The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jason and Nicki

I was asked a couple of days ago to comment on any differences between the way I’m raising Jason, as opposed to Nicki.

There are definitely some differences. 
1)     Nicki had a full-time Mom.  Toni, my first wife, was home with her pretty much until kindergarten.  It’s possible that his recent acting-out was just a plea for more focused time.
2)     I have my own insecurities, based on a lack of paternal involvement in my youth.  It is always possible that I overcompensate—want Jason to be more “macho” or something.  But I don’t think there’s a lot of that.  There just seem to be some basic differences.  Nicki would WATCH me working out, while Jason is more monomaniacal about imitating me.  Nicki was much more snuggly with me (and her mommy).  If I try to snuggle Jason and he isn’t in the mood, he’ll wriggle his way out, panting and grinning. 
3)     I am probably a little more cavalier about his risk-taking and skinned knees.  Maybe.  But I’m not sure there, either.  There were lots of risks I encouraged Nicki to take.
4)     Nicki certainly had more “girly” toys (dolls, etc.) than Jason has (can you say “action figures”?) but then Toni bought most of Nicki’s toys, so I can’t be held accountable for that.
5)     I probably spend similar amounts of time with Jason as I did with Nicki.
6)     Jason is going to be a tall, strong man—and therefore threatening.   He will have to learn to be very polite and controlled.
7)     I wanted Nicki to know how to defend herself, so a certain minimum amount of defense/martial arts was a part of her upbringing.  Jason will have more.  The world is not kind to men who cannot resist aggression, or be aggressive when the situation demands.  Men do not respect them, and women are less attracted to them.
8)     Jason is going to be ridiculously attractive—he’s a gorgeous kid, and girls already react to him strongly.  Weird to watch.  So he’s going to learn to have impeccable manners toward women, and I am careful about my voice and body language toward Tananarive when he is around.  I wouldn’t want him to mistake a playful mood for inappropriate hitting or intimidation.

Overall, everything I see suggests that men and women are about 98% the same, but that 2% difference is what attracts them to each other.  The 98% is what makes the relationship stable and lasting.  So I have to work on both his basic human qualities, and his specific masculine, aggressive, protective qualities. 

With Nicki, I just concentrated on her being in balance, and let her Mom concentrate on the girly stuff. If I’d been a single father, I would have enlisted the help of sisters, aunts, and female friends to provide her this energy.  If I was a woman with a male child, I’d enlist brothers, uncles, coaches and martial arts instructors to teach the proper use of male energy.

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