I have boys. When I embarked on this motherhood project I didn’t really think one way or the other about how boys and girls were different or how I would parent them. Six years later I had two children of the male gender and have since learned to “get” boys.
Fortunately, this is pretty easy.
Boys are straightforward. They wear it all on their sleeves. They do everything with abandon. Nothing is left unsaid, untouched, un-disassembled, un-dirty. They are loud. They are fun. They careen from one idea and activity to the next with amazing speed, yet they remain consistent, predictable. They are sweet. And rough. And tender, too. But if they are sad, or mad, or frustrated, you can always crack a booger or fart joke and everything’s almost instantly better.
We girls could learn a thing or two from boys. Some fart jokes, for one, but more important, how to forgive like a man.
Here’s the scene from our house this morning:
Noah wakes Owen up by getting in bed and kicking and shoving him.
Owen wakes up cranky. (Imagine that.)
Owen says something mean.
Noah cries and wails. (He’s the younger one. Younger siblings develop the ability to cry real tears on demand and use this to their advantage in the sibling wars. I wonder how many actors are younger siblings.)
This annoys Owen. (Again, imagine that. I’m the oldest too, so I have some sympathy for what Owen’s putting up with here.)
Owen says something like “if you do that again I’m gonna punch you in the face.”
Noah responds by calming walking up to his brother and kicking him in the shins.
By now they are near me. Owen looks at me and knows he can’t punch his brother in the face. Too risky. So he opts for scaring instead, a favorite big brother tactic of his. (I’ve discovered he goes into Noah’s bedroom and whispers scary stuff as his little brother is trying to go to sleep. Wow, even I – a legendary mean big sister – never thought of something that wicked.)
Noah screams and wails.
Now I’ve had it: “If you two don’t stop picking on each other you are going to lose your screens for the weekend!” (Screens are only allowed on weekends, so this is a big deal.)
They zip it.
I go upstairs to take a shower and lock the door. (Who knows what might go on downstairs but I don’t really care anymore. If there’s blood, I think, Owen will feel bad enough to come get me.) When I come back down, this is the scene I see:
And the thing is, it’s like this all the time. Scream, cry, hit, yell, scare, punch, trip, take stuff, wreck stuff (Noah just destroyed Owen’s Lego Millenium Falcon!), tease, pinch, bite, whack. Then one minute, or even 10 seconds, later it’s “hey buddy, let’s play Legos.”
The fight never lasts. Never a grudge. No sullenness, or guilt, or recriminations. It’s almost as if a fight is just one of their dozens of daily diversions, part of the day, and part of the play. In the end, they are brothers. They are always brothers.
I love boys.