This is going to have very little to do with running, I suspect, but I'm more Mama than Marathon these days, so there you have it.
I want to make a good man. I have this fantastic little boy who I more or less live for, but I'm thinking lately that to make him into a good man will take some hard work. I'm a Freudian at heart, so of course all of my maternal anxiety stems from my kid's bathroom antics. Here's what happened...
Henry, like many little boys, has had a long process of gaining independence in the bathroom. We started potty training when he was not yet 3, and almost 2 years later, I find myself still in there with him, facilitating the event. I can't get the boy to pee standing up, and he usually wants my company the whole time, typically uttering "I love you" mid-BM. Hysterically weird, no?
I recently decided that the boy will never take the initiative to be self-sufficient as an adult if he cannot wipe his own bum when he's four. So I told him that he has to start doing it himself.
Me: Pumpkin, you need to wipe yourself. I shouldn't be doing it for you.
Henry: But it's disgusting! I don't want to touch my poop! You do it!
Me: Do you think I want to touch your poop?! You need to wipe your own ass, Henry!
It's true. I said that exact thing, including the "ass" bit. My potty mouth (pun intended) had less to do with his ridiculous sultan act and more to do with my panic about the man I'm creating, a person who expects to be cared for in such a way that he feels entitled to have someone else wipe his own ass--literally or metaphorically. I'm fairly certain that Emerson wasn't referring to this scenario in Self-Reliance, but he had a bevy of women enabling his independent life, so one has to wonder.
I know men are screwed in this world. The tough guy who can't cry is no better off than the sensitive man who loves a good Meg Ryan movie. It's a double bind, for sure. So what's a modern mom to do? I want to make a solid, kind, self-sufficient person without leaving Henry to his own devices to figure out his own independence. Devices that would amount to rotten teeth from lack of my brushing them, a seriously neglected butt from lack of my wiping it, and cold feet because I didn't put his socks on for him.
His being an only child doesn't help matters because he's got two parents to cater to him. Coddling my son into an expectation that he'll always have someone to fetch him a drink--whether a juice box or a beer--is not the way to make a man. But training him into independence wears me down with all the stomping and whining and crying. And Henry doesn't handle it well, either.
So we go about life, and we've arranged for us both to wipe his ass right now. Even though neither of us is satisfied with this arrangement. When I think of the person I want him to become, I can't believe that I have to start with "wipes own ass." But if it's a metaphor for a man who can take care of himself, I guess I'll go with it. Perhaps next time we fight about it, I'll quote Emerson instead of using the word "ass":
Henry, wipe your bum because "nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."