Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Raising Boys

Sunday evening, I returned to my house.  It had been a long day of choir, church, putting together wedding invitations and then returning to church for a fireside.  So, when I opened my front door,  I was quite ready to enjoy the rest of Sabbath in relative peace.  Instead, I was met with noises that accompany the play and fighting of three restless and house-bound boys.  You see, my roommate's nephews were visiting.

My roommate was exhausted and I was too tired from the other activities to know exactly how to face the situation.  I texted a guy friend, "Come over."  

He came.  He played with the boys.  He entertained them and even the littlest one was soon trying to imitate his parlor tricks.  We played a card game that brought out name calling and fighting and even tempers, but he returned frustration with a smile, and insults with kind words and humor.  

Afterwards, I just sat and stared at him in awe.  

Me: "How do you do it?"
Friend: "I have eight younger siblings."  
Me: "I just don't get these boys.  Why do they have to fight and hit?"  
Friend: "You like Tom.  He's all boy." 
Me: "Tom was different."
Friend: "Was he?  He stole the girls' candy that they had been making for hours.  He hurt Polly's wrist.  He called people names and pulled his sisters' hair."  

Of course, my friend and I were discussing Tom Shaw, Jr. of An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott.  It's one of my favorite books and one of my main reasons for liking Tom in the first place was because Tom was simply 'a boy'. 

 I'd always liked boys who were boys.  In fact, not only did I hope to marry a man who still had a lot of boy in him (not a Peter Pan type who won't grow up but the type who hasn't forgotten how to laugh and have fun), I also hoped to raise boys myself.  

But now, after a weekend of these boys and a Saturday dealing with an entirely different type of precocious but equally hard to handle nine year old boy, my visions of adorable husband and sons were crumbling away before my eyes.  

Sometimes, I think I understand men.  Since I have a lot of tomboy in me, I somehow think that means that I have insight into the male psyche.  I am an engineer.  I love playing sports.  I adore airplanes and fast cars.  These are things that lend themselves easily to conversations with men and I deal with men on a daily basis.  However, it was quite the wake-up call to realize this weekend, that for all my 'boy' activities, being a single woman who lives with other women and is close friends with other women, I really do not have much experience with boys.  

Marrying a man, raising boys - this is all terra incognita.  It kind of overwhelms me to think that I've lived my entire life hoping for something of which I am entirely ignorant.  

Equally overwhelming to realize that for all this weekend did to open my eyes to the realities of my hopes, I am still desirous to be given the opportunity to try.  

I still want to get married.  I still want to raise boys.  

It's just going to be a lot harder than even my wildest imaginations had thought up before.  
I think I thought raising boys was something as idyllic as this.
Source: 
On a slightly similar topic, here is the interpretation of men's actions as relayed by a movie, a man and a boy.  

From the movie The Lorax.  
"When a boy does something stupid once, it's because he's a boy.  When he does something stupid twice, it's because of a girl."  

At this point in the movie, the dad sitting next to me leaned over to his daughter and whispered.  "That's true."  

I looked over at him and laughed.  He apologized for interrupting my movie watching.  I simply smiled, "It's a  good thing to know."  

Later, the precocious nine year old gave his interpretation.  

Nine year old: When a boy does something stupid once, it's because he's a boy.  When he does something stupid twice, it's because he's a human.  When he does something stupid three times, it's because of a girl."  
Me: Do you have personal experience with this?  
Nine year old: No.  
Me: Then how do you know it works like that?
Nine year old: Because I have human instincts. 

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