I genuinely try my best not to live in an echo chamber, as much as anybody really can in the year 2018. What I actually mean by this is that I don’t typically “unfollow” or “unfriend” over political beliefs. It’s no secret to anybody who’s ever read a single word that I’ve written that I am generally to the right of Ronald Reagan on most issues, although I like the think that when it comes to social issues, I’m fairly Libertarian, and I wish that more Republicans would be, too. Marry whomever you like. Smoke whatever you like. But please don’t force me to pay for failing social programs, your healthcare, or your “right to housing” or whatever that lady from Westchester is talking about in between her hilariously incorrect takes on global politics.
There’s one guy whom I follow on Twitter (and if you’re not following me…well, that’s actually pretty smart of you) who hits retweet on every single possible liberal social issue. He’s a basic white dude, but of course he’s an advocate for LBGTQ, for womyn, for minorities, for poor people, for immigrants…you name it, this dude is on it. He’s childless, but he’s all about Marching For Our Lives. He tweets about toxic masculinity at least once a day. Drives me crazy.
In the real world, he and I get along smashingly, mostly because we don’t talk about any of that silly shit in person. I even coached him around a racetrack once. Genuinely nice guy.
Unfortunately, I can’t agree with him on most of what he says, or really any of it, because I don’t get to have the “luxury” (note the sarcasm here) of living childless in a three-floor walkup in a trendy neighborhood. I’m raising kids.
And, generally, I think that I’m doing a decent job of it. More to the point, one of the people I’m raising is a white male—and boy, is he white! I mean, blond hair, blue eyes, soccer player, Minecraft and Pokemon gamer…I’m pretty sure that he’s never heard a rap or R&B song, and Jazz barely qualifies as black music anymore. (He does like Shakira, but, I mean, come on, so do all white men.) He’s gone to a private Christian school in a rural county since he was 3. I couldn’t make him any whiter if I tried.
I am doing everything that I can to be a role model for him, because I’m pretty sure that’s what fathers are supposed to do, but also because popular culture is nearly devoid of them. When I say “them,” I mean that it’s becoming harder and harder to find people that look like him and, perhaps more importantly, think like he does whom society elevates as being worthy of praise and adoration. You might not remember this, but after 9/11 happened, the NFL canceled all of its games for a couple of weeks. It was, without question, the right thing to do. But, eventually, the nation had to get back to normal, and games resumed. The very first game after the attack, several players proudly waved the flag as they ran onto the field. The NFL used to be the home of American patriotism. Now? I think we know where it’s gone.
Anyway, a friend of mine from my high school days shared the post at the top of this page on Facebook the other day. It lists 7 “toxic phrases” that parents need to stop saying. She’s the type who wishes she had invented the word “theybies.” And of course the author’s name is Jeremy. Let’s check them out and see how toxic they really are.
“You’re too sensitive.”
This one is somewhat on the fence for me. I don’t want my son to cry over everything, and he does have a tendency to be overtly sensitive about things. I also don’t want him to feel like he has to keep his feelings inside, and if he’s feeling hurt about something, I want him to know that it’s okay to share that. But there’s a fine line here—I want him to realize that sometimes he really is too sensitive. He doesn’t have to cry when we throw away an old broken toy. But I won’t be too mad at anybody who thinks this is a bad phrase to say to kids. All right, you’ve got my interest, Jeremy. Let’s move on.
“Boys don’t cry!”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m not with you on this one, Jeremy. If you cry on a soccer field, or, God forbid, a football field, you damn well better have a compound fracture. (I know, because I had a compound fracture on a football field once. I didn’t cry.)
“Those are for girls!”
Damn skippy I say that. We don’t play with girls’ toys. We don’t wear girls’ clothing. A psychiatrist in the article says that “The binary view of gender is harmful and restrictive for everyone.” This is a subject that’s so dangerous that I’d rather not comment other than to say that I believe sex and gender are synonyms, and I’ll leave it at that.
“Why can’t you be more like XXXX?”
Okay, I kinda agree with this one. I don’t compare my kid to other kids. I accept that he’s not as fast as some or as strong as others, and that’s mostly because he is half my genetic material. Can’t get mad at him for that. But when I see somebody outwork him, whether athletically or academically, you better believe that I’ll point that out. “Joe out-hustled you on that one.” I see no harm in that—most of the time it has the desired effect, which is to get him to try to out-hustle Joe next time.
“You play like a girl!”
According to Jeremy, “This phrase sends the message to boys that girls are somehow less than and, in essence, gives them permission to view girls as being unworthy.” Eh. Maybe. I’m actually more concerned about the effect it would have on my daughter if she were to hear me say that to my son. I might say it if I were coaching a team full of boys, and I have given some kids on my team a bit of a razzing when they’ve been beaten by a girl during a practice or a co-ed game. But I’ll give you this one, J-Dawg.
“You must win!”
I’ll never, ever apologize for telling my child that winning is important. Never. Jeremy says that by having your child focus on winning that “in reality, you are narrowing their focus so that all they see is the prize, as opposed to the experience.” THAT IS CORRECT, JEREMY. In the words of the great Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are. I want my kids to hate losing—not to fear it, but to hate it. Fearing losing means that you don’t try. Hating to lose means that you’ll do whatever it takes to avoid it. Winning matters. Teaching kids that losing is okay just makes them good at losing.
“Boys will be boys”
Yeah, I say this one, too, mostly around foolish teachers who try to force my son into a box. When he gets bored, he’s going to look out the window. When somebody teases him, he’s going to tease back. Or punch back. I’m okay with all of this. Jeremy seems to think that excusing this sort of behavior in young boys turns them into rapists. Can’t say I agree with that. I think it turns them into Alphas.
After reading Jeremy’s post, It appears that I’m raising a toxic male. Good. He’ll be a strong, competitive man in a world full of people who tweet every other day about how “terrified” they are. Example:
If you're like me, the last three years of the Trump Era have been enraging and, at times, debilitating. This crisis is massive and its consequences far-reaching. We have to fight it, but we're not going to make it if we don't take care of ourselves. 1/
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) July 25, 2018
This guy’s been debilitated for three years. THREE YEARS! Trump has only been POTUS for 18 months—he was so debilitated by Trump that he was afraid before Trump was even elected! I can’t wait for my son to kick this guy’s ass.
i love that feeling of being so hurt and frustrated with something but i can’t talk about it because i’m afraid they are just gonna hurt and frustrate me more. happy sunday! 🤗
— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) July 30, 2018
HE’S SO HURT!
Just search for “trump” and “scary” on Twitter and you’ll find a whole host of Betas who are “scared” and “terrified” and “hurting” and “crying.” For fuck’s sake, people. Your ancestors went to wars and fought actual Nazis. You’re afraid because of…what exactly?
I’d prefer that my son be toxic, thanks.