Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Measure of a Man

As a male parent of a son I believe it is my responsibility to instruct Ezra on how to be a Man. Ezra and I decided it was best to take a scholarly approach to these lessons. So, every night before going to sleep* I read aloud from Michael Chabon’s collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs.

Of course if I believed it was important for Ezra to grow into the much admired alpha male of American action movies, I would not have chosen Chabon’s book. Manhood is a collection of Chabon’s thoughts and experiences as someone who has lived all three roles in the holy trinity of the domestic male: father, son and spouse. Chabon writes a bit too much about his emotions, thinks a little too much about the meaning of minor incidents in his life, and is a little too active a participant in raising his children to be mistaken as “muy macho”. Not to mention, he loves to cook, enjoys being a stay at home father, and carries a purse. Though in his defense, baseball does come up several times throughout his book.

Manhood was admittedly a biased selection towards my own personal views on what it means to be a man. I hope to teach Ezra that being a man is not much, if any, different than being a good, happy person. I hope Ezra will play with dolls and trucks. I hope he likes art, poetry, and science. I hope he has as many close female friends as male ones. I hope he knows that sometimes the best person to learn traditionally male activities (like fishing, landscaping, playing catch, or playing guitar) is from a woman (in this case my sister). I hope he will not see much difference in what boys and girls can and should do. Finally, I hope he knows being a man does not mean you cannot wear leg warmers or purple jumpsuits (my favorite outfits for Ezra).

The one unknown variable in deciding what type of man Ezra will be is, of course, Ezra himself. Amanda and I can provide role models, support, and guidance, but he must determine what type of person he is and wants to become. Ezra is not yet capable of telling me his own personal definition of being a man or where he fits into that definition. He is capable of communicating on a more primal level, and I do wonder what it meant when he urinated on our copy of Manhood during a diaper change. The book was sitting two feet away so it did take some effort. I had to wonder: was he disagreeing with Chabon’s and my views on our gender? Demonstrating his own manliness? Or, did he just really need to go?

*this “sleep” is mostly hypothetical.

A dramatic recreation of the event

No comments: