Sunday, February 5, 2012

Little Boys, Future Men

    Boys, boys boys!!!  I grew up as the middle child in a family with three girls.  My parents divorced when I was nine years old, so I didn't know much about living with males until I married Todd.  Now, I find myself Mama to 5 amazing, rambunctious, rough-and-tumble little boys!  I truly believe God has a sense of humor.  Todd and I had our first boy after two daughters.  I remember people commenting when I became pregnant with my third child, that it was bound to be another girl since we already had two.  I'm not sure what logic there is in that argument, but we were delighted to have a boy.  I had no idea what I was in for.

     Even newborn baby boys are different from little newborn baby girls.  They make different noises, produce stronger smells, and feel more solid in your arms.  When they begin to grow up, they are often drawn to making car noises and tackling everything in sight.  Boys will often do things that I just can't understand.  For example, when my oldest son was about 4 years old, our baby's room at that time began to have a very strong smell of urine.  I thought maybe there was a stray wet diaper in the room somewhere.  I looked high and low, even under the dresser in the large, walk-in closet.  I just could not locate the old wet diaper I was sure was the source of this odor.  One of my older girls, who were 6 and 5 years old at that time, told me that our little 4-year-old son had been peeing in the closet of that room.  What!?!?!  I asked my little boy if that were true, and he answered yes.  He said that the girls would hog the two upstairs bathrooms, and if he really needed to go, instead of walking downstairs to go in the bathroom down there, he would go into the nursery closet and pee in an open spot right next to the dresser.  I investigated and decided that it had to be true, much to my dismay!  I found this very disturbing, and asked my husband and other mothers of boys if this were "normal" or a sign of deep emotional trauma.  My husband and friends assured me that it was within the "normal" range for a boy.  Okay, so after as thorough a cleaning as I could manage in there, air freshening, etc., and a very stern talking-to for David, he never did that again, and the smell faded.  A few weeks later I felt like I could never quite scrub the kids' bathroom enough to get the smell of urine to disappear.  I used Clorox, Lysol, and any other strong cleaner you can think of, yet it seemed to be in vain.  Again, I wasn't used to the boy-toilet splash factor yet, so I just figured that I was missing a spot on the outside of the toilet.  One day, when I went to empty the trash can in the bathroom (which was by the toilet), I discovered that it was about half-full of urine!  What (again)?!?!!?!?!!   Again I asked my husband and friends with boys if this was "normal", and again they assured me that it probably was.  I, on the other hand, was convinced that my child had somehow been traumatized, and this was the indirect result of that trauma.  Over the years, and after having 4 more boys, I have come to realize that boys can and do enjoy and explore their ability to urinate just about anywhere!  Yikes!

    And now--onto the realm of roughhousing.  Up until David was old enough to get in on "tickle time" with Daddy, the girls kept things to a very tame and manageable level.  Once we had a little toddler boy in on the action, tickle time became an all-out wrestling match, complete with attacks from the air (by aforementioned toddler boy).  The tiny little boy would launch himself from the top of the pillows on the bed and just fly through the air, landing on top of the pile of tickle-ers and tickle-ees.  At times there were injuries.  I began to glimpse how differently boys play.  Over the years with boys who are now ages 11, 8, 4, 2, and 2 months, I have been humbled many times over by the roughness of my boys.  We have had to train them to be gentle, to ask before wrestling, even with other boys (not all boys have the volume of brothers so used to really rough wrestling)--they are absolutely not allowed to wrestle with girls.  Try telling that to my two-year-old boy!  There have been occasions on which we have had to apologize to friends for the boys' rough behavior.  I have told my little men, "If you want your friends to enjoy playing and want to play with you, you should be more gentle with them!"  My guys enjoy games that involve soccer balls on the trampoline or throwing each other on the couch. They insist that they don't mind getting injured in the process of their play. As I write this, I have one little boy with just about the fattest lip I have ever seen, acquired in a game on the trampoline with other boys. He thinks it's cool. Another son sports a rather large and lumpy scar under his chin from flying onto the handlebars of his bike while riding at family camp. He thinks it makes him look tough.

    I am still trying to figure out the sheer physicalness of boys, and how to channel this energy in positive ways.  After all, I know God created them this way for a reason.  My job is to tame them and civilize them, while at the same time trying to preserve the "manliness" of these little men-to-be.   My mom raised three little girls.  We always had clean clothes, clean hands and face, prettily done hair.  She sees me with all these boys and tells me how lucky my friends are who have only girls--hahaha!  My mom sees the level of activity and energy, and it is exhausting to her.  Little boys *can* be wild!  I see the potential for strong, energetic, passionate Godly men who will change the world for His kingdom!  I am so thankful for these funny, strong, exuberant little boys who make me laugh so much and challenge me and make me a better person.  I feel it is a privilege to be entrusted with all these future men.  I am so blessed to be stretched and humbled by parenting these boys (and of course my girls, too), and I look forward to more years of laughter and learning.  Let's just pray that they can all safely survive their boyhood. 

 "The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name." Exodus 15:3

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