lacking archetypal qualities

I know “they say” you can’t catch-up on sleep. But Monday’s lack of writing is because I tried to do just that. Went to bed around 9pm on Sunday (hence no blog) and had one wonderfully blissful sleep where I awakened a couple times to revel in how rested I was feeling.  Perfect sleep.

In just over a week Sharaun and I find out the sex of the little life currently steeping in her womb. And although it sure felt like it was a long-time coming, the pregnancy has, so far, been speeding by in a month-by-month blur. Sharaun’s been feeling mostly well, a few bouts with migraines (she suffered from this with Keaton as well) and an overall malaise at points, but by and large she’s been top-shape. With her condition in good shape our brains are free to wander: dreaming up names for both boys and girls, contemplating how to best deal with the space constraints of our current house once the baby is here, and generally trying to remember what it’s like to have an infant (funny how fast we forget).

When asked, over the past few years spent “trying” for number-two, what I “wanted,” I always responded “a boy!” Which is true, really… I always have wanted a boy… for a bunch of different reasons. Now that the time is near, however, I find my feelings on the matter a bit less simple. Sure I’d still like a boy for all sorts of reasons – carrying on the family name, father/son bonding, Star Wars, etc., – but some part of me is a little more nervous about it than before. I mean, I know how to do girls… I’ve done girls already. A boy is a whole other thing, and there are some things about that thing that truly inspire some sort of nervous fear within me.

For instance, as a man I feel there’s an increased potential for me to “mess up” a boy. I mean, young men look to the older male role models in their life for guidance and to pattern their behavior (consciously or not). I know young girls are equally shaped by their fathers, but the “weight” of my role as a father to a boy seems greater than that of a girl.

Maybe this is because I feel like, at some point in Keaton’s life, what she’s going through will become foreign to me. I never got my first period or had a crush on a boy or grew boobs or needed to shave my legs before I was allowed. I simply cannot relate to those experiences, and that’s where Sharaun will step in and become a trusted companion. I hope to still be there and still be important, but I can’t play like I can relate.

On the other hand I know firsthand what it’s like to get your first wet-dream while spending the night at a friend’s house. I’m well-versed in the spontaneous erections of middle school and know the conflicting feelings that swirl as you’re cheered on by friends to drink that that first beer or smoke that first cigarette. I know the tension before a first kiss and the teenage gravity of “being cool.”

Yes, to these things, I can relate. And because of that I feel like I may be more “relevant” to a boy in those key adolescent years than I might be to a girl. This could be wrong, but it’s something I think about. If I give bad guidance to, set a bad example for, or simply can’t relate correctly to my kids (girl or boy) it can have a big impact. Something in me feels this responsibility more keenly when it comes to raising a boy, however. Maybe this is a fleeting thing… something brought about by the anticipation of the unknown. I guess I won’t know until we find out; or maybe until each kid is a teenager; or until they’re grown and are proven adults; or maybe never.

What’s funny is I feel increased responsibility not only because I might be able to relate to a boy a little better, but also because I’m scared there are some “traditional” boyhood things to which I won’t relate well at all. Let me explain: This past weekend I was talking to a buddy of mine and he was telling me how he’s teaching his kid to swing a bat. His son is five. He explained to me, expecting recognition in my eyes, “You know I tell him to drop his elbows, get his feet right, bend his knees, and swing with his belly button.” I nod, not because I understand but because the logic sounds fine to me. I have no idea how to swing a bat, so these tips sound fair. In the same conversation my confidence was further shaken as he got into how to kick a football.

I just don’t know how to do those things. What does the secondary do? What’s a pivot foot? How do you throw a curveball? Wood or iron? Where should the sweeper be? I have no idea. “So what?,” you may be tempted to say. Yeah, I know… so what. Say it’s silly if you will, I would too… but it’s something I think about. I won’t be the little league co-coach for my son’s team, won’t be much good pitching around with him or setting him up with practice grounders or pop-ups. Where should you be if the other team’s in the paint? I don’t know. I can’t help you there. Who played slide on Cowboy’s 1971 album? Oh no worries, everyone knows that was the incomparable Duane Allman.

So yeah, part of me is worried I’ll stink at some archetypal dad stuff more with a boy than I would with a girl.  I tell myself not everyone can be good at everything, and that I won’t be able to teach my kid much about Eskimo folklore either… but it doesn’t help much.

Yes I still want a boy, but both Sharaun and I are convinced we’re gonna get another girl because of it!


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