2. Treat You Like the Sun
I asked you if you would like me to treat you like I treat our son.
“No, thank you!” you said. "Because you mock him."
I believe you have conflated some things, including your experience with your mother and some of how I treated you in the past. With Sol, I am loving, respectful, aware of his individuality and fluid in his desire for both connection and autonomy. I give him space to be both vulnerable and self-reliant.
I am consistent, loving, firm, and communicative. We spend time talking about words, their power, and calling things the right name. We name things. We talk about feeling words and how to find the right word for the situation. We discuss which objects are inanimate and cannot, therefore, be stupid.
I have high expectations for him according to his ability. I do not expect him to do or be what he cannot yet be, emotionally, socially, or developmentally. I scaffold his learning when he is on the brink of becoming able to do something that is a tiny bit out of his reach. I never mock him for being unable to do something but help him visualize when he will be able to do the thing. I encourage him to find his edge. I believe we all must find our edge, but believe for boys, naming and encouraging it allows them the security to become self-aware, purpose-driven men.
I encourage him to try new things. I encourage him to breathe and notice his body when he is angry or sad. I tell him to notice when his rage is a manifestation of grief or rejection. I hug him when he identifies the source of his anger or sadness. I hug him when he is happy, proud, affectionate, cooperative, funny, imaginative, or excited. I hug him when I’m proud of him. I hug him when I am displeased with his behavior, careful to help him separate the boy from the behavior. I hug him when I’ve missed him or he’s missed me. I hug him when I apologize to him. I hug him when I seek to help him understand that I would like an apology, or at least to repair with him when he has been too rough or aggressive with me.
We reinforce our goodwill for one another by naming things and giving hugs. We reinforce our attachment with one another and our place in family, school, community. This gives him confidence to move from a secure base into the world with a steady sense of self and a fortified core of identity.
We do not always hug. Sometimes he does not want a hug, and I support his decision in knowing when he does and does not want contact/ Sometimes I do not want a hug when he wants to give or get one, and he gets to learn from this moment an internal response to disappointment, an awareness of boundaries, and in this age of awareness around consent, an internal gauge of adjusting his desire with another’s boundaries and shifting boundaries. I do not name these as such because he is four, but I know that this exhaustive early work lays track for later internalized knowledge and understanding when we one day do talk about boundaries, desire, consent, and disappointment.
I tell him he is perfect and good how he is right now. I tell him even though I scold him sometimes, he is still good and perfectly made, and that part of our job together is for me to acknowledge that I love him as he is in any given moment and to also guide his behaviors and to utilize this time like a calculated scientist to instill in him the lens of values I wish him to know are important to me. I tell him that when he is bigger, my time will run out to show him what is important to me and it will be his time to play with trying them on, but more importantly, to discard them while he plays with nuances of persona, free will, and developing his own thought and raisons d’ êtres, and that my job will be to breathe into that space and let him be himself, reinforcing that I love him in whatever moment he is in. He thinks he will be big when he is six. I tell him we can negotiate his bigness when he gets his whiskers. He laughs.
When I ask you if you would like me to treat you how I treat Sol, I acknowledge that I have treated you like an adult human who has wronged me, been wrong, is wrong. I acknowledge that I have not accepted you as good and perfect as you are right now, and I have blamed you for not being good and perfect. I acknowledge that this is a continuation of the mothering you got and the polarized way you have been treated by women, regardless of how you behaved. I acknowledge that the ways you have behaved have been behaviors, not necessarily living in integrity with a core identity fortified with security, love, unconditional acceptance, and warmth in guiding behaviors and values.
When I ask you if you would like me to treat you how I treat Sol, I do not offer pity, condescension, or helicoptering. I offer judicious linguistics, warmth, affection, respect, dignified Socratic teaching that is expansive in the way it invites discourse, respite. It is not shaming. It is truthful. It is compassionate. It is a manifestation of the imperative I have to be the change, to be loving and kind to all, to be in action of the principles of my self-identity. It is the alignment of who I say I am and who I am. It is an energetic contract made binding by breathing it into word. It is freedom to be kind and vulnerable, while realizing a different kind of role with you—one that emulates the feminine archetype you lacked, but one that foregoes my sexual nature with you. It models sexual polarity for you as it does for Sol, but it does not enact it.
When I ask you if you would like me to treat you how I treat Sol, I let go of my desire to be met in sexual ecstasy with you. I acknowledge your place in my world now while abandoning the notion of the man I wanted you to be when you were my lover. I make an offer of peace. I acknowledge the sexual bond as it was is over and I respect it. I vow to be the embodiment of the Wise Woman, the crucible who does not martyr, the good mother, the sexual being, the feminine archetype, the model and pedagogista. I extend to you an acknowledgment of your goodness and perfection as you are in this moment, while also guiding your awareness to the feminine you have longed for but have not known.
Would you like me to treat you how I treat Sol?