single mom

Raising Boys

Perhaps it’s related to the fact that there are a couple of slightly older boys in F’s preschool class, but my darling boy has officially decided that he can no longer sit down to pee. I’d be completely unbothered by the whole thing, but F has also decided that he needs me to show him how and without giving you a mental picture of what that attempt at a teachable moment looked like, I can tell you it’s not going to happen.

It’s moments like these that I find myself especially frustrated with our situation. As if being a single parent isn’t hard enough by itself, the simple fact is that boys and girls sometimes need an older member of the same sex to show them things. I can’t imagine how awkward it would have been to ask my father feminine questions growing up. Actually, I can but I think it would have led ol’ Papa Bear to a stroke so I’m especially glad I didn’t have to get into bras and tampons and all that jazz. Standing up to pee is pretty small on the list of things that F will need help with in his life, but it felt as big as a mountain when he asked me to do it.

By gently explaining that boys and girls are built differently, I managed to help him understand that I cannot show him but I said I’d be there if he needed some help. I asked what he thought he should do, and he managed OK except that he missed the toilet and somehow managed to pee on everything else in my bathroom. But, we celebrate the small victories here, too, so with a change of his clothes and a quick trip to the laundry room with my bath mats, we were ready to try again. And try again we did, with much more success and better aim. (Hooray!)

The challenges in raising a little boy as a bit of a girlie girl are just beginning, and I know that. I feel especially fortunate that F’s preschool class has a male teacher – a positive male role model who he can learn from and hopefully turn to. I’m lucky to have a group of male friends who I can turn to for advice when needed, and I’m lucky in that the boy stuff is less gruesome than the girl stuff as things move forward from here.

But, challenges lie in being a single mum with a boy in other ways. It’s the moments when I need a few moments to do chick stuff that F is convinced that he desperately needs to be beside me. It’s as I change my clothes or put on a bra or he asks why girls have to sit down to pee that I realize we might be hitting the age where F and I just can’t do those things together, and it’s tricky. I can’t lock the bathroom door when I head into the shower. I can’t tell him to wait outside the stall as I use a public washroom. I also have to gently explain that no, he cannot paint his nails when Mommy does. It’s a learning curve. (And sometimes I let him have non-shiny clear polish on his toes, just because.)

Yesterday’s pee-splosion all over my bathroom taught me that, although it might get messy, letting F take the reins and taking a step or two back is the only way we can make it through some things. It’s really hard to accept that F and I might be coming to the end of our baths together. Pretty soon, I’ll even have to put my foot down over the whole co-sleeping thing, too. But there are some things we can’t avoid, so we’ll have to learn how to make them work.

And make them work, we will.

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