house of girls, house of boys. having grown up surrounded by my own sex, i am now spending my adult life surrounded by the opposite. the change was slow and unnoticed at first. even now, i only quite realize the full scope of boy surrounding me in my eldest son, the tornado he is, the running, jumping, screaming, death-defying el chupacabra. he is so boy it is unfathomable. he plays with sticks and makes paper into light sabers. in fact, he makes everything into light sabers - food, cups, junk mail, crayons and colored pencils, cloth diapers and cloth wipes, blocks, the stuffed inchworm, silverware, pretty much anything remotely resembling a stick has the potential to become a light saber. i love that there is potential for play in everything around him at the same time i loathe being made to fight another round and of course the disaster left in his wake. but all his aggression is served up with a hearty amount of joy, something i find myself inadvertently trying to squash when the wreckage is just too much for me. there is such a tender side to him too - his need for me, his capacity to love and to snuggle. he is so surprisingly fragile at times, despite his whirlwind nature. he will crumble and cry at things that surprise me, and when i am angry and i am uncontrolled, he says, so sadly, fat tears upon his cheeks, "be nice to me." he is needy as often as he is independent. i want him to be who he is, i want him to be a whole person. i am learning daily how to recognize and appreciate all the parts of him - the flaws and the virtues, his varying capacities and talents, his strengths and weaknesses. it is all such a new journey for me, the everyday of living surrounded by all that is boy and ever realizing the complexities that entails. it is so easy from the other side of the gender pond to write boys off as one thing or another. in truth, there is much that they share in common with girls and much that makes them different. i am on the path of discovery everyday.