My father isn’t allowed to buy my husband or brother-in-law weapons at Christmas anymore. That stopped after the machetes. I’m surprised it didn’t stop sooner with the crossbows. I know my dad laments never buying them throwing stars. But the weapons era has ended, largely because my sister doesn’t like dangerous things in the house with her child.
Dad has no sons of his own. He and my mom had Sarah and me, which meant that dad was surrounded by girls for the better part of two decades. His only male compatriots were the two male dogs we had over the years, one of which never learned to lift a leg while peeing.
I don’t think dad regrets not having a son. He loves my sister and me. He’s always been a great dad. But there was a certain lack of boy stuff that I’m sure he missed. He used to take me to fish and game shows when I was small. He’d weave through the crowds and I’d hold onto his little finger so I wouldn’t get lost. At one show he got me a bright pink tackle box that I filled with the only fishing tackle I ever wanted: sparkly pink and purple worms that I’m confident could never nab a fish. As an adult I visited my folks and discovered that my dad still has my old tackle box and bedazzled worms.
Dad loves his girls, but he still likes the roughhousing and camaraderie of boys. That’s why he was so tickled by his daughters’ choices in mates.
My husband and brother-in-law are both such boys. They play video games religiously, love gadgets, and think of grilling as an art. One year at Thanksgiving, my dad had 3 turkeys going on different devices so that he, my husband and brother-in-law could all tend one. There were only 6 of us for dinner that year. With 3 full-sized turkeys. I think one of them was even a turducken. None of them saw this as strange or extravagant.
It’s not that he couldn’t have gotten my sister and me crossbows or taken part in other typically “boy” pastimes. For all the unfortunate gender normative, we just weren’t very interested in camping, fishing, hunting, or “roughing it” in any way at all. In the same way that our husbands are such boys, my sister and I are such girls. And that’s just fine.
So now at Christmas there are no new weapons. But dad and the boys have taken to shooting dad’s guns in the meadow of the 20-acre ranch he shares with mom, trusting that the far-off “neighbors” won’t call the cops.