Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raising Boys

Have you noticed those nifty tabs along the top of the blog?  I feel so savvy for figuring out how to put those up there (it's actually pretty easy), and have had fun as I begin to fill them with (hopefully) very useful information.

There is one tab along the top that is missing.  It is the tab called "Raising Boys."  A subject of which I feel I must be on my way to becoming an expert.  But that is just the thing.  Raising boys baffles me.

Their behavior.  Their energy.  Their way of communicating.

Those who know Humboldt County, California know it's a liberal area, especially Arcata.  I attended Humboldt State University, a liberal college.  My experience here is that there is a strong tendency to group male and female, boys and girls all together as far as behavior and interests go.  But, I will tell you what, even in this area where it is not okay by any means to stereotype a person based on gender, I have heard time and again a mother of a boy relate that it is... different.  Raising a boy in many ways different than raising a girl.

And this is where I am stuck in my parenting journey.

First, I'm not a man (gasp!).  I had a sister, not a brother.  I freely admit to hoping for girls each time we were pregnant.  Why?  Well, to be honest, the way boys play is a little disturbing to me.  I don't know what to make of it.  And Calvin, well he is at the age where his play, his way of communicating, his approach to exploring his world is starting to make me wonder if I am supposed to discipline him and discourage him from using forceful language like "I'm going to jab you!"  Or, is it okay to just play along and feign death as he wields his imaginary sword?

He is an absolutely beautiful boy, our Calvin David.  Just this afternoon he leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mom, I love being your child."  And the girl, sister, daughter, mom, and woman that I am wishes he would be that caring little bearer of endearment all the time.  But he is that one minute, and the next he is whacking his toy guitar on the bed after a solo rock concert as hard as he can just to test his strength.  Of course, the guitar will bounce off the surface of the mattress and smash him squarely in the forehead.  He will again be reduced to a cuddly mess of a boy, tears wet on his cheeks.  He needs his mama.

And that is the enigma.  Who am I to this boy?  What is he exactly?  Do I stifle his sense of adventure to say, "Oh, we don't jump from lofty heights in this house to test our strength lest we get hurt"?  Or do I let him (it looks like fun), and figure those couches weren't going to last forever anyways.

My sister and I were active, romp all around children.  My parents added on to their house to expand the area in which we had to flip and cartwheel, so I realize the activity is not just a boy thing.  But I remember being more calculated.  More safety aware.  The boys... it seems they are all "Do" and the think part comes later.  They are forceful.  Every body slam, every foot race, is an experiment in their own strength.  It's as if they are satisfying a deep need.

So, for now, I try to teach these boys that there is a time and a place.  Inside is a place to practice self control.  Oh to teach a 3 year old on a rainy day self control!  The key word really is try.  Outside is the place where amazing feats of strength are to be enacted.

I aim for the delicate balance of incredible patience and absolute consistence.  The wisdom to know which is appropriate and when.  I am happy at the end of the day if I actually did let my actions yell, er, speak louder than words.

And, I seek out the advice of experienced parents of active, brilliant boys.  What is a mother to do?

(No really, what is a mother to do?  Stories, book recommendations, links to posts about boys very welcome.  I will add them to a Raising Boys tab at the top as I collect and enjoy them.)


Jodie said...

I just read the book "That's My Son" which was all about mothering a son to help him become a good responsible man. I liked the book. It definitely put into words some of those stange behaviors I'm starting to notice in my not so little boy. I can't say it's the best because, hey, it's the only one I've read. I can't imagine having three of thm Kim. Wow, I give you many kudos!

Brandie said...

You have waaaayyy more experience in this area than I do! I just have to say that after three girls, I love everything about having a boy. Something I didn't expect was the connection he has with his Daddy. He is only one, but the look of respect and adoration on his face when he sees my husband just gives me chills. I am so thankful tha we were blessed with him.

katie said...

I love this post! And I have to agree, totally, with the differences between boys and girls, something I swore was not true before I had three girls and watched my friends who have boys. Yes, my girls are incredibly active, they love playing in the mud, riding their bikes... You name it. But there is not that complete abandon and disregard for safety that you were talking about, not that measure of agressiveness that I see in so many of the boys around me. It's been teaching me a lot. For a blog you might enjoy I would recommend, she's got 7 boys now (I think the 7th has been born), and posts lots about raising boys.
Your boys are so lucky to have such an intuitive Mommy, so in tune to who they are and what it means to raise them to be thinking, caring individuals who reach their full potential.

liz adams said...

I laughed as I read this Kim, I too only had sisters. My mom babysat two little boys once in awhile and I would watch them fight and wrestle and look like they were really hurting each other, and yet they were only playing. It was SO weird! I still see boys play like that and I'm like, "oh! you're going to hurt each other, ow! Stop!" I can only imagine what that must be like with three active boys. I am sure you are wonderful with them!

Liz :)

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