Before Super Mom and I were married I posed a different question than the one that begs an “I Do” – I asked her how many kids she wanted to have once the the vows were made, the cake was cut and the dress was stowed away.
“I want 10” she said and I just about lost my tacos.
“10? Did you say 10?”
“Yes, and I want them all to be boys.”
I had a smile on my face but inside my intestines were wrapped around my throat and slowly squeezing the life out of me. My first instinct was to run, but I just couldn’t do it. I knew that in time we would be married but the number 10 did not sound very appealing to me.
We never made it to 10, but sometimes having five boys seems like we have 10 when you add their cousins and friends who are often at our house at any given moment. So far (crossing every finger and toe) we have been blessed to have very few problems with our boys aside from the occasional broken bones, broken TV, broken TV remotes, broken cars, broken furniture, broken everything. But we’ve also learned over time that those things are replaceable. Our boys have brought us so much joy. Our lives have been perfect except for that elusive million dollar pay day but that’s always in the works, right?
I’m tough on my boys because isn’t that what dad’s are supposed to do? Super Mom tempers that well enough but when they come home crying about scrapes and bruises I give them the requisite ‘put some dirt on it,’ or ‘I’ve been hurt worse than that’ and then send them on their way.
There is never a shortage of testosterone in our home. That is…..until my nieces show up.
On my side of the family, my parents have 27 grandchildren. Only nine of them are girls. On my wife’s side of the family, there are 30 grandchildren so far. Only eight of them are girls. Can you imagine what it’s like to have both of our families under one roof? It would be the equivalent of 40 monkeys let loose on 17 little girls and every father in the room, whether they have daughters or not, would be compelled to protect the little girls at all costs.
And in the midst of the chaos and din I ask myself the question, ‘how do you deal with these miniature women if you’ve never had to take care of one before?’
So when Super mom and her sister wanted to go for a run and needed a babysitter for my two little nieces I looked for a place to duck for cover. I’m not a good babysitter; a grouchy one at best. But those little girls are so cute, how can a guy say ‘no’?
I reiterate – I have NO clue how to take care of little girls. They scare me. They are too intuitive, they are very emotional and those little stinkers may not know it but they are already master manipulators by the time they are two days old. Do they go to a female-only school somewhere that teaches them how to make men give in to them? I don’t know, but whatever it is, it works.
When my sons or nephews say, ‘Uncle I want candy,’ I say, ‘candy is bad for your teeth and so is my hand when I smack the back of your neck!’
When my nieces ask the same question, it’s like a mad scramble to find any kind of sweet and I would serve it on a silver Barbie platter in a waiters jacket if I had either one.
My nieces tried to get me to play hide-and-seek. I couldn’t find those little stinkers for 15 minutes! When my boys hide I simply shout, ‘you better come out wherever you’re hiding or you’re not eating dinner.’ Sadly, through trial and error and a comical attempt to get in an out from under the bed, the only place big enough for me to hide in the house was in the shower – not effective when it is a glass door. So we nixed the hide-and-seek and I let them play Dora the Explorer games on the computer instead.
It was a bitter-sweet moment when Super Mom and my sister in-law returned from their run. It’s a good thing because I think the girls had figured out by that time that I’m not very good at this babysitting thing and that I am also the biggest sucker in the world. It was crushing in the sense that when they said goodbye they thought I was the ‘other’ Polynesian uncle in the family instead of the mean one that they usually avoid.
I often wonder what life would have been like if we had a daughter. Super Mom tells me that she would have been jealous because my attention would have shifted to our daughter. Is that true? Would I really have doted over a daughter? Would I have been ultra protective of her? Would she have been able to melt my heart the way that my nieces sometimes do? I want to say ‘no’, but I know in my heart that the answers to those questions would have been ‘yes’. A daughter would have surely smoothed out the rough edges of my nature. Of that, I am definitely sure.
But it was not in the plans for our little family. Instead, we have sons. Wonderful, awesome, rambunctious, rough-housing sons. And some day we may have granddaughters. And when we do, I will spoil them like crazy and my sons will say, ‘Dad, you need to stop spoiling them.’ And I will politely say, ‘When you have granddaughters of your own you can treat them the way you think is right. These are my granddaughters I’ll spoil my granddaughters if I want to.’
See any problems there? I do – that’s what a lack of testosterone will do to a man.