“That’s my brother. My Mom calls him Captain Crazy.” Oops. Guilty mom alert and pretty sure I didn’t mean for the oldest to repeat that. But sometimes it’s not just one kid that’s crazy, it’s all three…and therefore I am crazy too. Every now and then it is truly insane around here. And by insane I mean the most unpredictable, unthinkable, and what-on-earth-are-we-doing kinds of days.
But we’re fighting a good fight here. A really, really good one. It’s a fight to raise men of faith with character, ambition, courage, and (one of my favs) a healthy sense of humor.
Have you ever just watched a little boy play? Maybe a three year old captivated in his own little world of dragons and swords (squirrels and sticks) with an uncontainable zeal for life and enough energy to run a marathon. Always on the move; jumping, spinning, and throwing himself on the ground. On multiple occasions I’ve questioned my children’s hearing because I literally must shout their names 3 times before they snap out of dragon world with a, “me?” Yes sweet child, you. I am trying so terribly hard to help you tame that wild little spirit.
It feels like a lost cause to correct every single thing that my children do in the course of a day. Why? Because it is a lost cause. In my mind, constant correction doesn’t tame the spirit, it crushes it. I love, love, love the wild little side of my boys so in these young years! The day to day is tough (understatement of my life) but my husband and I try to focus our efforts on a few broad categories and expect to focus more on specifics as the boys get older (check back in about 7 years for that post). And before friends and family laugh at these, remember that I said we’re working on these; we certainly have not mastered them.
LISTENING: My sweet boys have the biggest and brownest eyes you have literally ever seen.
I’ve learned that they have a certain stare that can be translated, “Mommy, I see your mouth moving but I’m not hearing any of your words.” My new approach is to make eye contact, give short and concise instructions, then have them repeat what I said. It works a solid 60% of the time. In my mind, listening and following through will be appreciated by future teachers, will get us closer to being out the door on time (I once heard myself say “put on your shoes” 12 times), and will certainly save my sanity.
RESPECT FOR STUFF: Literally everything falls into this category…toys, utensils, cups, papers, books, trees, flowers, chairs, shoes, floors, cars, etc… Little boys must touch everything…EVERYTHING!! I tell myself that it’s part of learning, which is true. However, breaking things is not ok. One of my pet peeves is things being ruined or broken just because “he breaks everything.” Don’t get me wrong here, my kids have broken, spilled, torn, and squished plenty of things but I try to stay a step ahead of them or at least use teachable moments to constantly encourage respect for ‘stuff.’
ADVENTURE: One look at kid entertainment and you’ll see superheroes, explorers, discoveries, and a whole host of action packed adventure. My sweet boys seem to be “adventurous” in quite scary ways; jumping off couches, scaling high furniture, climbing the door frames like monkeys, or sword fighting using any and every object that is remotely long or skinny.
It is truly a case by case basis to figure out what we will and will not approve of for the boys. Some of their suggestions are an immediate ‘no.’ But other suggestions have me coming back to a couple of thoughts; we are raising men and men love adventure and adventure is ideally both fun and safe. Will they possibly get hurt? Yep. Will they possibly build confidence? Yep. Will I possibly regret this? Yep. Will I possibly be overcome with pride? Yep. Is parenting a whole host of difficult questions? Yep.
CAMARADERIE: I am not competitive; never have been, and never will be. But these boys? I can’t even count how many meltdowns per day we have over who is the ‘winner,’ the first, best, fastest, tallest, loudest (my middle child always win this one), and the list goes on. The only real loser of these conversations is me! So we started to focus on brotherhood, teamwork, camaraderie, and we made a shift to encouragement over competition.
And let me tell you, it has been GLORIOUS. Good attitudes make winners and bad sports make losers. Talk about a good fight! Fingers crossed that this one pays off when high school sports begin.
Don’t misunderstand me here, we do a whole lot more parenting than these four things. But life with boys can quickly become a crazy house full of little minions that don’t listen, break everything they touch (which is going to be everything), run wild in dangerous ways, and allow natural competition to break one another down. We certainly don’t get it right every time but we’re trying and we’re fighting the good fights.
From the battlefield,