My children were born after my high school and university friends’ were. When I visit my old stomping grounds, I get a small glimpse into my future when I get the reports of what their sons and daughters are doing. They nearly all have a daughter and a son, and I wonder how normal is that? My parents had two sons, but my first cousins on both sides are each a brother and a sister. In this generation the trend is daughter first then son, while in the previous it was reversed. What’s up with that? I know that humans naturally look for patterns were none exist, but this generation’s trend is nearly universal (my cousin, two families from high school, and two from university are all older daugher/younger son with another high school family with one son only being the outlier).
While Maya and Sam are still very young (neither not in Kindergarten yet), some of my friends’ kids are moving into those tween/early teen years. Puberty, coaching soccer, school trips without parents, sleepover camps, playing in the band at a school game, with dating lurking just over the horizon. This is where everyone else is at. The other pitfalls are out there too, good versus dumb coaches, good versus dumb teachers, bullies. Attitude, hormones.
It also makes me realize that I have a different set of fears for each of my children, and that is not unusual. As much as we want to treat boys and girls the same, we often don’t. The dangers each will face are in many ways the same, but in a few, and sometimes significant cases, they will not be. I work at a university that recently received a serious threat, one that was aimed primarily at Asian and Asian American women students, and it plays into the singular fears I have for Maya’s future and contrasts with the different set of fears that I have for Sam’s future. What to do about those fears is the question. Without a doubt, my biggest job is to, with Becky, create a home–a place of safety–that is equally welcoming for both of my children, and eventually, God willing, for grandchildren. I shouldn’t nurse fears unnecessarily in either child, but I shouldn’t leave them unprepared for the dangers that I know live out there. I must communicate effectively at each stage of their lives, where they are and when they need it.
One of my friends with an 8th grade daughter told me that he has a leather notebook that he have her. She can write anything she wants to in it and leave it on his bed. It can be something she wants to talk about with him or something that she just wants to tell him with him saying nothing in response. When he is done, either reading or answering her, he places the notebook back on her bed. It is the private way they communicate with each other, minus her mother, minus her brother. And it works for them.
I like this idea. Maybe in a few years, I’ll look for one for my children too.