Yesterday I pondered “Why don’t we let little boys be little boys anymore?”
My little boy is “misbehaving” in first grade. He is “playing in the bathroom” (no way?!? Really? He never does that at home.) He is “talking to his friends” (right – definitely a problem). He is “being silly” (Am aghast! A true offence indeed).
I mock. I mock because I struggle. I know, just as well as the teacher knows, that all of his behaviors are absolutely perfectly NORMAL six-year-old boy behaviors (and girls too!). The problem is that he is displaying these natural inclinations at all the wrong moments. Most likely when he’s supposed to silently wash his dirty little hands and line back up to return to the classroom. He’s chatting with classmates instead of sitting quietly on the rug for the Mystery Reader. He’s sputtering or spinning or bumping around when he should have both feet on the floor and tracing lowercase “h’s” for the 100th time in his short little life.
I was never a little boy. I do not understand all that goes on in my little boys’ brains. Their world is total insanity to me. They leap over couches and curl under dining room chairs. They throw each other to the ground and smack each other’s heads. They will never ever lift the seat before peeing. Rocks fall out of their pockets. Snakes slither across their hands. Boogers and blood go straight into their mouths…along with Lego pieces, plastic bottle caps, and marbles (and flower petals and miscellaneous bush berries and countless other potentially poisonous or choking hazards!). There seems to be no rhyme or reason to their chaos or their constant energy. It is like a constant death wish thwarted by a vigilant (exhausted) parent.
But I do understand that we (as in all of us) are doing this wrong. We have exorbitant numbers of young boys with ADHD and medication to “quiet” them down. We have young boys expelled from day care centers. Behavioral charts. “Reward systems.” Detentions, suspensions, expulsions.
Gone are the days, it seems, when they played pick-up baseball in an empty field. Gone are the adventures around the neighborhood which ended when street lights came on or the neighbor caught them red-handed. Gone are the times of recess, dodge ball and tag.
I don’t want to be stuck in nostalgia. I don’t want my boys to get hurt (too much). But I do want them to be the “boy boys” they were created to be. I want them to be silly, impish, mischievous, creative, brave, daring, strong, boisterous, adventurous, wild, rambunctious rascals.
For I know that there are precious few years for them to be boys and so little time before they are whittled into “grown-ups” who act “mature.” Oh, what to do?
Dirty fingerprints on once white walls
Purple stains on carpeted floors
Beaten and ratty leather couches
Broken knobs on unhinged doors.
Tennis balls behind the piano
Abandoned socks under the beds
Ripped jeans and stained pajamas
Random “treasures” under their heads.
Gouges on the dining room table
Rickety wiggly dining room chairs
Board game pieces strewn haphazard
Window curtains marred by tears.
Dirty dishes, scattered toys
This is home to three little boys.
(Complimentary ear plugs and hand sanitizer available at the door. Please sign your acknowledgement of the dangers inherent upon entering such a place. Alcoholic beverages available upon request, signaled by a wink and a nod. Or a scream, yelp or whimper. Whatever works best for you. Welcome to our home.)