James Dobson explained that at a certain point in the in utero development of a boy foetus, copious amounts of testosterone flood the system and change the make-up of the foetal brain irreversibly. It is this "testosterone deformed" brain that accounts for a male's competitiveness, aggressivity and risk-taking behavior. This rather unkind but witty explanation of strange behaviours exhibited by Little Boy, and never before witnessed when The Daughter was small, made it easier for me to accept and understand my son. It was convenient you see. What I didn't understand, I attributed to "testosterone deformation", and over time, I grew to love this deformation dearly because it certainly made sure that Little Boy was everything one would want in a good son.
Nonetheless, testosterone deformation was also cause of great anxiety for me in our trip to France. After all, in our family, we have 2 testosterone deformed people - The Husband and Little Boy.
At one point in our trip, we had to cut across central France. Smack in the middle of France is a mountain range called the Massif Central. There was snow and ice on the roads and I was of the opinion that we should take a longer and more circuitious route in order to avoid all the mountain roads. The Husband (being testosterone deformed from birth) was keen to bash through the mountains. "Press on" he said. "Be brave" he said. "We can do it" he said. "Don't worry so much" he said.
When our car got stuck in 7 inches of snow on a small mountain road, I was frantic. He said "Press on. We can accomplish this mission." And my son added his 2 cents worth "Mom, if we press on and get there, we'll feel a sense of achievement".
I stared incredulously at the 2 men in my family. A sense of achievement? What has a sense of achievement gotta do with anything? Who is competing with whom? Where is the prize? WHAT MISSION? I don't like cold. I don't like ice. I don't like snow. And there are bloody bears in these forests and wild boars and wolves... and I have no food in the car... and I dunno how to build a forest fire... and I am supposed to go through all these dangers because two testosterone deformed individuals wanna gain a sense of achievement?!
The hissy fit went on for some time, and eventually "Press on" became a vulgar term, and we went the circuitious route instead.
I have concluded that the male of our species possess an invincible optimism - a sense that with enough determination and effort, anything can be conquered and triumphs may be had. This is the invincible optimism that tells them confidently:
Little Boy : "If you look down the edge of a 10m deep well, you will never drop in"
Little Boy : "If you attempt to fly down one flight of stairs, you will land like Superman."
The Husband : "If you bash through the mountains, they will part and make a way for you"
Little Boy : "If you climb the neighbour's wall, the huge dog there will welcome you"
The Husband : "The black slope can't be very difficult"
I do recognize that it is this invincible optimism that makes men capable of many feats, and I am glad that The Husband and Little Boy are both testosterone deformed. It's just that they mustn't expect me to take part in their escapades and their death-defying exploits.
I am and intend to stay resolutely un-deformed.