A boy to balance out our little family: one of each.
Greta was five when he was born, and I naively thought I had the "girl thing" down pat.
But a BOY? It seemed so foreign to me even though Greta was tomboy-ish; she loved dinosaurs and reptiles and fishing and getting muddy. She never played with dolls, preferring instead to make up elaborate imaginary games with her Littlest Pet Shops. Eschewing Polly Pockets and Barbies, she would play vet, or draw pictures bursting with color and story. I never ceased to wonder at the power of her imagination.
Would a boy be different? Would we be up to our ears in Legos, trains and toy cars? Would our long afternoons coloring and reading be replaced with building robots and smashing things into bits?
It turns out Finn, just like Greta, defied stereotype. Thank God. He is a complex, nuanced little character, full of sharp edges and puffy-heart kindness.
We dutifully purchased a train set, and gratefully accepted armloads of hand-me-down Legos. They sat in the play room gathering dust for years before I realized they weren't ever going to be played with. Christmas stockings brought Matchbox cars and action figures that were half-heartedly played with for one afternoon before being discarded.
It took a while to realize the stereotypes of what girls and boys are supposed to love is grossly, even insultingly, simplified.
Finn loves science kits - the grosser the better. He wants to be an artist when he grows up, and spends hours doodling, his tongue sticking out in concentration. He plays dress up - sometimes in Star Wars costumes, sometimes in Greta's old princess dresses. It never makes any difference to him.
He's pig-headed, as stubborn as the day is long. Try to correct or criticize him and you're in for a dissertation about all the reasons you're wrong. When the storm clouds part, he will curl up in your lap like he's still tiny, nuzzle his face into your neck and tell you he loves you.
He wears his heart on his sleeve, this kid. Cruelty of any kind effects him deeply. He loves playing with girls, he says, because they don't "try to be right all the time". I refrain from explaining the concept of irony to him.
He loves gleefully, passionately and with reckless abandon. He's never embarrassed by grand displays of affection. I try not to dread the day this quality disappears. Maybe it won't, but I worry it will be pushed down under layers of teenage cool-ness or angst.
He received a little spiral bound notebook as a gift recently, and announced he was going to keep a journal. He dutifully wrote in it the first night: "this weekend I went skiing at Loon and I had a good time". After studying his handiwork, he ripped the page out and crinkled it up.
"I'm going to make a journal about you and Dadda," he announced to me. "Don't look."
The next morning he came downstairs grinning from ear to ear. "You can read my notebook if you want," he said. "Just wait until I'm at school".
So I waited, impatiently, for the yellow bus to drive away. I came inside and found this on the cover of the notebook (started on the back, because you can't write on the plastic front):
"Love, Caring, Happy, Nice"
The first page revealed this:
"This is just the start turn the page"
This is the first entry:
"Today my mom and dad wher being the best mom and dad in the world"
Oh, my heart.
Raising kids is full of endings and beginnings. I find I mourn the endings more than I value the beginnings: when he lost his front baby teeth or when he stopped holding my hand in public, for example. To me these seemed like innocence lost, the beginning of his pulling away from me.
But they aren't just endings. They are the beginnings of the next thing.
Turn the page.