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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Holy Testosterone Batman!

The boys latest game is called "Fight."
No more playing with trucks. Or fixing things with tools.
Now it's all about the fight.
There are variations of the game. First you can do it with Lego men. You line them all up on the TV stand and count to twenty.
If you are two-year old J, whenever you get past ten, you just repeat what your older brother is saying or make something up like 'six, ten, five...twenty!' Then you shout "Kapow! Chow! Frow!" as your lego people beat the crap out of each other.
The second variation is to actually fight with each other.
Again, if you're J, you put on your best Superwhy cape and mask, announce that you are Batman (or Robin, depending on your mood), and yell "FIGHT!" If your brother does not respond because he's too tired, you ask more politely:
"Hey, E, wanna fight?'
If he says no, sulk.
If he says yes, pounce.

At first I worried I created this problem by letting the boys watch old Batman episodes on YouTube.
"If it wasn't Batman, it would have been some other fighting game," my mother-in-law, an early childhood specialist assured me. To be sure, I bought the book The Way of Boys, because honestly, I was clueless about the way of boys. I had sisters. We played Barbies, not bad guys, and rarely did Barbie and Ken beat each other up. As a kid, and even into adulthood, boys always seemed a strange and scary species. When I first found out I was having a boy,in fact, I dreamed his was born smoking a cigar and speaking in tongues. No joke. I was terrified.

Sure enough, in the book, there was a whole chapter on how boys need to be bad guys, the author's words again assuring me this was normal.
So, when it comes to the fighting, I try to take the stay out of it approach, telling myself I'm letting nature take its course. The only time I interfere is if the fighting breaks out in public, or when I hear something bang hard against a wall (almost always J's head), followed by crying.
The last time this happened, I went in to the boy's room to console J who was crying and saying "E hit me! E hit me."
Moments later, E started crying too.
"Why are you crying?" I asked him.
"He wanted to fight mommmy," E said.
Was he crying because he was scared of getting in trouble? Or because he felt badly?
I wasn't sure.
Later that evening, J fell off his chair while eating dinner. No one was fighting then. It was just one of those awkward toddler moments when you miscalculate your distance from the table and the next thing you know you're hanging upside down from your chair, your head bonking the floor.
My husband picked up J and took him to the couch where he proceeded to cry and scream for several minutes.
E left the room and to our suprise, returned moments later with J's batman toy. He handed it to his brother, who stopped crying. "Here you go, J," he said.
My husband and I looked at each other.
There is hope for the male species after all.