I’ve always been a little competitive. So, while I don’t love that I do this, it’s not surprising that I find myself in competition (in my mind) with my husband about our kids. Although I feel our little boy exhibits a lot of the same tendencies as I do, when it comes to food preferences and personality, there are some things about my son’s relationship with his dad that make me jealous. I know I can’t “win” at parenting, but I can’t help but feel an outsider looking into their world at times.
I’m betting my husband feels this way too, at least occasionally, when it comes to our daughter and how we relate. She and I both love performing arts, clothes, and having long hair. My husband has no interest in those things, though he supports her enthusiasm about dance class and putting together a cool outfit when she volunteers to pick out his clothes.
With my son, I can’t help but feel my husband has an advantage over me when it comes to who our boy would naturally relate to. They share the same anatomy, and while that doesn’t count for everything, it is something. I have to accept that there will be things, as he gets older, that our son will just feel more comfortable talking to his father about than he would to me. In fact, we are kind of going through that now with our daughter. She turned 10 and her pediatrician suggested that I be the one accompanying her to her well visits from this point on, as opposed to a male guardian.
While I don’t know if being the appointed parent for our daughter’s doctors’ visits ruffles my husband’s feathers, I am feeling jealous of the following things about my son’s relationship with his dad:
They Bond Over Video Games
Other than Tetris and Pac-Man, I don’t play video games. I never had a gaming system or felt the thrill of exploring new worlds, battling aliens, or even just bouncing on mushrooms. My husband, on the other hand, is passionate about game play. So, I guess it’s no surprise his interest has spread in our house. On weekend mornings, my son and husband spend an hour or so on the couch before I wake up, controllers in hand, glued to the soccer game they’re playing on our TV. I just can’t relate.
They Look At Soccer Team Standings For "Fun"
When our son was in first grade, we signed him up for soccer and he grew wildly passionate about the sport almost immediately. He would play non-stop, begging us to practice with him at all hours of the day. He learned about the leagues all over the world, and follows their standing closely, which my husband can relate to since he played sports as a kid. I was a swimmer and while I was on a swim team, I didn’t make it my life.
Soccer is my son’s life and he can spend hours discussing the players and standings and he’s usually doing so with the more interested member of our household… his dad.
I do engage him in conversations about his interests, though. I want to spend time with him, but I think he’s clued into the fact that his dad just “gets it” and I, sadly (for me) do not.
They Both Love Pokémon Go
Though he’s pretty much over it now, my son was obsessed with Pokémon Go when it came out for mobile devices. At age 6, he didn’t have his own phone, but his dad got into it, too, and they’d go for endless “Poké walks” together.
Honestly, traipsing around my neighborhood in an augmented reality wasn’t how I wanted to bond with my son.
They Play Well Together
I was usually the one taking the kids to the playground when they were younger. That was partially for selfish reasons, since I wanted to socialize and I knew other parents of kids would be at the playground. It was a win-win. Yes, I would engage in some tag with my kids and pretend not to hover while they scaled the equipment, but I wasn’t really exerting myself. I was there to keep them safe, and whip out wipes to combat playground grime before it went into their mouths.
Now that my son is 7, though, he really wants to play intense games. When he’s outside with friends, he’s got peers to play with and, well, that's great. But if he his the playground at times when kids his age aren’t around, he’s not asking me to kick the ball with him. I totally understand why, too. I’m not very good at it. But it does kind of sting.
They Love Sports
Sports were not really part of our household at all, until last year when our son started playing them. Now they are practically the only thing my son chooses to acknowledge. His Legos have gone untouched for a while this year. He barely takes out any action figures to play with. His obsession with monopoly has subsided. I was a great play partner for all those activities, but now that his conversations steer us mostly towards sports, I’m at a loss. I do offer to read his Sports Illustrated Kids magazine with him, but he just naturally gravitates to the person in our home who can rattle off statistics more easily, and that is not me.
They Love Bathroom Humor
Not to play into stereotypes, but the males in our home are a lot more into "gross humor" than I am. Our rule is that you can’t use bathroom language unless you are in the bathroom. So if the urge to talk about poop is overwhelming, my kids need to go do that in the place where poop should happen.
I’m a lot more vigilant about enforcing this rule than my husband is, though. It’s annoying, mostly because he gets to share a lot more laughs with my son.
They Don’t Complicate Their Communication
Our son is 7, so I don’t expect his communication skills to be very nuanced. He wears his heart on his sleeve, shows his anger and his joy unabashedly, and turns up the volume on his voice when he is demanding to be heard (much to my frustration).
My husband communicates in pretty much the same way. I notice a lot of grown men don’t have as many settings as grown women seem to have in terms of how they modulate their communication. Obviously, this is irritating. I mean, why does society expect me to have to “carefully read the room” as a woman, and temper my communication style to make the other person feel at lease, while giving men, just because they are men, leeway to say whatever, however, whenever?
This is symptom of a broken system in our culture when it comes to gender, I think.
But there is a part of me that watches my husband and son talk in simple terms, saying what they’re thinking and moving on to the next thing, that makes me jealous. It is so freeing to be able to feel it is safe to speak your mind. And while I don’t advocate their simple free speech to the exclusion of others’ participation in the conversation, or if it is hateful or dismissive, I think I can learn a little bit from them. I can keep it simple. Say what I mean, and not invite discussion when I really know what I want.
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