Well, maybe an aspiring redneck.
Actually, maybe redneck is not the right word.
Redneck has negative connotations. I just looked it up. Merriam Webster defines a redneck as: a white person who lives in a small town or in the country, especially in the southern U.S., who typically has a working-class job, and who is seen by others as being uneducated and having opinions and attitudes that are offensive.
Gus is white. He does live in a small(ish) town in the (sort of) South. He wants to be working-class, with dreams of being a boat captain or a carpenter. And he is pretty uneducated; he is only in first grade, after all. But I can't imagine him having opinions or attitudes that are offensive. He's a kind boy, charming and more sensitive than you might imagine. He looks out for people. He cares.
But his favorite song at the moment, replacing Girl Downtown by Hayes Carll (which I much preferred) is Boys 'Round Here. I assume that he heard it from my sisters or one of their boyfriends because I certainly had never heard it until Gus started singing about drinking ice cold beer.
When you have kids, you sort of assume that they will be something like you. And if not you, that they will at least be something like the other parent. But Gus, he is not me. He is not Tom. He is not Sena, and I will put money on the fact that he won't be Arlo either.
He is all Gus, a boy who doesn't look like any of us or act like us either.
Gus is proud of his buck teeth, and he talks with a twang. He loves to fish, and he wants to hunt. He hates wearing shoes almost as much as he hates wearing a shirt. He adores my sisters' boyfriends, who are varying degrees of country: men who buy him sling shots for Christmas, who take him on rockfish tournaments, who show him barns full of muskrat pelts.
He looks up to my brother and my friend Steve. He likes working in the yard and building fires. He likes eating meat, preferably with ketchup. He doesn't like to read. He will most certainly drive a truck one day.
If I had designed my own son, I would not have designed Gus. It would never have occurred to me to make a little man so different from Tom, so different from every boy I ever had a crush on. I wouldn't have planned for a country gentleman, which is actually probably a more accurate label for my eldest boy.
I'm so glad I wasn't in charge. I'm so glad he came out just the way he did. I would have totally screwed it up.
I asked him once if he wanted to be a lawyer like his dad; he said "I don't want to be a lawyer, just like dad. Daddy doesn't even like being a lawyer." Maybe he does have something in common with Tom after all.