So when he was about 30 hours old and we were settling in at home I thought it was time for the chat. The one about my role as his mummy and how he should feel able to tell me anything (but no need to tell me everything) and how it's my job, and his daddy's job, to help him grow up to be a man, and all that will entail. It must have been the hormones - the ones that place exuberance over exhaustion for a couple of days.
You'll need, I told him, not necessarily to meet society's expectations of what a man is, but to know what it is that is expected. Know the rules to break the rules, that kind of thing. You'll be expected to be strong, I told him, whatever that means. And though you can cry, it'll be noted each time by people who either want you to or don't want you to. I want you to be happy and thoughtful and fulfilled and to love and be loved I told him. To care for the vulnerable and leave the world better than you find it and to value words and feelings but to also be able to create fire from sticks and unblock the sink. Not all that different from the chat I gave my daughter in fact, when it came to life skills. But above all, I told my son, in learning to be a man, you must be kind.
My mum came over shortly after. I have been telling him all I will be teaching him to help him become a man I told my mum. I hope, she said, that number one was kindness. She's a wise woman my mum - she taught me everything I know.