Our Joe is such a boy, you know.
And Joe has a little stuffed sheep, he calls him Shawn. He loves to look after Shawn. He dresses him in an old Calgary Flames baby t-shirt that used to be his own, he regularly asks me to put a new diaper on Shawn, he pushes him around the house in a little pink stroller that belongs to Evelynn. When Shawn is hungry, Joe promptly nurses him which always devolves into a fight between him and Anne because “boys don’t have nummers, Joe!”
“My am imagining, Annie! My am the only one who LOOKS AFTER SHAWN.”
Joe adores boys. I am not sure if its because he is an only boy, surrounded by a sea of girl-cousins and sisters, but he loves boys. He yearns for boys. When confronted with a boy, he wants to wrestle like puppies in a kennel. He calls all boys “Friend” and cries with rage when the worker at the drive-thru window at Tim Horton’s is a girl.
But he has a baby and he loves to look after his Shawn.
I am perfectly content with Joe’s nurturing side existing in perfect harmony with his more typically-masculine side. I was raised by a holistic, gentle man and I’m married to another one. Most of the men in my life do not buy into this lame, hyper-masculine stereotype, even though they exhibit strong, typically male characteristics and preferences themselves.
Joe loves to play hockey, make fart noises, and wrestle; he also loves babies, no big deal.
Except other boys aren’t always so cool about stuff like that.
The other day, Joe took Shawn took the library.
He stomped over – he likes to walk like a dinosaur – to a little table of boys. They were all paging through Spiderman books (graphic novels? comics?) and hockey stats books. They were maybe eight years old. Joe marched over, pulled out two little plastic chairs and thumped himself in one, Shawn in the other.
“Hey, friends! Whacha lookin’ at?”
They stared at this little boy in their midst like they’d never seen a preschooler before in their lives. I stifled a laugh. Joe is so oblivious.
“Well, friends, this is my baby! I gots to have a spot for my baby! My baby LOVES books at the li-berry.”
And those awful boys started to laugh at Joe.
In less than a minute, as I crossed the library floor, they pointed at him, they imitated him, they mocked what he said, repeating BABY? HE HAS A BABY! over and over, and then they pointed at his Shawn and delivered the final pronouncement, BOYS DON’T PLAY WITH BABIES.
I swept over to the table with my Angry Eyes on in full force. I icily informed the boys that Joe was only three years old and that they were being unkind to someone much smaller than them. Also? SOME BOYS LIKE BABIES. And that’s okay. Maybe next time, you could be a bit more kind? Thank you, boys. I certainly appreciate it.
They had the grace to look ashamed. I don’t think they were bad boys. I think they are typical boys, trying to figure out boyhood. But still. I am learning to speak into the village a bit more. Joe was unfazed. What can you say? He’s a typical three-year-old boy, completely oblivious. But when he took his Shawn home, he talked glowingly of his friends at the li-berry all afternoon as he raced Shawn around the house at a dead run, screeching to a stop to catapult Shawn out of the baby carriage into the wall.
Being a boy must be so hard.