Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Female Influence

When it looked like things were getting serious between John and me, his father Frank told me, “We brought him this far. It’s your job to finish him.” He was only half joking. John had his share of wild teen years (and a fair amount of my share as well – we balance each other out that way), and his parents did a great job getting him through.

I guess there is a certain amount of refinement that women bring to men once they are together. I look back over the years and compare the man John is today to the man he was when we met and try to pinpoint the influence that I have had on him. John is definitely less wild, but I can’t really take credit for that. Before we had kids but after we had been together for a while, I got plenty of calls from police and hospitals, and friends who stated that they had “lost” John. So, he was obviously still quite the rowdy man even after being with me for many years. I think fatherhood can take the credit for his calmer demeanor. It doesn’t hurt that most of his cohorts in transgression are also fathers.

My influence on him is more subtle. For example, I taught him what a great combination French fries and chocolate milk shakes are. Therefore, he is open to trying new things since he’s been with me. I also think he is more honest about things in general. He talks about my moral compass – sometimes in a tone that you would think of when imagining the cool kids picking on the nerds and leading me to ask, “Are you making fun of me?” - but mostly in a tone of appreciation.

I suppose Frank was confident that my influence would be stronger on John rather than vice versa. He was mostly right. Since meeting John, I haven’t spent one minute in a police station. However, after all of these years, I am seeing evidence that the male influence on females may be stronger than our influence on them. If you live in a male-dominated household (MDH) like I do, you may be surprised by the changes you have undergone. Some of the changes I have undergone that I’ve traced directly to my MDH are:

1. Bodily functions – I burp at the dinner table, but only when my boys are around to hear it. When I’m alone, I see no reason to burp aloud. Who would appreciate it?
2. Holes – Whenever I pass a hole, I have to stop and look in it. I have to poke a stick in it and try to see what comes out.
3. Creepy crawlies – I could care less about things like bugs, snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles and all manner of creepy crawlies before having boys in my life. Now I look for them wherever we go, catch them, and study them intently. Except for spiders. I despise spiders and so do my boys (my influence on them?).
4. Movies and T.V. shows – There’s rarely a chick flick in my life. I am a shoot ‘em up convert (think Quentin Tarantino). I also watch Pokemon, Power Rangers, SpongeBob and Jimmy Neutron. As a matter of fact, I am in a hotel room in Louisiana right now with no obligations and complete control over the remote control, and I am watching Fairly Oddparents.
5. Video games – I could have lived my full adult life without ever having a video game system in my house. Now, you will often find me on the computer looking for hints and cheats to help us get past a level that has us stymied. As soon as I finish this post, I am going to do a search for how to climb waterfalls in Pokemon Ruby.
6. Halloween – Christmas is still my favorite holiday, but Halloween is an extremely close second. I love decorating the house, dressing up, and carving pumpkins.

Last year's pumpkin carving.

I am open to being influenced by the boys in my life. Most of the things I’ve allowed in have brought a sense of fun and spontaneity that I didn’t have before, being the (to quote my sister) anal-freak that I am. I will also continue to try to rub off on my boys. My best bet and most worthwhile efforts will be to live my life the way that I hope they will choose to live their lives. Have I had any success thus far? I think so. My boys are sweet, polite, helpful and sensitive, when not acting like complete hooligans. And, you should see them dance. They definitely did not get that from their father.

P.S. I won't be posting tomorrow as I will be traveling home from Louisiana. But, check back on Friday for the end to my husband experiment.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Heather, your story is a great one. I've been inspired to do an experiment on my own family. But, what I've learned most about your story is how important family is. The more involved we are with our family the more we want to learn about them. Thus, creating a bond like super-glue. Thus leading to a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle so rewarding!

Thank you for reminding me to stay like super-glue with my family!

Brooklyn, New York