As a boy, growing up invited a lot of curiosity. I was favored above my female cousins when it came to choosing play date events and deciding what to have for tea. Of course my parents had a certain set of rules for me, but sometimes I felt as if I had the liberty to override my parent’s decisions. So naturally, I always did what I wanted. At first it felt good, there was a sense of power involved. But as I grew up, I came to understand that with all the liberties given to me, the level of expectations were sky high.
It started with the kind of toys I was given to play with. Mind you, I loved guns, cars and robots, but there were times when I just wanted to quit being the macho guy and join my cousin in her make-believe tea parties. She seemed like she was having fun directing who eats what and how the table should be set. There was a kind of power involved in that. Power limited to her; and that made me want to be part of it, even if to just boss her around. But of course, bless my parent’s souls, they would never hear of it. Tea parties and dolls after all were too girly for a boy. I wouldn’t want to grow up all feminine now, would I? So I stayed clear of dolls of course.
Being a boy had its perks. I was allowed to partake in extreme sports and show off my skills on roller skates and what not. Once I was up and about skating like a pro, my tiniest desires to once play with dolls seemed ridiculous even to me. Then I lost balance and fell face first, bruising my chin and cutting my eyebrow. I let myself weep over the deep gashes on my face only to realize that was a grave mistake. I never saw my father look at me so disparagingly. It was like he was almost ashamed that I was in any way related to him. It took me a while to realize he didn’t approve of his son crying. After all, boys don’t cry; that’s just another girly thing.
That was just the beginning in my lifelong journey to be a brave and courageous man. When I was left alone at home because my parents had to work, I wandered about the neighborhood because no monster at home could scare me if I wasn’t indoors. When I got bullied and beaten up at school, I shrugged it off saying I could handle a rough hand. When I got mugged in a foreign land, stripped of my dignity and endured all the evil one could imagine, I stared at my blank reflection and repeated ‘boys don’t cry’ under my breath. When I finally lost my parents to a tragic accident and laid them to rest, I managed to greet everyone with smiles over my loss.