So three year old Mary Tyler Son said to me yesterday morning, “You don’t know a lot of stuff, Mom, do you?” What the what? Oh no, he didn’t.
Oh, yes, he did.
We were working on a five layer body puzzle and as we were moving from muscles to the under layer of organs, Mary Tyler Son pointed to the testicles on the anatomically correct little boy from the puzzle and said, “Those are his testicles.” “Wow,” I said, “How did you know that?”
Apparently, Mary Tyler Dad has started anatomy lessons, which is cool, but it’s kind of shocking to hear your three year old correctly identify testicles. Penis is old hat — Mary Tyler Son could correctly point to his penis before his eyes. Testicles are new.
My toddler boy mistook my surprise for ignorance and seized the opportunity to tell me in a matter-of-fact yet somehow smug manner that his old lady “doesn’t know a lot of stuff.”
This pushed a lot of buttons in me. Feminist buttons. There’s something about a three year old boy, albeit a brilliant and verbal one, telling his forty-two year old mother that she is dense. Making it worse, he then told me that Mary Tyler Dad knows everything. Which he does, but still.
I’m still trying to sort out my feelings.
On the one hand, the kid is three. He is complete id and will say whatever pops into his head. On the other hand, he thinks I don’t know very much. That stings. I vascillated between sharing my hurt feelings with him and giving him an intellectual smackdown he would not soon forget. Punk.
In the end, I opted to take the high road. I briefly told him that what he said was unkind and hurt my feelings, but didn’t dwell on that. Okay, internally I did, and obviously still am, but I don’t want to lay that mother guilt on the boy. Empathy is best taught in doses, and never using guilt as a tool.
After that, though, I made certain to be more assertive with just what I did know. Rather than take the more trusted route of prompting the boy to state what he knows, I took this episode as a sign that it is okay to share my knowledge more freely. I don’t have the intellectual moves like Einstein, but my brain is not a shabby one. It works pretty well most days.
Big picture, though, this raises all sorts of fears about raising a son. As his mom, it is my solemn and sworn duty to raise a man that is not a nickname for Richard. You get my anatomical drift?
I want my son to value and respect women as much as men. I want my son to know that brains have nothing to do with gender. I want my son to appreciate the humor of Tina Fey as well as Judd Apatow. And I want my son to know that his Mom and Dad are both pretty smart cookies, just different flavors.