Why Bother Thinking About The Male Perspective?

Why Bother Thinking About The Male Perspective?

One of my students favorite events at school are the student-led conferences. It is the only time the child gets to show their parents just how their day is spent at day. 

This last week, my students prepared for these meetings. On Monday they made lists of what they wanted to show; a clean desk, a poem written in cursive, two essays, the graph showing their percentages for spelling tests, as well as a math test. Tuesday and Wednesday they completed essays, wrote poems in cursive and cleaned out their desks of old papers. Thursday was showtime.

                             Watching From a Distance

Since the conferences are student-led, I stay on the sidelines, filing papers, making lesson plans and watching from a distance as my students lead another adult around the classroom.

 Not every child has a parent to bring to their conference. A great grandmother, hunched and walking with a cane shook my hand. “I don’t believe I’ve met you,” she said, taking my hand in her soft and arthritic one. “Is this your first year teaching here?” I assured her I’d been teaching fourth grade for a while at the school, but it was my first year teaching her great-granddaughter.  

Other times, a student’s whole family attends. When J.’s family, mom, dad and three younger siblings came into the classroom, I watched and listened as his mom praised his work. But J.’s eyes were on his dad. J. had rewritten his essay four times that week for the A+ he he finally gained and now I knew why. J.’s eyes were on his dad as his dad read the essay he’d worked so hard to perfect.  When his dad gave the nod of approval, J. let out the breath he’d been holding. 

I also have single parents. A., an only child from a divorced home, practically ran into the classroom dragging his dad to his desk. I watched as his dad, a large man, settled himself into his son’s chair. Then A. proceeded to show his dad everything he’d done that week and more. I could hear bits and pieces of the conversation between the father and son and A.’s face glowed with pride as his father turned the pages of different notebooks that A. showed him. 

When they’d finished, A.’s dad, sent him outside to play and conferenced with me about the child custody battle he was having. I listened, my heart sad and hopeful at the same time. 

“I’m going to talk with A. tonight, but I just want you to know that I am asking the judge for full custody and that if you see any change in his behavior, it may be associated with what is going on at home.”

“Well, I just want you to know how well he is doing. The other day, I teared up just watching how concentrated his focus was on getting his work done so he could show you.” I hadn’t  expected to tear up in front of A.’s dad, yet I couldn’t hold back the emotions.

“Well, that is good to hear. I am trying to be really intentional with the time I spend with him. I’m learning to balance between being the authoritarian and the nurturer in his life.” 

“Well, it looks to me like what you are doing is working.” 

After they left, the classroom was empty and I pondered while noticing kids on the playground, their dad’s nearby if needed. It seems that a son can win the approval of his mother easier than that of his father’s and yet, it is the father’s that he wants so badly.  

Why bother thinking about the male’s perspective? Though a father’s admiration is harder to gain, sons seem to understand that and know that it is worth the work to gain it.

Why Bother to Note The Discrepancies?

Why Bother to Note The Discrepancies?

When Jacob, our first son was born, my husband and I were younger than when our last child came along, eight years later. But there were other variations in parenting our sons than just that we grew older. With Jacob, we lived off the grid and in the woods. Not so with the other two. By then we lived in town with all the conveniences and diversions.  

I can’t say that these disparities in our parenting created inequalities between Jacob and his brothers, or even if they had any profound and lasting effects on them. I just know that from the same set of parents variances will exist among the siblings. But perhaps that has more to do with the parents than with the order in which children are born. 

The First Born

To begin with, only the first born child gets first time parents, that is to say, the parents who are new to the job and nervous as all hell. My doc noted my slightly elevated blood pressure with each of my prenatal visits. But with great wisdom and understanding he simply reassured me that every mother starts motherhood as a first time mom. It’s a wonder that first born children survive their first time parents.

Even before Jacob was born though, I knew I wanted to nurse him like all the other groovy and organic moms I admired. But I had my share of troubles when I tried. Then, talking with a friend about my dilemma, she recommended I drink a half a glass of beer before nursing to help me relax just a smidgen. Magically, it worked. My milk went from a trickle to a geyser.  

Unfortunately, I didn’t need that half a glass of beer with my other two. By then I could vacuum the living room, stir a pot of soup and talk on the phone while nursing a baby. 

When Jacob was our one and only child, I was a fully devoted stay at home mom, and motherhood was my career. On most days, he got most of my undivided attention and I savored those hours we gazed into one another’s eyes. He’d mimic my cooing or did I imitate his? Either way, he held my attention for great lengths of time with his blue eyes.

When Samuel and then later Jordan came along, my career was no longer zeroed in on motherhood. My time for sitting and gazing into their (were they blue or green) eyes, became abbreviated glances. Life had somehow gotten busier, pulling me in more than one direction.

Outhouse or Cheerios

 When it was time to potty train Jacob, he went from a potty chair to the outhouse. But he showed no fear. He’d amble out the door, cross the driveway and climb up to do his business. A skill that perhaps built a unique character trait in him. 

His brothers, on the other hand, aimed and fired at Cheerios that I plopped into the toilet bowl. This also required a special skill; one of aiming with accuracy which made them unique from their first born brother. 

 Neither  Samuel nor Jordan grew up in the glow of soft kerosene lamps. They did not learn to crawl across a braided rug or hear the crackle from a fire in a wood burning stove. And they missed out on viewing the woods from the seat of an outhouse. But neither did the second and last born get the first time version of their mother. Only the first born gets that particular rendition.

Why bother to point out the discrepancies with offspring? It is worth noting that parents do not and cannot remain the same for each one, it’s that we remain for all of them that matters most.