, it’s just that there will be some nervous moments until we get to meet him.