I sometimes wonder if I’m doing a good enough job raising Gideon to be a man. I mean, he spends most of his time in the shadow of two older sisters dressing dolls and having tea parties all afternoon. And the three of them follow their mother around for most of the day, discussing flowers and how to make candles and treat sick animals. The amount of time that I get to spend with him is insignificant to this much greater feminine influence.
And then when I AM around, it’s, you know, me. And I am not exactly the epitome of manliness. Heaven knows I would rather teach my boy how to bandage a rabbit than attempt to take one apart. It’s just not in my nature. So where is my gravity to influence the boy to be a boy? Will he grow in this flowering garden of beauty and soft perfumes to learn how to be a strong pillar of confidence and strange masculine energy?
I struggle with this thought sometimes. And I was struggling with this thought this morning when I was woken up by his sweet face bending over me in my bed. He pat my cheek softly and when he saw me open my eyes he smiled and said, “I love you, Daddy.” And I gave him a deep hug and a kiss on the cheek and told him I loved him back.
But was this a manly way to wake up your father? Probably. Especially for a four-year-old, I guess. But still, I narrowed my eyes and watched him closely as he stepped backward and gave me a thumbs up.
Then I sighed a little and blinked slowly. “Gideon…”
“Gideon, your underwear is on backward.”
He looked down at his underpants and smiled shyly, “Oh… Right…” He disappeared behind my nightstand for a moment, and I saw his toes stick out from around the corner as he crouched down.
“I see,” he said. “There’s a tag. And the hole parts go… there…”
He seemed distracted.
“What’s wrong boy?” I asked.
He suddenly gasped in excitement. “I know what this is!”
He had found something on the floor under my nightstand.
“This is his arm!”
His hand shot into view holding a small plastic arm. “It’s Batman’s arm! Me been looking for this!”
“Oh. Neat.” I shifted on the bed so I could see the top of his head.
He was flying the little arm around in the air like a plane. “Now him can fight CRIME!”
“Yes yes,” I said quickly. “Him can… I mean he can fight crime, just Gideon-”
He lept to his feet and did a lap or two around the room with the arm, “Me go put his arm back on. Right. Now!” He launched himself out the door.
“No! Wait, Gideon!” I called.
He was already halfway down the stairs before I heard him pivot on his heels and come crashing back into the hallway. His head stuck through a crack in the door.
“Hi,” I said calmly.
“Hi,” he said back, showing me Batman’s arm again in case I hadn’t seen it yet.
“Yes, I know. Batman. But aren’t you forgetting something?”
He didn’t move. “No. Me not think so.”
“Gideon…” I pointed down at the floor where his underwear was still sitting in a small pile.
“Oh,” he shrugged. “Yeah. Umm… Me not know how to figure those out right now. Maybe me come back later after fixing Batman. Then me can figure those out.” He gave me another thumbs up and then vanished from the doorway again.
I rolled over onto my back and smiled up at the ceiling. Maybe the little man was going to be alright after all.