I've always found the argument of 'nature versus nurture' to be really interesting. I'm for and against a lot of things on both sides of the argument, so I couldn't say which one I agree with more, though raising Toby in exactly the same environment as my sister and I were raised has turned out to be an interesting experiment.
Most of you know, my parent's live in the country. We have a 30 acre property and about a half acre piece of dirt that we cultivate with vegetables every year (mostly my Granny and Opa's doing, who live next door.) We have two tractors, one big and one small. We've always had animals of some kind; when I was little we had chickens, cats and a dog; currently we have three cats who live outside. We have a bush with a stream and walking trails. We have wildlife regularly walk through our yard.
My sister and I could have cared less about the tractors when we were young. We were told to stay out of the way if Opa was mowing the grass or snow blowing, but that was about it. I tried to learn to drive the tractor when I was maybe 12 and I hit a tree and never wanted to do it again. I had my own vegetable garden, but it got forgotten and dried out half way through the summer. I loved our cats, and my sister and I played with them constantly.
Toby on the other hand, living in the same house with the same people around and the same routine, took an intense fascination to the tractor each time Opa drove around in it. This turned into pointing out every tractor on every farm on our way to and from town. Which turned into me needing to learn the names of a whole host of farm equipment so I wasn't just saying 'tractor' to everything that moved.
Tractors evolved into construction equipment. Construction turned into carpentry tools.
Yes, I encouraged Toby's fascination, but by no means did I force it.
I also encourage him with different kinds of sports and activities outside, but it always comes back to wanting to sit on the tractor or hit something with a stick or a hammer. Including our cats, which despite my best and loving efforts is still a problem. Yes my sister and I chased them around, but we never wanted to terrorize them the way Toby seems to think is fun.
People say 'Oh, it's just cause he's a boy. Boy's are like that.'
Alright, well my boy also regularly asks me to tie pieces of fabric or bath towels around him to make a dress. He asks to have his nails painted when I paint mine. He runs up to my mom while I'm cooking dinner and exclaims "Gramma! Mom is just making a FABULOUS dinner. You should SEE!"
Today he was eating carrot sticks when he declared that "This one looks like a pony! I'm not going to eat it, I'll save in in the fridge."
And 10 minutes later began telling me how he was going to chase a mouse behind a tractor and BAM it with a hammer.
On the way to town now he'll comment on the BEAUTIFUL HORSIES, and then THE HUUUUGE TRUCK WITH A TRAILER THAT HAD AN EXCAVATOR ON IT!!! in the same breath.
I feel like, yes, he is a very stereotypical boy, I blame genetics; but he's also been nurtured to understand beauty and nature. He's naturally very quiet sensitive, but he's also has a natural rage that rears it's ugly head from time to time.
So it's hard tell, where does the effects of nature stop and the effects of nurturing begin? Are we nurturing our kids to be their acceptable 'self', or are we trying to nurture them into what we think they should be like?
I encourage dance and yoga, as much as I encourage soccer and hockey. He likes them all, but is clearly not interested enough to be an Olympic athlete. And maybe I do have a secret hope that he'll end up on So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 20, but I know it's not likely to happen.
Based on now, what seems likely is that he'll end up doing carpentry, at least as a hobby. He'll be a good cook even if he's not a chef. He could run his own farm one day if he keeps up the interest.
But again comparing to my sister and I, I was always the tomboy and my sister was the princess diva...and in the end I'm the one who went to school for fashion design and she's the one who gets excited over parasitic cat testicles.
You can do any amount of encouraging and your kid will still rebel against you. Nothing is ever expected.
Hopefully Toby finds a way to vent his aggression properly and is at least ingrained with the knowledge that he can be whoever he wants to be.