So, yesterday, I asked my son to do something. Something fairly small. He was getting a drink of water, so I asked him to stay in the kitchen with me and get some things out for me to make supper because they were down low and my hips and knees were complaining about the weather and being out from under the electric blanket.
He huffed, snarled, heaved a sigh, and got out the cookie sheet for tater tots. Which he likes. And I get a "Is that all?" spit in my face. I called him (mildly) on his attitude, and asked him to also get out the big, nonstick skillet for burgers.
And he huffed and snarled and groaned and got it out, then got snotty. Again.
So I called him on his attitude, and asked him where he got the idea that acting like that was okay. Did he ever see me act like that?
Well, no. But. "You're Mom. You're not supposed to act like that. You're a girl."
Speaks volumes, doesn't it. I don't have the influence on my son that I'd like to have. I don't have the influence on shaping his attitudes and behaviors that I'd like to have.
Wanna know what does?
His ADHD does--he doesn't rule his impulses, they rule him. He KNOWS his attitude, when he acts like that, never fails to get him in trouble, but it's not something he's willing to curb in the moment. I'm not entirely sure he's able to, yet. I don't have him drugged into a zombie, and I won't drug him into a zombie. Which means his impulses still rule him, despite a constant struggle for otherwise.
His peers do. The other boys at school act like this. Many of them are also hyper-smart ADHD kids ruled by their impulses. He knows they get in trouble. He knows he will get in trouble. But since they act like that, he will, too.
Dad does. Dad is often as tired as Mom, but still does things. But Dad grumbles. Huffs. Snarls. I see some of the same attitude in Odysseus that I do in the imp, but it's nowhere near so pronounced in the adult as it is in the child, and unlike the child, the adult works longer hours every week, on much harder things, and comes home exhausted daily. With no real recourse--adults' work is never done, while kids get after homework hours and weekends off.
Children don't see that. Just as girls follow the examples their mothers set (the pixie reads, picks stuff up, helps with housework--mostly quietly and without complaining), and that their classmates and other girls set, boys follow the behavior modeled by their male role models (teachers, sports stars, fathers, men in music and TV), and by their peers.
I hear complaints all the damn time, from all around me, about "toxic masculinity." And I see news stories of football players raised in single parent homes where their male role models were bums and abusers being given a pass because they're stars. I hear "music" blasted from the local university's football field denigrating women and going on about hitting them, or putting them in their place. I see men on TV either held up as boobs saved by the really smart women in their lives, or assholes like the ones in the "music" these boys are listening to, or sports stars they're looking to for role models. And this is the example a lot of boys are living down to. This may, in a lot of cases, be all the role models these boys have: either be a feminized soy-boy (and who wants to be a door-mat?), or be an asshole.
So many, many boys do not have a father. So many, many boys who are lucky enough to have a father have a father who's not present, or who's been emasculated by his wife or by the culture.
Real masculinity isn't toxic. Traditional masculinity isn't toxic.* The image of masculinity presented by our current, poisonous culture is what is toxic.
And the APA can go fuck themselves with their lack of understanding of traditional masculinity.
*Traditional masculinity isn't demonstrated by sportsball players. It isn't demonstrated by musicians, or actors. Traditional masculinity is that which goes out and provides for the family. Traditional masculinity is about offering respect in the same measure it's given. Traditional masculinity is inner strength, brought about by determination, understanding, and purpose. Traditional masculinity is demonstrated by the husband that works and takes care of wife and children, resisting temptations set in his way by the world to cheat, lie, or abrogate responsibilities for whatever the hell reason.
1 hour ago