Sunday, November 9, 2014

dear "boy": a letter to my son before his birth

Dear "Boy,"

I would call you by name, but I would have to call you by several, since we only have a shortlist and not a finalist at this point.  Don't worry, we will figure that out before March.

It may seem strange, but I want you to know that I wasn't any happier when I found out you are a boy than I was when I found out your sisters were girls.  The sooner you grow to understand this, the sooner you will understand our family, and the better you will understand the world.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't any less happy to find out that you're a boy.  For me, finding out that your mother was pregnant was always the joyous occasion.  Gender was merely a logistical detail.

Again, don't mistake me, we believe in gender differences in our home, as passe as that might be in our society at this moment.  I will expect different things from you than from your sisters, and I will teach you different things.  In those ways you will be treated differently, but not better (not worse either, usually).

We love the girls in this house.  It started with your mother, who was, is, and will forever be the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Then, your sisters brought joy and love into our lives that has surpassed anything we could have known on our own.

You're joining a family where we look out for these ladies.  They may be physically weaker (that's a very strongly emphasized "may"), but they're each a force to be reckoned with.  Good luck keeping up with Charlotte.  She's more adventurous than your mother and I combined.  And Noie, she's quietly determined.  She may not make much noise, but she's always working a plan.

Our job is not to protect them as though they're delicate waifs who need fainting couches and servants to fan them.  It's to knock down anything that stands between them and the incredible women they are going to become.  In doing so, we will become the men that we are supposed to be.

I say "knock down" mostly metaphorically.  We're a family that strongly prefers words to fists.  But we also believe love is self-sacrificial, and, I reiterate, we love the girls in this house.

You should probably know that some weird things happen here because of them.  Hopefully, you will already be accustomed to random dance parties via in utero indoctrination.  This is entirely your mother's influence, but when you see the joy on your sisters' faces when we dance, you'll understand.  And you'll dance, too.

Since you're going to be smaller than your sisters at first, and Charlotte is a wiz with technology, you're going to be subjected to a lot of My Little Pony, Lalaloopsy, or whatever her ridiculously girly flavor of the week is.  I will do my best to make sure that none of us consume vapid entertainment in this home, but you're probably going to have to deal with the overly-feminine stuff.  Thankfully, my hard work introducing your sisters to dinosaurs, monkeys, tigers, and space has already paid off, and they are well-rounded connoisseurs of children's television.

You'll notice that dad watches a lot of "girly" shows with mom too.  Dad had older sisters too, what can I say?  My hope is that you will use these experiences as an insight into what makes our ladies special and different from us.  They might just make you quicker to use your heart and your words than you might have otherwise been.  When that helps you marry someone way out of your league someday like I did, you can thank me, and your mom and sisters.  Probably Aunt Azina and Aunt Amber too.

We will do lots of "guy stuff" too.  It's mandatory that you like Star Wars and Star Trek, and if you don't, you must pretend to until the day they put me in the ground.  Notre Dame is our football team - it's a long story that I'll explain someday.  Superhero movies are stacking up before you arrive.  We will enjoy the good ones and mock the bad ones (I'm looking at you, Fabio Thor).

The ladies are always invited to share our interests, but I'll make sure that just you and I skip school at least once for opening day of a movie as geek fathers and sons should do.

I'm more creative than athletic, but I'll make sure you don't look like an idiot in gym class.  If you take to sports more than music, writing, or photography, I'll support you, but we're going to have to call Uncle Ravi in to fill in some gaps in my knowledge.  No stupid "sports" like frisbee golf or hacky sack though.  If a stoner can do it, it's just a hobby.

Most importantly, you should know that everything we do is because your mother and I follow Jesus.  I have standards for you and your sisters that will help keep you from wrecking your life, but don't confuse that with following Jesus.  When you fail, and you will fail, it will only show you that you need what your mother and I have but can't give to you.  We hope and pray that our children find the peace, freedom, forgiveness, and joy in Jesus that we have, but it is something you must find yourselves.  We can only guide you to it.

I know that's a lot to take in, but we've probably got at least 18 years to figure it all out.

See you next year.


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