My son’s right central incisor finally came out. He had been working at it for weeks, for sure, pushing and pulling, wiggling, twisting. A bright and logical 8-year-old, he bit into apples and carrots with zeal trying to get the job done.
Despite my desire to get my gauze-covered fingers in there — perform minor surgery with pliers or thread, tweezers or whatever — I left his mouth alone and let him grapple with that tooth.
Finally — in the grocery store nonetheless — his tugging paid off, and he pronounced, with a newly exacerbated and terribly cute lisp, that the tooth had come out. We opened a box of tissues in our shopping cart and swiped at the trickle of bloody saliva on his chin.
My freckle-faced boy looked up at us and grinned a juicy, one-big-hole-on-top grin. That new smile was beautiful, and for a moment I fell into a movie cliché: The video slowed down, the orchestra music rolled, and I teared up taking in that sweet face. My little boy. My first-born son. So funny, smart and cute — cereal-box-cover cute now with that missing tooth.
How I love him.
A couple of days later I came across an essay about mothers and sons, and it got me thinking some more. The author, Kate Stone Lombardi, writing for the Wall Street Journal, suggests that we have, as a society in general, become afraid of mother-son closeness. We call boys who love their mothers “Mama’s boys” and label mothers who love their sons as either smothering, controlling or all-out Jezebels attempting to feminize males.
“For generations mothers have gotten one message: that keeping their sons close is wrong, possibly even dangerous. A mother who fosters a deep emotional bond with her son, we’ve been told, is setting him up to be weak and effeminate — an archetypal mama’s boy,” Kate writes.
Instead, she suggests, we would do well to consider that boys who have strong attachments to their mothers grow into less violent and more well-rounded, more socially competent men.
“There is evidence that a strong mother-son bond prevents delinquency in adolescence. And though it has been long established that teenagers who have good communication with their parents are more likely to resist negative peer pressure, new research shows that it is a boy’s mother who is the most influential when it comes to risky behavior …,” she writes.