When my son was born, he gave me the dirtiest look as if to say ' was that really necessary, I wasn't ready to be born! I knew he was a special child!
I am the only girl and the youngest of all my brothers, all 4 of them.
Often when I relay this to people, they think I must have been spoilt but life was pretty lonely. There was a big age gap between my eldest brother so I was closer to my youngest brother and we remain to this day. My mum made sure all duties were shared between my brothers and I, but as I grew older, expectations started to shift. I was required to excel at performing being a woman. It was made clear to me there was a certain set of rules for men, and another one for women and I’d better get my cleaning and cooking on fast.
Bringing a boy into the world was simple in that I’d make sure he was going to be an independent person and treat all people equal. He was a happy boy who loved trains, balls and running! He walked at 9 months and once started did not stop, to be free was his mission. He had a speech delay which caused him a lot of frustration but with his determination and perseverance, he is now a chatterbox!
My daughter was born 20 months later after my son so he was surrounded by women most of his early childhood. He had a close relationship to his grandmothers, aunties and his nursery teachers. He was a sensitive child and had a lot of love, constantly cuddling and being protective. I encourage him to show his feelings and to speak what was on his mind. This was to help him with his speech therapy and I suppose I just continued this. He always had his sister close by and did most things together at home at Nursery and Primary school.
He has always had strong female role models in his life, more so than men. His father is very close to him, but he saw his aunties more than his uncles. The influences of the women in his life have shown him an appreciation and respect that perhaps would have turned out differently if more males were present. The women that have cared for him have all treated him with love and respect, being looked after by his grandmothers, his dad, his childminder, his nursery teachers and primary teachers. It's only at primary school that he had his first male teacher.
Peers, social media have all played their part. Discovering what makes you tick to what is right is the challenge and still is for my son. His imagination was fuelled with books and acting out the pleasures and peaceful fantasies that exist in his heart. From Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine to Doctor Who. Creating a world of equality and peace is the foremost goal for him. Shunning away from pain and complexity has proven a side that cannot be ignored. Facing the harsh truths of society is a hard lesson for anyone and some learn sooner than others. I’ve often wondered if I had overprotected him and if I should have exposed him to certain realities earlier.
But he turned out to be a loving respectful man who understands the man’s world women live in and strives for fairness, so I feel like I didn’t do too bad of a job.