In the past few months, a few parents of young boys have asked me the secret to raising boys without losing your mind. I’m not sure I achieved that, but my boys have grown into really wonderful men–that, I think, is what they are really asking about.
It’s hard to believe that one day these boys, who at the moment are half killing each other, could possibly turn out OK. Most of us aren’t trying to raise the next president of the United States. We just want them to stop fighting, stop calling their brother names, and stop making such a mess. These parents just need a little encouragement that this, too, shall pass.
Talking with these parents has caused me to remember the days of having three young boys in the house. There were days (most of them) that it was total chaos. Since we homeschooled, they were with me all day, every day. There were always books and papers and toys everywhere. Buzz Lightyear broke the glass on a museum-hung, signed artist print as he was “falling with style.” They used whatever they could find to sled down the stairs. And, in case you didn’t know, boys’ laundry smells bad–really, really, bad.
One of the things I remember them doing happened when I thought the older two were mature enough to stay at home alone for a short time. But when I returned home, I saw the glass in the bird feeder was shattered all over the ground. What could have happened? I asked the boys about it.
“How did the bird feeder glass get broken?”
“Jason shot it with the bb gun.”
“Why were you shooting at the bird feeder? You know you are not allowed to do any shooting when I’m not home, and definitely not from the kitchen window toward the neighbor’s house.”
“I wasn’t shooting at the bird feeder. I was shooting the onion off the top of it and missed.”
“Why was there an onion on the bird feeder?”
“Because we didn’t have any apples.”
“Why were you going to shoot an apple off the bird feeder?”
“Because that was safer than shooting it off Tim’s head.”
Can’t really argue with that. As a creative homeschool mom, the thought went through my mind that this could count as music and history. No, no, I need to use this teachable moment to let them know what they did was very wrong.
“Don’t tell your father. Someday this will be a funny story. Today is not that day.”
And that’s how we survived boys, not taking anything too seriously, and always having each other’s back. Sometimes that meant not telling the other parent everything that happened in a day. It worked for us. We were always on the same page with discipline and direction for our family. So, it was OK if sometimes I didn’t know things they did and sometimes Dad didn’t know–we were on a “need to know” basis. I don’t even like it now when they tell me things they did that I wasn’t aware of at the time.
That’s how we kept our sanity. Well, that, and a lot of prayer. We prayed individually, as a couple, and as a family. We didn’t do everything right, but we loved each other. I see their cherubic faces when I read in Proverbs that love covers a multitude of sins. I think we had a good balance of overlooking inconsequential wrongs, disciplining when necessary, forgiving quickly, and laughing whenever possible.
So, I guess that will be my advice to these frazzled parents. And one more thing, hold the things of this world lightly because they are probably going to get broken.
Before you know it, the boys will be grown and dealing with their own little ones while you relax in the quiet of your empty nest and melt at the faces of your perfect grandchildren, who are driving their parents crazy.