"It's really annoying," said Jack*.
Quinn was dejected and tearful as I buckled him in the car to go to his dad's without Monkey.
It's not like I always agreed with my ex in the best of times, but I question the purpose of this. Objects like security blankets and stuffed animals are called 'transitional objects' and offer comfort and consistency, especially in new environments (or, say, situations where they're shuttling from one home to another). Children outgrow them and leave them behind. Why can't that process be allowed to happen naturally, according to the child's unique evolution?
It's no secret -- since he has been profiled in everything from the New Yorker to Wired -- that my ex grew up in a male-dominated family in a male-dominated culture (South Africa) and works in male-dominated industries. He lives in a highly competitive world ("people play dirty," he told me once, "because they think they're going to die") and he's done very well in it.
But I don't want to see any child shoehorned into a definition of masculinity that forbids him to flourish as himself. It's why, when I saw my ex give a little speech that went along the lines of, "Quinn, in this world you can be a winner or a loser. Do you want to be a winner or a loser?" I lifted my hands and gave his new wife a WTF? expression.
Life is not a zero-sum game, even if business often is. I want my boys to maintain strong boundaries, yes, and be savvy, and not be ruthlessly taken advantage of, but at the same time to come at the world through service and soul. Elevate yourself by elevating others. Add value to the pie and make it bigger. Learn that failure doesn't make you a loser but is part of the learning process (and people who fear failure hold themselves back from their own potential, since growth demands errors and mistakes). Stuff like that. We live in new, interconnected times; we are wired into each other like never before; the division of public and private is transforming into something much more transparent. Acts of aggression that cause hurt, anger and resentment can come back to bite you in the ass. It's better to seduce instead of conquer.
I do not think this is naive, or a sign that I am weak. I have a fire in me and can take it to the mat when I have to.
* I'm using pseudonyms, obviously