(Note: There’s a question/plea for suggestions at the end of this long rambly post)
It’s happening. My boys are turning into…boys! Ok, yes they’ve been boys since the moment of their conception but they are turning into real boys these days even as hard as I’ve fought against it. For some reason I thought I could somehow raise my boys to be gentle, sweet, good-mannered and clean boys and keep them from turning into the icky nose-picking-farting-burping-and-all-sorts-of-other-loud-obnoxious-noise-making-touch-everything-in-site-never-sit-down-and-be-still stereotypical boys.
Alas I’ve slowly come to realize that no matter how hard I try, my boys are going to be boys. And really, I am ok with that (mostly). They have grown on me and have mellowed me down. Even though I grew up with 3 brothers (who I thought were mostly disgusting and annoying at the time) and have been married to my husband – a man who used to be a boy - for almost 10 years, I still have so much to learn about this male gender. So far these boys have really humbled me and taught me a lot. They help me understand my husband better as I see what he might have been like as a kid. (It is a good thing we didn’t meet each other until later in life.)
I often wonder how different I would be as a mom if our first would have been a boy. Having a girl as our first set the tone for what I would expect of our first boy who came next. After the first year, our daughter has been really wonderful. She is (mostly) tame and sweet and obedient. Though she is definitely independent, she’s not overly rude about it. (I know, just wait until the teenage years right? Yikes). She is curious and has an amazing imagination and sense of creativity, but she is still very dainty and sweet in her play. We could sit together and read a book for hours without moving around too much. I think I get restless before she does.
So when our second child, our first son, came along that was the only experience I had to go off of. And really, he has been very mild and sweet comparatively. He definitely has more of a stubborn temper than his older sister. He drives me pretty crazy with his inability to listen, focus, and remember what I asked him to do the way I asked him to do it. I often think about tying his hands together when we are at a store since he just can’t help but touch everything in sight and mess with it. (disclaimer: I would never actually do this) I should leave a tip at the end of our shopping trips for any damages they’ll find once we are gone. But my son’s sweet heart consistently wins me over. Ever since he was little, he’s always been very affectionate with me with lots of hugs and caresses. He definitely loves his momma. His dramatic facial expressions amuse me and his nerdy silliness cracks me up, when it doesn’t annoy me.
It’s only been after his little brother was born that the real boy in him started to come out. This third child has more of a “no-fear” complex than his more cautious older brother and he definitely acts more like a “typical” boy. He’s also rather goofy like his older brother.
I actually caught him trying to climb the door hinges in the bathroom the other day. I wake up drenched in sweat sometimes from nightmares of him trying to jump off our second-story staircase or fly from the playground convinced he can. But he’s still my sweet little baby. I think I will cry when this new baby is born when I see how big he’s really gotten.
As the 2-year-old grows up more it’s been “fun” watching how him and his older brother interact together more, for better or for worse.
A few months ago things were really rough with them both. The 5-year-old has been thrown off a little by his little brother’s new-found independence and incredibly strong will. He’s not the only one who doesn’t quite know how to handle this crazy little dude. It makes me a little nervous thinking about what this third boy will be like.
Sometimes I think the 5-year-old gets confused about how to act with the little whirlwind but lately I think he’s taken the “if I can’t beat him join him” approach and joins in with his brother’s ornery wild side.
Dealing with these boys brings me to tears more often than I’d like to admit. When I try to control them and make them ‘change’ it usually just backfires in my raging face. The more I let go of control and just accept the chaos they naturally bring, the ‘better’ things seem to go…somedays. It’s a good thing I love them so darn much. When I spend more focused time with them it goes even better. I’ve also been trying to teach them how to share not only their toys better but also their trouble time. Hey if they can’t play nicely together they may as well share the same jail cell right?
And when they aren’t in trouble or playing, I try and get them involved in work around the house and this really makes a difference…even though it too causes many squibbles and squabbles. I guess I’d rather hear them fighting over who gets to set the table or water the flowers for me than not help at all.
One thing I’m having a hard time with though is the whole guns/swords/hi-ya! stuff. I know, boys will be boys, yadayada, and they will make a gun or sword out of anything. Since we haven’t let any “real” toy guns/swords in the house (yet) they’ve been rather creative in what they turn into their swords.
(His kind sister made him a “real” one…and then his older brother crumpled it up later…)
I’m not as bothered by the swords idea. Guns are so violent and…final. Swords seem to carry more honor than a gun somehow. Maybe it’s because of the skill involved in sword fighting or all the pictures of gallant brave knights slashing evil dragons to save the damsel in distress. I’m not sure exactly.
However, when it comes to boys playing swords vs. guns, I have to agree with Amber Dusik of Crappy Pictures, that playing guns can be ”safer” than playing with swords since they involve more physical contact than guns.
Good point aside, watching my boys shoot at each other still makes me grimace and shift around uncomfortably. When I was younger, I detested guns and swore I would never allow my boys to play with them. I did everything I could to stop my little brothers from playing guns. I still hate guns but I haven’t enforced any “no playing with guns” rule for our boys yet. Although my husband (surprisingly to me) was the first to say no to bringing toy guns in the house, even water guns. (Now that I think of it this might have been only because he didn’t want them squirting water in each other’s faces. hmm.) I also haven’t told my boys they can’t play guns with other boys who are playing this way. This would be an impossible rule to enforce unless I never let them play with other boys. I also don’t judge other parents in their gun-playing decisions…unless they allow their children to become overly violent or crude about it then I speak up in defense of my own children.
Is there a way to guide them so they can grow up to be men of honor and integrity…and yet still let them be the boys they are right now?
So what do YOU think? What thoughts/words of wisdom can you offer me on this subject of sword/gun fighting that can help me as I try and develop my own thoughts/policies for our family?
(p.s. this is not an invitation for judgement of what others do/don’t do, only asking for some helpful thoughts)