My boy likes sending kisses
So we were in the midst of writing out my Sons Christmas cards today. I always like doing these with him because we get to see who he likes and who he doesn’t like at school. He’s always very guarded about these things, and it’s a chance to get him to open up and be honest with us to express his feelings a bit more. There are other indirect methods we use to get him to offer up the information without realising what he’s doing but this is one of the best. My wife was through in the kitchen designing a lovely Mediterranean dish that had me watering at the mouth like I had found my first waterhole in a barren desert. I had just stopped work to lend a hand, and I sat with Alex writing out his lovely messages to his friends.
He picked out a card that was going to be for his friend Ollie, and as I understand by the “Yes” noises, Alex really quite liked the idea of sending a card to his little friend Ollie. I always get wrapped up in the moment when he is feeling good about something, it always fills me with incredible Joy.
So he starts to fill out the card to his friend, Ollie, and as I watched him my eyes grew wide with curiousity, my mind farted a little as I tried to come to terms with what my little boy was in the process of doing. He had filled the card with kisses, literally from top to bottom, for his little friend. Now at first, the 1980’s man in me thought about banning him from doing such a thing, taking the card away from him and demanding that he write out a less emotional card, because, that, well..
“Boys just don’t do that to other boys”
And then I had to sort of check myself a little. If I were to do such a thing to him then wouldn’t I be going back on everything I have ever taught him about boys, and himself? Wouldn’t I be massively hypocritical were I to even think about telling him that for something that comes so natural to him, that it was wrong? I then, in that moment, started to think along the lines of everything I’ve ever written about Alex and myself on here, The Good Men Project, The Huffington Post and a ton of other places. Wouldn’t that prove me to be a sharlatan? A bullshitter that likes what he writes but actually doesn’t believe in any of it?
Yeah, for a insta-moment I had a serious identity crisis, wrapped up between what I know and how I feel. But alas, finally, I let him get on with it. I even laughed and gave him praise for writing such a good card out, reinforcing to him that being his natural self is truly awesome.
You see for me to think like that, my old self had resurfaced for a moment, came to rear his ugly head, my insecure, shadow of self persona that is scared of his own shadow, never mind raw emotion. I didn’t let him out for long though, but it helped me realise a lot of things about me as I thought about it. I let Alex get on with the rest of his cards. All through my life I have been taught that being emotional is wrong, that showing your true feelings for friends and potential intimate partners were a no go. As a very expressive and emotional man I could always feel an undercurrent of emotion just waiting to erupt like krakatoa because it was supressed most of the time. And I’d blow at the craziest of moments.
Do other, or many men go through the same? I wonder?
There has been many instances in my life where I’ve felt like I wanted to hug one of my male friends out of the bond that I’ve felt with them. But only one of them let’s me do it. I had one instance, in the early 2000’s where I was worse for wear with alcohol, and being the emotional person I get when on the beer I went to hug my mate, he was a good guy, I liked him a lot. So I wanted a hug. And jesus was I met with astounded faces. I hadn’t had a girlfriend in years which led my friends to thinking I was homosexual. It’s the usual go to thought process when young lads show the slightest bit of emotion to their other lad friends. And I learned from that experience never to show it again. It was a shame really, because I have a lot to offer emotionally.
But there is one mate that embraces the hugs, and I think as much as I want them he does too, because there is that emotional connection that men need too. No sense denying it, we do and you’d only be lying to yourself if you think otherwise.
I had a friend a few months back, sad, and in despair that his relationship was breaking apart; I offered him a hug, and he was afraid and confused by his primal reaction, that he did hug me, and afterwards he sobbed and cried and let it all out. That’s healthy in my opinion. Really healthy.
And so it’s up to us fathers now to buck a 100+ year trend of shutting ourselves out, detaching ourselves from anything remotely touchy-feely and let that part of ourselves in. Because you should be leading by example as a Dad, and by telling your Son to “Man up” you are basically telling him that the way he feels naturally is not okay, and that’s not healthy. My Dad well and truly made sure I wasn’t ok with my natural self through his crippling insecurity. I won’t be passing this onto my Son, I hope you don’t either.
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