I ran into yet another young father-to-be the other day who was dreaming of a son. Because he was a stranger who was sharing his dreams with the check-out lady instead of me, I held my tongue. That was neither the time nor the place for me to espouse the sum total of my observations over these child-bearing and child-rearing years.

This, however, is the place.

The truth is, these not-yet dads have this image of them with their Osh Kosh B'Gosh sons doing all sorts of guy things. In their imagination, they fish, throw balls and belch together. Manly things. All of these things will come to pass, of course. What they don't realize is that, generally speaking, there are anywhere from four to six years before the first father and son outing will occur voluntarily.

Now, while four to six years is the blink of an eye to the parent of a middle schooler, it can stretch on for quite some time to a new dad. And what these guys also don't realize is those little boys will be deeply, totally, head-over-heels in love with their moms.

"He's a mamma's boy" is often uttered like a curse when the male toddler reaches for his mother's leg when Dad is trying to coax him into the car for a guys-out trip.

Be careful what you wish for. For those beginning years, boys and their mothers have a tie that no amount of teasing or agitating can break. And moms love it. For the first time in their lives they are unconditionally loved without criticism by male creatures. It's too heady a feeling for us to do anything but revel in it.

Meanwhile, I've observed little females. They love their mothers, just as sons love their fathers. However, a little girl's eyes light up in the most special of ways when her father enters the room. They have a secret smile that belongs just to Daddy. And they will toddle happily to their car seats for a trip with their fathers, waving goodbye to their moms as they go.

I imagine there are exceptions to these things. However, I've never seen them. When they were younger, while my three sons and stepson undoubtedly loved their father, they'd rather go to the grocery store with me than to the lake with him. And whenever he made a move to the door, both my stepdaughter and daughter would look up eagerly to see if they were going to be included in his outing.

In time, it all levels off, and they love us equally as their parents. However, if you're a dad wishing for a son or a mother wishing for a daughter based on some mental picture of how your relationship will be, you might be in for a surprise.

It'll be the first surprise of many as you and your children grow up together. So put your preconceived notions up on the highest shelf you can find and prepare for the magic of the little ones you bring into the world teaching you more about your heart than you ever thought it was possible to learn.

Once you have your first child in your arms, you'll have an inkling of just how wise the old saying is that all you really need to wish for is a healthy child. And that's not for you. That's for him or her.

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Terry Murry can be reached at tmurry@eastoregonian.com or by calling (541) 966-0810.

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