The balance of power has shifted in my home. With the Older One now taking up residence at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Hubs and the Dog are on their own against myself, my daughter and my MIL, who tipped the scales to the female side when she moved in four months ago. I have waited many years for an extra jolt of estrogen to make my family complete, and while the Hubs may not be thrilled to be in the minority, I am finding most days to be a new and frilly adventure.
That is not to say that I don’t miss my son like crazy. His absence is a very noticeable hole in the fabric of our family. I miss him every day and am constantly reminded that the special relationship between a mother and her son is every bit as strong as the father/daughter one we hear so much about.
When he was young though, I would get so frustrated while shopping for his clothes. I was forced to wade my way through row after row of pretty pink shoes and rack after rack of frilly and sparkly clothes to get to the solitary line of boy shoes and the one lonely rack of gray and brown utilitarian boy’s clothes. Apparently shopping for boys is not meant to be fun!
When he would play, it was with trucks. I would watch him digging in the sand for hours, wondering how he could stand to have all that dirt under his nails, in his hair, between his toes. I cringe just thinking about it, but he could not have been happier.
Later it was G.I. Joe and any toy that could cause imaginary destruction. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the fascination with lining up those little green Army men, just to knock them down! Given the path he has ultimately chosen for himself, I guess he knew exactly what he was doing.
Then came the athletics. At first it was t-ball, then karate and soccer and basketball. By the time we hit youth football, the testosterone that invaded my house was, at times, overwhelming. The Hubs bought me “Football for Dummies” just so I could follow the dinner conversation. Here again, my son knew exactly what he wanted, as he now proudly holds a position on the defensive line for the Army Black Knights football team. (Go Army! Beat Navy!)
My daughter, on the other hand, is all girl. On the soccer field, she is usually not the one running for the ball. She is the one spinning in circles and admiring her manicure as the ball rolls past. She’s more in her element during her Saturday morning gymnastics class where her favorite part of the weekly session is comparing the bling on her leotard to the sparkles on her friends’ clothes.
And speaking of sparkles, her closet practically glimmers when we turn on the lights. There is no gray or brown to be seen, and the choices in the stores are endless. Even her toys have an element of glitter, and she would never even dream of playing with them in the dirt. In fact, dirt is the enemy. There is no sandbox in the backyard for my four-year-old girl as there was for my boy at that age. Dirt is now “yucky” and “gross” and cause for tears, where 14 years ago it was cause for celebration. She would, however, love to play with her brother’s G.I. Joes if I would let her. Their only role in her make-believe world, though, would be to drive the convertible for Barbie.
For all their differences, however, they are so amazingly similar. The Beanie Babies that entertained the Older One, now snuggle close to the Young One at bedtime. This morning during gymnastics class, I watched her sprint down a trampoline runway and launch herself into a pile of foam blocks. As she laughed, I turned to the Hubs and said, “The Older One would have loved that too!” Somewhere in the future I suppose, she will prefer football to soccer as well. The football team, after all, has a corresponding cheerleading squad that wears skirts and does cartwheels.
Tonight, after baking cookies and donning Minnie Mouse pajamas, the Young One will peruse her bookshelf, searching for the perfect bedtime story. Chances are high that she will choose the same one she has picked every night for the last two weeks–a well-worn copy of a Richard Scarry popup book that lived on that same shelf 14 years ago.
I will turn the pages. She will pull the tabs with fascination, and we will both shake our heads sadly when she gets to that last popup and says, “My brother ripped that one.” She will be momentarily saddened that she will never pull that last tab, but my heart will warm with the memory of a little boy whose hands held the same cherished book and smiled with delight when his little fingers made the pictures come alive.
Yes, the balance of power has shifted…, but not much has changed. I still pick up scattered Beanie Babies and read bedtime stories. I still chauffeur a child to sports practice, and I still love two children. One is just a little further away than the other and prefers to wear digitized camo instead of sparkles.