Family / Kids / Parenting

The Odd Couple Living in My House

Even before our ultrasound, we were confident that we were having a boy.  We had collected all sorts of non-scientific data and hearsay to determine that IUI (intrauterine insemination) yielded more boys. We had no girls’ names at the ready.  We assumed, wrongly or rightly, that we would have a boy.  We also assumed that we’d be able to raise boys just as easily as girls.  Note:  This is not going to be an academic discussion about gender stereotypes.  This is just a bit of fun, so if you want to read further about the things that go through my mind on any given occasion, I suggest you take off your Judgy Hat.  It’s giving you hat-head.

My partner and I skew femme.  Gabriella is definitely handier than I am, but she’s also the nurturing Italian mother with a warm smile and a soft bosom on which to cradle one’s head.  And while she’ll tell you that she owned a bowling ball when she was a member of a ladies’ bowling league, the ball was in fact pink, and she was as gifted in the bowling alley as she was on her softball team.  Not very.  Her words.   Not good with balls.  My words.  She may not choose to wear skirts, but recent trends indicate that skirts are quite manly, anyway.

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As far as where I sit on the butch-femme spectrum, I’d have to say that I’m more Jewish than femme meaning that my lack of interest in all things related to sports and tools is completely, genetically Semitic.  Also, my tendency to make sweeping generalizations about Jews is cultural and, therefore, completely acceptable…

In spite of our girly natures, we never doubted our ability to raise boys.  We would not be ruled by societal norms and expectations about maleness.  Furthermore, we would not be so foolish as to think we could be all things to any child regardless of gender.  But, the day that I taught our son how to pee standing up was the day I considered for the first time that some things may not be as easy as others.  Shaving and putting on condoms might require some assistance down the road, be it from male members of our proverbial village or instructional videos on YouTube.

The more I thought about my shortcomings, the more I thought about the kind of lessons I was teaching.  My mother had raised my sister and me to be ladies, and I, in turn, spent a good portion of my day raising gentlemen – mensches.  My tutelage revolved around good grammar, immaculate manners and squeaky-clean language.

Over time, I doubted myself as the older son became obsessively polite and outraged by crudeness of all kinds.  “I’m wondering if I’ve overdone the gentleman thing.  Should I teach him how to make fart noises under my armpits, Gabriella?”  She did not think it necessary.  “He’s fine, Deborah.  You’re not responsible for his nature.  He is who he is.  Just look at his brother.”

Fair point.  These two prim, girly moms (well, one prim and one well-mannered) have one Felix Unger and one Oscar Madison.  For you youngsters, that’s a reference to The Odd Couple, a television show back in the days when there were only 4 networks and when you had to make physical contact with the television to change the channel.  Felix and Oscar were two bachelors.  One was fastidious and the other was a slob, and they decided to share an apartment.  Hilarity ensued.

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Our Oscar can never resist puddles or piles of dirt.  He plays with his food and is free in his gaseous expulsions from various orifices though he does always say, “Excuse me.” Our Felix is proper and tidy.  Our Oscar is gregarious, and our Felix is reserved.  Our Oscar is free with his body, and our Felix is very private.  The other day, Asher (our Felix) yelled for me to come upstairs to stop Levi (our Oscar) from exposing himself to Asher.  I had to muffle my laughter when I discovered Levi’s natural talent for penis puppetry.

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Recognizing the innate differences in our two boys, I don’t worry that we two lady parents might not be man enough for our boys.  They are who they are, and they seem to be handling themselves just fine.

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  1. O god, sock puppetry. Thank you for the reminder. I was bracing for sock use in other ways (*COUGH*).

  2. I love both your Oscar and your Felix! Also – just a reminder – I’m totally down with flying out there to do the sex and condom talk.

    • You’re hired. As a matter of fact, I think you should consider a webinar series. Lesbian Family hosts: “Vikki Tells You What’s What.” Hmm….

  3. My sons are so different from each other — one’s a jock, the other’s a geek, etc. But they are both absolutely filthy and still think Axe body spray is a shower substitute. They have different fathers. WHO CAN I BLAME?

  4. Hey, I want a little photo in my flying disc like Vikki has.

  5. You make me laugh. Also, I’ll be humming the Odd Couple song all day now.

    I’m really questioning how much effect we have on our kids. Given how much time my two little girls spend with me, you would think they would be into hammering and dirt. Alas, all they want to do is play with princess dolls and costumes (which is pretty much all they got for Christmas from their aunts and uncles, btw.)

    • Your parenting provides a fantastic analog to so many of us gals’ experience. Thank you for sharing that. And having seen you swing a hammer, I can attest to the fact that your daughters are totally ignoring a *really* stellar example.

    • If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! You do have the legs for an above-the-knee, puffy tulle skirt.

  6. LOL I always thought I would have a boy. Never really imagined a girl but adoption brought us an amazing little girl. I am so NOT girly. I’ve been a tomboy my whole life and am completely unsure how to raise a girl who is already totally into princesses and tutus. Thanks for easing my fears a little. She will be fine without my lack of girliness.

    • I feel confident in assuring you that she will find her way to hearts and unicorns and glitter with or without you. Also, it could be a phase. Then again, you might discover latent girlie tendencies in yourself after your first trip to the nail salon together. (Insert wink emoticon here.)

  7. You get bonus points for working Penis Puppetry into a post on Lesbian Family. I can’t wait to see what kind of google searches this brings in.

  8. Also… Jack Klugman died last week and the odd couple song got stuck in my head. I had just gotten it out! Now it has returned. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the Penis Puppetry Points, Clare! I’ll stop at nothing to drive traffic. Next week, I’m going to have to compose a post around camel toe. Don’t ask how I know that camel toe will drive traffic.

      I was very sad to learn about Jack Klugman last week. For me, he was Quincy before he was Oscar, but the Quincy theme song isn’t nearly as catchy. Advice for shaking the theme song: a medley of theme songs from all the shows you used to watch as a kid. We tried to do this the other day with friends and found that the theme songs to “One Day at a Time,” “The Jeffersons,” and “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’ are real crowd pleasers…after a few glasses of wine.

    • Jack Klugman DIED?! I was not prepared for this news.

  9. Oh, if only we could get an “excuse me” around here. The best we get is “ex-fart-me.” Some days I feel like I could subtitle my life “Exile in Boyville.” But most days I think it’s fascinating, really, to watch these two guys evolve into themselves. Kinda like “Gorillas in the Mist,” but with lots of fart jokes.

  10. Fart jokes do not appear to be gendered. I am the prissier of the parents in our family, and I have no love for potty humor. Both Josie and Noah, however, think that the funniest thing on earth is to substitute the word fart or the word poop for any other word that might fit into a sentence. My claim that this is only funny the first time, and not really all that funny the 17th time, has been resoundingly rejected.

  11. Damn, why’d we have to get TWO Oscars? They’re both girls, but neither has a neat-freak atom in her body, alas.

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