Three Riley Brothers - Rocco, 4. Tim, 20. Max, 10.
I'm attempting to raise my boys as feminists and I'm not even sure what that means. Something to do with teaching them how to clean a toilet, having gender-neutral toys, not objectifying women. Respect, tolerance, fairness.
Rocco is all "big boys don't cry" at the moment. Every time he says it, I say "Yes they do." He asked if daddies cry, and I said yes, all people cry sometimes. And it's ok. It's gradually seeping in. "When mum? When did dad cry? What did he sound like? Did he have tears?"
His favourite colour used to be pink, which was completely adorable. Unfortunately, the amount of macho testosterone in all the other guys around here soon squashed that. One day I told him to use the pink pencil while colouring-in and he said, "Nah mum. Pink is a girls colour. My favourite colour is brown now."
BROWN. Furious, I asked the others. "Who told Rocco that pink is a girls colour? Who?" Sheepish looks, but nobody owned up. When Tim was 14, he started to buy those ridiculous soft-porn mags. (FHM, Ralph.) Always women with massive boobs wearing black lingerie on the cover. I LOATHE. He used to leave them around the house, so I'd toss them straight to the recycle bin.
I want my boys to know and appreciate the true value of a woman .. but also themselves. To realise they are deeper, with more feeling and intuition than the world gives them credit for. To respect themselves first. I encourage them to be nurturing and sensitive .. always ask them how they feeeeel about things. I talk to all of them honestly about sexuality. If they can learn early how to express their emotions instead of keeping them bottled up ... they're already ahead.
I feel sick about the younger two one day discovering porn. The other day I clicked on a link from a spam bot on twitter, on a whim. It was some of the most hardcore stuff I've ever seen and I was truly shocked. It takes a lot to shock me. There's a really dark side of this digital world.
Talking with my stepson last week, he opened up about how he's starting to "crack through the bullshit" of how guys talk to each other. How good it feels to have a proper conversation with one of his mates about normal things, instead of it all just about chicks and drinking and sport.
One day, I hope to crack through the bullshit of my four-year olds "only boys can be superheroes" mentality.
Rocco: "Ok mum. You be a girl, and I'll be Superman."
Me: "No, I'll be Supergirl."
Rocco: "NO. I'll be Hulk ... and you be ... a girl."
Me: "I'll be Hulkie Girl."
Rocco: "THERE IS NO HULKIE GIRL MUM STOP. I'm going to be .... Rockman. You can be a girl."
Me: "Can I be Super Rock Girl?"
Rocco: Huge, big, defeated sigh. "Can't you just be Rockman's mummy?"