I have the nicest boys on the planet. Sweet little pasty things who never have enough hugs or books. I blame the “Otto” side of the equation on all accounts. Anyways, it renders me entirely useless when it comes to giving anyone else “boy” advice. Basically, my policy is to stand on the sidelines and yell, “Kill, kill, kill!” And then hope that someone at least gets a splinter. This obviously doesn’t work with everyone. I give them knives, pick axes, eschew helmets, I let them climb on our roof as well as the facade of Winco, I give them fire crackers, boxing gloves, throwing stars, and in the end – they’re still barely street legal. No one in our family has so much as sported a single stitch much less a broken arm.
It makes me wonder at how different boys are and how some must be so easy to stunt, cramp, and nag. Particularly the ones who don’t put up a fight. And how easy it would be for mothers to like them better that way. I think it is something we should be mindful of, especially homeschooling moms who have their boys around them all day. To realize that our boys are NOT supposed to be like us or maybe even be the exact way we like them. Maybe they’re supposed to be a little obnoxious. In a healthy environment women would no doubt exact a refining influence on their boys, just not the primary one. It’s good for boys to have a dose of caution, politeness, pacifism, and quiet – it’s another for them to be brined in it all day. I wonder if that is where the wedgie pants, tucked in t-shirt homeschool boy image comes from. The simple dilemma of Too Much Mom. It can’t be good for anyone.
One of my friends loves sending her boys over to play at my house. Like me, she’s okay with firecrackers, sword fights, and bicycle jousting. We like it when they get hurt and dirty. I even like it when they really fight, when things aren’t fair, when feelings get hurt, or when when someone doesn’t “share.” I always tell my boys that I don’t care what anyone does to them, I care about what they do in return. I don’t expect fairness, I don’t expect them not to offend you or vice versa, and I don’t expect you not to get hurt. But I do expect you to be tough, to get over it, to be a host, to be gracious, and to forgive or seek forgiveness. Somehow I think boys learn these things best when they are being run through the mill. Not when they’re sitting on your knee but when they’re thrown over someone else’s.
I also think it’s very important for boys to get hurt period. I’m constantly astonished by how terrified children are of pain. And onions. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing for it but to get over it as soon as possible. Life hurts. If you’re afraid to stand up to someone in a fight because you’re afraid of getting punched in the face, then you didn’t get punched in the face enough growing up. I’ve also witnessed enough street brawls to know how pansy-assed the majority of the population is. They would rather waltz around each other and wax poetic in insult than ever, ever, ever get hurt. If they did, they would cry. There is something to be said for taking it like a man. I don’t think anything makes me prouder than when one of my sons takes a soccer cleat to the back and goes down without a sound. Ahh yes, that’s the good stuff.
Don’t you wish your mother was a sadist?
Another thing I’ve grown to appreciate, other than plain ol’ dirt and violence, is my ghetto backyard. It has existed in ignominy for these last six years. I’ve complained of it and made excuses for it to all my friends, while closing curtains anytime anyone came to visit. “Don’t look out there.” Whatever you do. I think women like to have all things within their domain under control. Docile. Personally, I would like some landscaping. Hostas, pavers, heck, a fence that didn’t fall over in the wind…that would be nice. But in the interim, I like the fact that the kids can dig, pile debris in the vague shape of forts, have battlefields, burn stuff, and stack firewood for miles without me caring that it’s ugly. It really can’t get worse. Go ahead. It’s outside of my domain. It’s free.
You know all those other kids, in the nice houses in Hidden Springs, with the perfect yards? They have to play video games, organized sports, and wear helmets. You get to have fun. 😉