The Adventure of Raising Boys
- 2009 13 Apr
Boys are a different breed. Ask any mother of the male gender, especially if she has a couple of boys with no sister in between to tame them. There’s a wildness in boys that just doesn’t appear in girls. And sometimes we moms are left standing with our mouths agape, wondering what planet our bundle of energy came from.
My youngest two boys are only 18 months apart. Several years ago I took them to a Mommy and Me Music course. One day while we were waiting for class to begin my little guys started wrestling on the floor. I honestly don’t know where my head was. Wrestling is not appropriate behavior for a classroom experience, but for some reason it didn’t faze me. I didn’t even notice it until the teacher (mother of two girls), said very sweetly, "Umm . . . is that okay?"
To which I smiled and replied, "Oh yeah. They’re just playing like they do at home."
Thinking back on that moment I hang my head in embarrassment. I guess after watching this male bonding ritual repeated so often on my living room floor, it just seemed normal.
I have three boys. Active boys. They’re smart enough and I’m glimpsing some musical talent, but they aren’t the studious, musical type. They’re the rambunctious, ball throwing, body banging, wrestling type.
I blame their father. After all, before the boys even crawled he would pretend they could knock him down. He’d take their little hands, form a fist, and help them hit him. Then he’d crash to the floor, making all kinds of male grunting sounds, and our babies would belly laugh. As soon as they were mobile the wrestling began—with Jerry letting our kids win, of course. It wasn’t long until my husband had four children climbing all over him. (Yes, even my daughter was tricked into thinking this was fun, though at least she outgrew it.) I’d watch their antics, thinking how great it was that my children had such wonderful experiences with their dad.
That was before their wrestling broke my favorite knick-knacks—and before the boys got big enough to shake the floor and pop the lights bulb hanging from the ceiling below them. These days I find myself often saying, "Take it downstairs or outside, boys."
There were times, especially when the boys were smaller, that I struggled not to be embarrassed by their wiggly, energetic behavior. For a while I quit taking them to the theater or other activities that required them to be still. Long church services were grueling. I prayed for short sermons and good children’s programming. But inevitably one of them would wiggle at an inopportune time, leaving my face a bright pink.
After one of these embarrassing moments, an older homeschool mom told me a story that eased my shame. Though she has 9 children, she didn’t have a son until child number four. "I used to get frustrated with my friends who had boys," she said. "I would watch their sons’ behavior and wonder why they didn’t get them under control." She gave me a sweet, reassuring smile and finished with a twinkle in her eye. "Then God gave me a boy."
Some well-known speakers and writers have encouraged me as well. James Dobson of Focus on the Family says most boys aren’t ready for the structure of a classroom until the later elementary years. I can see that. My boys have memorized Bible verses while roller-blading or bouncing. I even had one of those mini-tramps in my homeschool room. It was perfect for teaching sight words, math facts, and letter sounds. The boys would look at the flashcards and jump for each correct answer. Sometimes I’d even throw them a ball to catch in mid-air as we drilled these skills.
Another prevalent writer for men validated my life when he wrote that his sons repelled out of their second-story bedroom window. At least that hasn’t happen to me . . . yet! Of course the children did rig a rope going from our top floor to the lower level of our home. For years, until the rope broke, my kids (and any other child who visited) never used the lower stairs; they just grabbed the rope and took off swinging, often making weird George of the Jungle noises.
I have a friend who has only daughters. One day a bunch of us volunteered to prepare Thanksgiving baskets for the homeless. She was put in charge of a table of boys. Afterwards, she came to me, eyes wide. Said she understood my world for the first time. Instead of the normal girl chatter she was used to, she’d just been subjected to an hour of stories of injuries and the comparing of scars. (I think that was the day my son beat out the rest when they tallied the number of emergency room visits. He was quite proud.)
As my oldest son enters adolescence, I find myself trying to explain to him about girls—how punching them in the arm is not perhaps the best way to relate to them. But thankfully, I don’t have to train him to feel protective of them. God must’ve just wired him that way. I’ll never forget the time we were hiking in late spring. My daughter strayed a bit off the trail and we suddenly heard a screech. Before I could even assess the situation he had jumped to her aid, pulling her out of a snowdrift that covered her all the way to her armpits. I’ve also seen him defend little children and offer his coat to shivering females. Last winter was the first time I was the recipient of his warm jacket. I got this huge lump in my throat because it almost fit.
I guess my squiggly, wiggly boy days are passing faster than I know. Soon my house will be void of the banging noises caused when one of them jumps from the top bunk. Smelly hockey bags will no longer line my garage floor and "take it downstairs or outside" won’t be a part of my daily verbiage. I bet I’ll even be able to watch a chick flick in the basement without someone coming into the family room and shooting a mini-hockey puck. Until that day I guess I’ll just pray for the energy to keep up, seek to embrace their uniqueness, and try not to gape too widely.
Originally published on January 8, 2007
A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers home schooling hints, book reviews. Visit her website at www.soulscents.us. You can contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us.