Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parents and Their Tribe

I am lucky enough to have two husbands (not really, stick with me, it's a story) - my Husband, Mike, and my Office Husband, Adam. Mike I chose to marry, Adam, well, I got stuck with him by whomever chooses office mates, but we soon realized we were a good fit. Like eerily good fit. We have similar senses of humor. Our sons are very similar in age (his is 4, my older son will be 4 in April) and they do the same stuff. We both curse way too much when the office door is shut (and some of our colleagues will tell you we do that even when the door isn't shut). We're both interested in our boys as people at this age. We both love science (although he's a microbiologist....ew...and he calls what I do "phychology" as a house joke). And neither of us can go to sleep if there are dishes in the sink.

Now saying these things about us isn't automatically saying the opposite about our spouses. I'm not in any way saying that Mike isn't interested in our sons as people at this age. But what I can tell you is that he feels more comfortable with older kids, say 11 years old and older. Kids you can have a conversation with, those are his tribe. While I wouldn't choose tweens and teens as my tribe, I don't dislike them. But for me, people under 4 feet are where it's at. Even when I worked as a therapist I chose to work with children between the ages of 3 and 8. Adam and I were talking about this the other day and he agreed that he enjoyed hanging out with his 4 year old and that like Mike, his wife seemed to be more keen on older kids.

Liz's tribe - the small people

Adam brought up a good question - he wonders if our spouses will look back when our sons are, say, 11, and feel as if they "missed out" on the earlier years because we play similar roles at our separate houses. We're the organizers, the play-ers, the ones who the children approach and ask, "You play with me?" We're the ones who can name all the characters on our kids' shows (while Mike makes this pained, "What the F is this show?" face). Last weekend Adam texted me that he spent 4 hours setting up train tracks and taking them apart (and rebuilding them) with his son. Mike spent 4 hours playing video games and hanging out with my 13-year-old step son.

I'm sure that when the boys are older Mike will be taking them to ceramics classes (and I'll be making the pained "What the F is this?" face because the idea of touching slimy doesn't appeal to me) and playing video games, the things that he enjoys doing they'll be able to do. But at this point Sage would eat the clay and Silas would run around an art class yelling, "Hey guys! Hey! Do you want to play?" Just like "regular people," parents have things that they prefer to do. They have people they prefer to hang out with. Sometimes both parents enjoy all ages of development in their children. Other parents love the early years and are less joyful for the tween and teen years. Other parents are not matched - one loves Littles while the other loves Olders. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder if that's beneficial. While I may be feeling as if I'm more focused on the parenting thing right now, Mike may be The Guy that my sons talk to and need when they're teens. I have no idea how teen boys think. I wasn't one. And I didn't talk to many. They were weird.

How does this work in your house? Do you have a specific age group that you feel you can connect with better?