September 28, 2009

Oh Boy, Oh Boy

Today's post is by my friend, Annie. Annie and I have been friends for 10 years or so. Maybe a little longer, actually. She and I really shouldn't be friends. We weren't really ever meant to be friends. And once we became friends, odds were good that we should have drifted apart and not really kept in touch. But our friendship has endured. And for this, I am incredibly grateful.

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I grew up with 2 sisters. My husband had 1. So I joked during my first pregnancy that I the baby had better be a girl because I didn’t know what to do with boys. Two sons later, I’m learning that boys are very different than the world of girls I’m familiar with! My favorite illustration of this so far came when I took my 2 boys to visit a friend of mine who had a daughter. The little girl took her play stroller and pushed around her baby doll leisurely, then putting her in a high chair for a snack. My oldest son then took the stroller, loaded it up with matchbox cars, and after a harrowing ride across the room, threw the stroller sideways, spilling cars everywhere and exclaimed to me, “Uh oh! Crash!”

My own observation of my sons has amazed me at the range of noises that come built-in for boys: cars, trucks, trains, tools, bikes, vacuum cleaner, and lots of burping and spitting. I’m also amazed at the way any any object can become a car and any surface can become a road. Little boys do not walk – they only run. And they think violence is funny. In a my playgroup of 9 moms, 6 of us have 2 boys. Here are a few of their comments about the surprised and joys of boys:

“One thing I realized was how little I understood boys, even at the earliest age. I actually emailed my dad and husband, "What IS it with dumping things out of boxes? Is it the noise? Exploring gravity? The need to see the bottom of the box? WHY must all boxes be systematically emptied out onto the floor?" I just felt like if I could understand the fascination, I would be a little less exasperated. :) I am also continually surprised how melty I feel when he hugs me and says, "I love you, Mommy." The fierce affection of a small boy is something I never really anticipated.” (from Melanie)

“I remember feeling a little apprehensive about the issue of competition - I didn't want the boys to be always comparing each other and trying do out do each other. I remember another guy (who had a brother close in age) telling me that he felt like competition was a good thing. He was much better at a lot sports and academic subjects than he ever would have been if he didn't feel like he had to try to stay one step ahead of his brother. I'm starting to see that with my boys now too - Luke was not content to let Brian [the younger brother] master the tricycle before he did!” (from Rachel)

“I can start with fears/worries about raising boys. Being a woman, I have no idea how I’m going to raise two boys!! Micah has so much energy, and I can tell already that Dylan is going to be just as active, so I’m worried about keeping up with them. On a more serious side, I’m worried about stifling their “boyness” because I don’t understand it. I want to encourage them to explore and be boys even though my mind says, “let’s keep it clean and under control around here!” [My husband] is great to remind me sometimes that boys just need to be boys.” (from Andrea)

A great resource I came across this summer, and am recommending to EVERYONE is the book, “Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys” by Stephen James and David Thomas. These clinical counselors-to and parents-of boys give an amazing, realistic, practical, and entertaining look at raising boys. They state, “Over the past few decades our culture has adopted a model of parenting and educating children that doesn’t affirm, celebrate, or embrace a boy’s hunger, passion, or wildness but rather seeks to tame it. As a result, many parents…find themselves frustrated, confused and wearied by boys’ behavior. The truth is, boys don’t need to be tamed – they need to be understood, loved, challenged, and encouraged.” If you have a boy – go read this book!

I know that my journey of raising boys will bring me back to my knees in prayer over and over….and over…. And I know that God promises in his word that his grace is sufficient, and his power is made perfect in my [parental] weakness (2 Cor. 12:9, parentheses mine). Being out of my comfort/confidence zone with boys has given me an opportunity to turn to God more and more. Let me note that I know there are plenty of challenges in raising girls too. But since the wonderful keeper of this blog is welcoming her second son into the world this week, I wanted to share my thoughts and encouragements with her. Congrats, Sara!!

4 comments:

K said...

I am continuously amazed at the way they can turn ANYTHING into a 'gun.' I made my step-sons put away their toy guns when my oldest was a baby. My son was NOT going to play with toy guns. One day he picked up his sister's Barbie doll, held it by the arm, pointed the feet at someone and said, "Pow, POW!" as he 'shot' them. This from the boy who'd never seen a toy gun or a real gun. I realized at that moment that it was a losing battle.

Good luck, Sara! I have 6 boys and 2 girls. The boys are easier.

Annie said...

K - I witnessed the same thing when my youth pastor's son (who'd never seen a gun) picked up a stick outside and shot other kids. Since my boys are only 3 and 1, i'll be on the lookout for this phenomenon :)

sara - i did some math and i think we've been friends for 13 years. we probably met right about this time in the fall. glad it worked out (even though it wasn't supposed to).

Taunya (the 1 sister) said...

Annie- I have a strong suspicion that the boy I am carrying now will be quite different than the boy I have been trying to guide for the last 12+ years ;) BTW- i'm sure Steve has told you- we grew up in a house with no Star Wars, guns, knives,HeMan, ect. I now have to be careful doing laundry, as it's not unusual to find shotgun shells, fishing hooks, and various types of knives in Timothy's pockets. I've been known to say 'Just DON't take them to school!' <3

Heather said...

Sara,

I have been reading (aka "lurking") your blog for quite a while (can't quite remember how I came across it) & enjoy how you see life. I swiped a paragraph about the "Wild Things" book for a friend of mine expecting her 3rd boy & overwhelmed at dealing with boys in general. I hope that's ok.

Thanks for your insight!