I am mother of 3, the boys came first, I have always been fierce in that they were allowed to just be, to run naked and wild, to wear nail polish and curling rollers in their hair, to dress up like super heroes or just play with dolls, I didn’t want to gender to ever be an issue, I wanted them to be left to just explore and play, to be kids.
Angel seemed to spend much of his life naked, as soon as he could the clothes would be stripped, flung from one side of the room to the other, in all weathers there he was naked in welly boots, perfect!
Old soul had his moments but always pretty much kept himself to himself, as he grew up he naturally covered himself I don’t ever remember having to tell him to cover up or to stop fiddling, I think he spent more time adding layers than removing them, always dressed for battle, in his chain mail and capes!
The thing that’s bothering me more is the natural childhood exploration of your private parts. When Angel came along, he loved every minute, every sensation, every swing ride, the bumpy car rides, always giggling away because it felt funny! He was a fiddler, I never really had issues, just let him be to discover his own body after all it is his. I did have to put in some boundaries to make sure he was aware that there was a time and place.
Young children masturbate, even babies will hump up and down, it’s a comforting sensation, I always thought I was okay with this stuff, you know more liberal than most, then my daughter came along, I want her to run wild naked and free, I never refuse my kids a chance to strip down, I’m a sucker for a small bare bottom. I want them to have the chance before they grow to feel the wind and rain on their naked bodies, I have no problem with that.
Little Squirrel has discovered her vagina, I showed her how to look at herself with a mirror and explain it’s her private place and when she wants to look it’s best done in private, it’s her vagina and I want her to always have full ownership of her whole body. There are times though, times when she’s rolling and splaying her legs, and to put it bluntly have a good old fiddle! It’s only natural and she’s simply being 3, yet I feel my stomach tighten in a way it never did with the boys, I frustrate myself that I feel this way and ponder upon why, but I know what it is, she is more vulnerable, she is female, not less strong, or less able but she is more vulnerable to predators and this actually brings a slightly sickly feeling into my mouth. I’d never really considered it before. I want my children to be treated as equal, for my boys to be gentle and full of emotion but at the same time capable, independent and full of self-worth, I want the exact same for my girl, though I wouldn’t exactly say my fairy tale is playing out that way, but I am awake enough to know life has its own ideas, getting attached to a fairy story can be dangerous, but the stories of myth and legend well those are beautiful lessons we can learn from.
For the first time teaching my children the reality of life in terms they can understand is at the top of my priority list. Not ‘the school of hard knocks style’ but embracing life in all its realness, allowing them to feel, explore, be scared but with strength. No one should have to be scared it’s true, but were fighting the monsters together, not pretending they don’t exist. To me keeping their eyes wide open to reality is the truest preparation for ‘real’ life they can have.
For the first time it hit me, it’s different, of course it’s different, I feel mad, mad that my girl will be looked or leered at some time in her life by a predatory male, she will not be as safe as the boys to walk home alone after a drunken party, she will not be safe to be drunk at a party, she will always be taking a chance, she may be taken advantage of from her teens up, there will be boys who will feel they have a god given right to pinch and grab her, maybe look up her skirt, tease her, even pull at her shirt, make her feel uncomfortable and awkward, she will learn that this is normal that’s what boys do, maybe if she stands up for her-self she will be jeered at, maybe next time she won’t be so outspoken, maybe be next time she won’t be so lucky. Will I be able to protect her, not always, she will have to make her own way.
I am furious for her, I have spoken to her father about these things, sent him articles, I always remember being brushed off like I had issues and it wasn’t a problem, but really it is, and that attitude is what needs to change. At 3 I have started to read her story books on the ‘right touch’, to teach her about her body young. We will read Boudicca not Cinderella. I think one thing we can do for girls is teach them ownership of their own bodies and do it from birth. I wish for her boundaries to be firm and for her to be full of self-love.
And now it is my job to show my boys how to be real men, I don’t really have that right, as a female I’m not the best model, but I will do my best to bring up wide awake gentle men.
Is there a case for raising feminist boys? I have found many articles on this subject but mostly written by women, I stumbled across this one, written by a father trying to raise his boys with awareness. http://www.daddyfiles.com/raising-feminist-boys/