My son can eat. A lot. And if you catch him on a particularly ravenous day he looks less like toddler and more like a grown man training for the NFL. Or so hopes my husband. Also, he’ll eat just about anything. That means apples, quinoa, green juice, smoothies and he doesn’t shy away from vegetables like other kids his age. What’s his favorite, you ask? Toast.
But not just any toast— ‘Daddy toast’.
Every morning he watches my husband make an english muffin and insists on having the same. I have to admit, it’s pretty cute. Sticky jelly-fingers and all. However, he has now started mimicking some of my husbands other behavior. Whether it’s putting on deodorant, saying things like “Sup dude?”, or giving me a goodbye kiss at the door— he’ll do it. And as much as I love getting my sloppy morning toddler kisses, this got me thinking. If he insists on doing all things Daddy, then Daddy had better do things right.
My husband has always been helpful around the house. Granted, like most men, he needs some direction here and there. But after seeing my son’s Monkey See, Monkey Do routine— I realized I need more. Not only is our marriage modeling the definition of a healthy relationship for our son, we are defining the roles in which men and women play in that relationship. Of course, I want my son to see my husband be strong, courageous, and work hard. But I also need my son to see him cook dinner, do the laundry, and be vulnerable. Why? Because we aren’t just raising a child. We are raising someones future friend, employee, husband, and father.
And, yes, probably a defensive lineman.
As a Mom to a little boy in the midst of the #MeToo movement, I’m nervous. I know it’s more important than ever that my son understands the significance of being respectful, honest and kind. That he knows how to communicate with and appreciate women. Sure, he’s little now and we’re busy teaching him to be nice to his sister and how to aim into the potty. But one day, not too far off, this little boy who hopefully gets his aim right, will be in the world making big decisions that reflect his upbringing. That reflect us.
Unlike the sticky jelly-fingerprints I find all over the house, the daily lessons we teach them become behaviors that can’t easily be washed away. That’s why this parenting gig is such a big deal and why I’m grateful to have a partner that takes direction. With maybe just a little bit of nagging. Ok, a lot. And who knows, down the road when my son is in the kitchen making toast with his own kids, maybe he will remember a few of those lessons— that no means no, it’s OK to cry, separate the laundry before washing, and to always give Mommy a goodbye kiss.