The Horror: Male Toddler Acts Like Boy; Lefty Dad Flummoxed

Are you like me, Folks? Are you a fan of absurd comedy, like Monty Python’s? Then treat yourself to NBC’s Today Parents Newsletter where you’ll find pieces like the April 21 essay by one Jay Deitcher – so bizarre it must be an update of the classic Coal Miner Son sketch.

Deitcher is “a writer, stay-at-home dad and licensed clinical social worker with over a decade of experience as a therapist for children.” In other words, he’s progressive’s progressive, who prided himself on “blurring gender lines” and, frankly, seems to hate himself for being born a man. He was determined and bound to raise his child like a sociology experiment. Reality hit.

Avishai became a 2 year old and demanded that my son wear tractor shirts. My mind began to spiral into despair. My worst-case scenario mentality was numbing. I imagined a world in which he would be a stereotypically masculine man. 

It was horrible. See, Deitcher had “always judged other guys who seemed boxed in by masculinity, but 3 ½  years ago, when I became a stay-at-home dad, my bias skyrocketed,” even as his testosterone plunged. 

Deitcher was determined to out-feminine the wife he married when it came time to raising Avishai. “Every day I fed Avishai and cuddled him and soothed him, Deitcher writes. “We co-slept, and he snoozed with his head resting on my chest, listening to the rhythm of my heartbeat.” 

Even better, “Once my son could walk, I paraded him through the park while he rolled his baby doll down the sidewalk in its stroller.” My favorite part is where he admits to hiding football-themed baby clothes in “the depths of his closet, never to be found.”

This is perfectly normal. 

“But then came the tractors.” The Rise of the Machines had nothing on this trauma. It was a hobby that his son loved and found children programming with tractor tractors. Deitcher believed it would be a passing fad. “But when he demanded the shirts, I felt like I failed him. I pride myself on blurring gender lines. I wanted him to, also.”

(“Coal mining is a wonderful thing, father.”)

However, the ending is happy. Deitcher is now able to keep his anti-man prejudice in check and has come to love and respect the tractor. Avishai “had to define his own identity, not influenced by my own bias of what I deemed to be too masculine.”

You can make progress with patience, open-mindedness, and integration.


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