We had some one-on-one time together yesterday at Fircrest Park while your Mom took Matteo to his two-year doctor check-up. We played house and treasure hunt. You showed me how to use the climbing wall. The weather was hot, so we took a break in the shade with Greta. I used the time to ask about why you refused to participate in your last swim lesson. Your Mom told me you had concerns about a new teacher.
“How did you feel about having a boy swim teacher the other day?” I asked.
“I felt disappointed,” you replied.
The answer surprised me. Disappointment is a word with some real depth for a not-quite-four-year-old. But I get it. You were expecting the same teacher, who happens to be a young woman you’ve come to trust. I let you know that it’s OK to be uneasy about a new boy teacher or any new teacher for that matter. Your Mom and I can let you know when older boy teachers are good guys. I asked if you’d be OK if you had a boy teacher in the future to teach you soccer or dance, and you said that’d be fine. I let you know I coached soccer for kids your age when I was a younger man. You were still concerned with having a boy teacher for swim though. We left it at that. There’s something a little different about swimming at your age — going underwater, being held while you’re trying to stay above water — that I hadn’t entirely thought through.
I will never fully understand how you’ll perceive boys in this world. Your opinion will change with age and experience, and the median point of masculinity is a moving target. You should be apprehensive about boys you don’t know and even some you do. Unfortunately that concern will need to be greater with age. Your Mom still gets concerned occasionally by men she sees around town. That doesn’t really go away.
All I can say is, thanks for letting me know how you’re feeling. You’ll have two boys in your life you can always trust for the long run: me and Matteo. We have a job modeling good behavior for other boys to help make the world a little less disappointing for girls.