I think one of the most appealing things about your blog posts here is that you are a man and not, well, a sissy. It is very encouraging to read your parenting stuff written in a way that is not emasculating. (And yes that matters.)
That felt good. As a preschool teacher I work in a field dominated by women and it’s of consequence to know that it hasn’t entirely feminized me. To be honest, I’m not even really sure what that means, and I have nothing but respect for femininity, but remaining masculine is important to me nonetheless.
There’s a lot of twisted machismo out there, I know, and I’m the first to admit that testosterone might be the most dangerous substance known to humankind, but I’m proud to be a man. I’m proud to be a man who works with children. I’m proud to be a man to talks about poop and pee and feelings and love.
Yesterday I posted a video about the love we have around us every day. My friend and co-op parent Lynn raised a valid criticism:
Sorry, but I just can't get behind this one. The idea, yes, but not the words. Why would we talk about love in the language of war and violence? Love is not a 'weapon,' it does not spread through 'bombs' and it does not need an 'army'!! It needs better words and a new language that frees us from these old paradigms of conflict. We deserve a more beautiful way to talk about and be with love...
She’s right, of course. I admire this video’s effort to evoke the supreme, urgent power of love, but it fell short in that regard. But it wasn’t the co-opting of militaristic words that jumped out at me. It was that harp sound track? Yeesh.
I think the video would have been more powerful with this more masculine soundtrack about the power of love (sorry about the quality, but I wanted a clip from when they were still young):
Not to deny its feminine side, but without the muscle of masculinity love can seem limp. It lacks dynamic force; its full-throated Roger Daltry scream. Love is nurturing and warm and cuddly for sure, and those are good things, but it can also knock you out. It kicks over the drum set, rips off its shirt, and makes you scream with mindless joy.
It’s the male aspects of love that make us laugh until it hurts, jump off of garage roofs, and play fools. It’s also the masculine side of love that causes us to join hands, to rise up, to overcome.
Moments after I got Paul’s message, I received an email from a colleague:
I have been reading articles on fathering and parenting, etc. Would love to hear your views on the various aspects and influences of being a hands-on dad.
Over the years, many parents have told me that they chose Woodland Park because I’m a man.
Hundreds of people have said, “We need more male teachers.”
I’ve never known what to say to any of this. I’m a preschool teacher because I really like doing it. But if I were to hazard any kind of comment on the “goodness” of being a male who works with young children, it would be that I’m a weight in the balance to counter the (real or perceived) preponderance of feminine love in children’s lives. What a great problem for our children to have.
Nearly all of the kids who have ever come through Woodland Park already have at least one strong, present male figure in their lives. Most have many. But I know that for a few hours in the day, I will be front and center in those children's lives, and in part I take it as a responsibility to be a good example as a man.
And I only hope that as the children pass by me, they don’t pass without knowing that I love them.
And now if you have a few more minutes, here’s another non-sissy rock n roll video: