Today I am concerned, disappointed, sad.
I was talking to an older woman the other day, I won’t say where or who she was, but what she said has really disturbed me. I do not know her well, and now I have no plans to speak with her again, particularly not in the presence of my children.
We were sitting amongst a group of people, (children and adults) and as it is Archie’s birthday this weekend, I was setting out a cake for them all to share and celebrate. I was lighting the candles, and Eli (my 2 year old sitting next to Arch) was trying to sneak the m&ms off the top of the cake. Okay, that’s not a desirable behavior by any means, but come on, what kid within reaching distance wouldn’t give it a go? Anyway, she started with a comment about Eli and how he was nicking the lollies from the top of the cake. This was directed at myself. Harmless, I laughed it off.
She then went on to tell her granddaughter, loud enough for everyone to hear, that “boys are always naughty, never do what they are asked to do and are always getting into trouble. They can’t help it.” She explained to her little granddaughter. “Boys” She spitefully laughed at this, and then shaking her head “Always getting into mischief, they are just trouble, trouble, trouble!” I looked at her little granddaughter, quietly sitting on her lap. Listening intently to what her beloved grandmother was saying, nodding along, taking it all in. She then directed her statements at some of the surrounding women, I missed the exact wording but I’m pretty sure the words “Destructive”, “Awful” and “Creatures” formed part of her next rant.
Shock! What the hell do I say to that? Nothing,… I said nothing. I zipped my lips as all those sayings my parents sprouted at me as a child started rolling down my vision. “Don’t bother with people who don’t deserve your bother.” You know,…. all those sayings. It’s been bugging me, not only what she said, but the way it was said. Everything she said was dripping with spite, contempt and disgust.
I couldn’t look at her, but I’m sure my eyes were wide with shock as I got on with letting my little boy enjoy his birthday cake. Couldn’t she have just let him be sung his song, blow out the candles and enjoy the bloody cake, without having a dig at him, and every other boy in that room?
Her words hurt me, more than she knew at the time, and more than she will ever know. In her opinion her words were not only true, but FACT and INDISPUTABLE. She was drawing a very hard line in the sand. Boys = Bad, Girls = Good.
I’ve had this on my mind for a long time, as this is just one of many, many times something like this has been said to me.”He’s just a boy” “Boys hey? Dirty little things.” “You’ve got your hands full”, “3 boys. No wonder you’re not fat.” “That’s just what boys do.” “Boys are slower than girls.” “Noisy, Loud, Naughty.” “Menace.” Most are said in jest, some are not.
As a mother of 3 boys I am saddened by the seemingly common, negative perception of male children within the community, particularly coming from older women in the 50 – 80 age groups. I know that the majority of women in this group do not think like this, and that it is just a few who do. But it is far too common for my liking, I wish I could help them to see how very wrong they are, how much damage they could do.
What choice does a boy have growing up with the influence of these women? He has no choice, he will become what he is told he is. “Trouble, mischief, naughty. He can’t help it.” If you tell someone often enough….
Is this what the little girl sitting on her grandmothers lap, listening to her words, will grow up to believe? That boys are bad, then eventually that men are bad. For her sake I sincerely hope not.
As for the woman whose words have encouraged this post, I wonder about her. I pity her. I am glad she is not my mother or my mother in law. Where did this venom for boys come from? Why did she think ‘I’ needed to hear this? She is missing out on so much joy by being tainted with her hate. She is so wrong. Has she never known the beauty of laying a little boy to bed, tucking him under his blue blanket and watching him doze? Has she never rocked a little baby dressed in blue, held him to her breast and dreamed a dream of hope and pride for him? Has she never known the gentle touch of a man, sensitive and kind, who possesses the strength of two of her? The sense of security he provides her just by being there?
I’ll continue to tell my boys that they are clever, handsome, funny and make me smile. I’ll keep telling them that they CAN achieve and succeed. I’ll keep telling them that they can be themselves and to be happy with who they are. I’ll keep telling them that they are strong, and I’ll keep encouraging them to be gentle and kind.
I don’t see my job as looking after naughty boys, or putting up with their awfulness, like this woman has insinuated. I am in love with three little people, they are all boys, and I am doing the best I can to raise them to be good men.
Woman, with the closed mind, you are so wrong and I pity you.