This is going to ramble a bit and I think this reads a little disjointed but I’ll leave it anyway: the short of it: having a guy’s weekend with my son is important to a lifelong bond I want to create with him and to teach him how to be a man in today’s world.
In less than two weeks, we’re doing our second annual “guys weekend” with a friend of mine and our 4 and 5 year old sons. Growing up, my father passed along a number of “man” skills such as throwing a ball, how to change oil and how to catch a fish, but rarely spent much 1:1 time with me and my two brothers. It was almost all entirely mom or family time. My father is a good man, but one I don’t necessarily want to emulate and one who I don’t exactly have a strong relationship with. Let’s just say we don’t talk about deep feelings or anything below the surface in my family.
Because of that, I want to create a different relationship with my own son. I’ll be honest in that I think he’s sort of a momma’s boy. He’s small for his age and isn’t super confident. He’s more sensitive and smart than he is a huge social, outgoing presence. But he does like “guy time”, which means playing legos, teaching him how to bike and in-line skate and rough-housing (I’m hoping he takes after me and finds a passion with wresting or martial arts). Last year, to start to build a tradition where we could separate from the women (mom and his sister), even for just a short while, we went camping. This tradition, in some form, will continue this year and into the future. Right now it’s mostly about playing with fire, getting outside and being given a longer leash than normal, and poop and fart jokes. Later it will be more of the same but more discussion on being a man.
Growing up, I never spent any time away on the weekends doing cool stuff with my father. He didn’t hunt. He didn’t do fishing trips. He worked and we did family trips. The one “guy” trip I went on was with my brothers and was to my uncle’s hunting camp. It was during the summer and was at their hunting trailer where we spent the day. We shot guns, looked at nudey magazines/calendars and my brother had his first tobacco dip, where he subsequently got sick. I was probably 13 years old or so. Good times. I don’t want my son’s only men experience to be what I went through. Doing things with just me and other men and boys is something that I think is very important in developing a sense of what manhood is about, without the compromises we make in the company of women.
Many traditions have been written about a boy’s right of passage into manhood. He needs men to emulate and teach him to be a man. I’m lucky that my father (to some degree), FIL, and brothers-in-law (not so much my own brothers, though they have their moments…don’t really want to get into it right now) have some insights into being a man, and all bring different things to the table. But it all starts from within the circle… from the dad. I need to start with the red pill wisdom especially with this one. He’s got both some gifts and some deficiencies as a person, like we all do. LoudBoy is very sweet, funny, playful and rambunctious but is not a physical presence, is shy, still cries a lot, and takes things too seriously. With some time spent with the attention away from the females, I’m hoping to A) be able to create a lasting and close male bond with him by spending a womanless weekend a year just doing guy things with his undivided attention and B) start to impart world knowledge that I hope will temper some of the woman-centric feminist teachings that occur in school and child-care provider environments.
I realize I’ll never be a perfect father and this time in my life is as calm as it’s going to get (which is still fairly wavy in my life, but at least my kids at 5 and 7 have little drama about them, only standard growing up fare). But like most parents, I want to create a better situation than what my own family provided. Countless divorced fathers don’t have the relationship they want with their children despite 1 on 1 weekends; and countless married fathers don’t either, despite the little league coach and whatnot. It’s about quality time, not quantity time. For me, sometimes I feel like my boy (again, he’s all of five going on six) prefers his mom and I’m the one shut out from the center; and I need to fight and claw my way to stay even with her for attention and affection. I don’t need to do that with my daughter; we have a special bond. But with my son, it seems like it always takes a little more effort.
Despite the love we feel for all our kids, I really think, if we’re honest with ourselves, that we have a favorite. What that means to me is that we’re wired similarly and our bond takes less effort than it does with the other siblings. Birdsnest and I are both calmish book nerds with a more serious demeanor and Loudboy and Holly are more rambunctious sarcastic shits. Because of that, we bond accordingly, and for me to get closer to my son I need to relax some more of who I am so I can meet LoudBoy in the middle… which is really hard some time. I was ready to hog-tie him on Saturday (like, if I had one nerve left, he would have been on it).
Spending some time without the estrogen really does allow us to bond. I love the guy and he’s growing into a wonderful person, but I miss that on a regular basis due to all the other obligations that we have to deal with. Sometimes you just need to remove the extraneous to see the beauty and wonder on a smaller scale. He’s already talking about “guy’s weekend” 10 days out and the cool stuff we’re going to do. It’s only cool because we’re doing it together, not because of what we’re doing. By the way, Holly and I think he’s another “dog whisperer” but that’s a post for another day…