No matter how much I may preach equality in my home, there are differences in bringing up sons and daughters. Not that they all weren’t given equal exposure to everything, from toys to activities. There were no boy toys or girl toys in my house, and my daughter refused to wear dresses early on, so we had tons of mini Renaissance Festivals staged, epic croquet matches involving 3 full sets and all of the neighborhood kids, and parties with inflatable pools galore. And yet when the teen years hit, I watched the changes with amusement as my children started emerging from their cocoons and spreading the colorful wings of their identities. And I tweaked my rules for each gender just a bit, because I knew there was no way the boys were going to even consider tattoos or piercings. C'mon. They hate needles.
To my sons:
- You will remember that women are your equals and rock solid strong. Your mother played rugby. I will hurt you. And nothing dissolves your street cred like being beaten up in public by a middle aged woman.
- Never forget that there’s nothing wrong with crying if you feel it.
- Always kiss your mother. You mean more to me than life, and I will always be your best friend and your biggest fan.
- Be honest with me about everything. I trust you; after all, I raised you, and I should trust myself. But sometimes your decisions may need some guidance. I will listen with an open mind, and we’ll see what sounds right for you. I will not talk you out of it, however. The life I gave you is yours to live.
- You both have autism. This means nothing. You process differently. I still expect good grades, graduation, and college. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to, and if you want to do it, we’ll find a way together. Except for riding a bike. You both suck at that evidently, but I'll swap that out for the straight A's in math any day.
- Let’s do things together, one on one. Let me teach you how to bake a cake and take up a floor. Let’s mount a shelf and reupholster a chair. Then let’s sit down and look at your artwork. Tell me about the girl you have a crush on. Let’s watch a favorite movie. And hold my hand while we do. I won't tell anyone.
- Bring your friends over. We’ll make nachos and play video games while I get to know the people influencing your life. I like you hanging out on the sectional sofa. It's like anthropology class all over again. Bonus points if I meet their parents.
- I also support your dreams. You can grow up to be anything you want; you’re both artistic and amazingly talented. Design your futures any way you wish, and your mother will be there to cheer you on. And break the doors down to open them.
- Tell me what you love. Share your passions and interests. Let’s crank the Gorillaz while we do the dishes, and listen to Michael Franks while we have dinner. What book are you reading? Whose art style are you emulating? What project are you tackling next? Intrigue me. I'll listen.
- Remember that you are my son. You are amazing and magical. I am humbled that God trusted me with you. I know you are capable of great things, because you have shown them to me in who you are now. Go out and make me proud. And rock the world.