My friend Mike says that the reason men do this is that there is a peacock/preening syndrome. They need to impress the female. They need to feel adored. Me Tarzan. You Jane. Watch me swing. But it still kills me that women will actually say things like this.
How are you doing?
What are you doing this summer?
How is your writing coming along?
Are you two getting enough sleep?
How are the kids?
I had a conversation with a man last night. He told me about his vacation plans for this summer. And for next summer. And a lot about his life. It wasn’t even a date. Just a one sided conversation.
I get being a lesbian, I really do. Except…There’s stuff I would miss about men. That excitement, yes, that boyish excitement. I like having them around.
But I wish they would listen. I sometimes think we raise them wrong. Like they are girls gone wrong. Exactly like they are girls with a missing piece. Which isn’t true. They’ve got this extra piece. (I’ve checked and can verify this.) But in fact, that extra piece makes it impossible for them to hear properly out of their ears.
Eventually male/female dynamics blur into family dynamics. Who does get heard? Not the older people in this country. We live in a culture that is obsessed with children, we want the best for our children, we want to be their friends, to understand them, we don’t send them out into the world without tools, we plan for them, we work for them, we do everything we can to stay bonded with them. Our generation of parents and the Gen Xers can’t imagine our lives without our kids. We were neglected/abandoned by our own parents and so we pour ourselves into parenting. We don’t want to miss the mittens, the socks, the jumps and skips, the little report cards, the swim meets, the parties, the music, the shoes, the jumping off into new places kids have not gone before, the therapists. We picture ourselves as almost siblings of our kids, they are our younger selves and we are younger because we are twinned to them.
You try to weigh things: Parenthood, writing, editing, yes all good, but you know that whatever you do in public life won’t count if you can’t figure out that parent thing. And what of your parents? Are they your family? Everywhere I hear friends saying how distant they are from their parents, how they don’t feel their parents are their family the way their kids are. We don’t want to see ourselves in our parents—aging and crazy, critical and demanding. But we do want to see ourselves in our kids—vibrant, energetic, crazy about us, bounding toward the future. Just like we are.