Thursday, June 08, 2006

Empathy and applause for my mother

It’s been one of those days. At 9AM I glanced up at the clock, thoroughly expecting to see the short hand at 4 and the long hand at 12. The hours from 6AM till 9AM felt like a full day. It had something to do with wild things”. We have two running around the house presently. This is “where the wild things are.”

I certified myself “boy-able” after Neels was born. Having grown up with three brothers, having been a tomboy since August 9, 1973 and having two sons automatically qualified me for understanding and raising boys. Or so I thought. Then Devan turned 3 and he threw off any remains of timidity he possessed. At the same time Neels ventured to perfect his climbing and balancing skills. Mischief became their main way of communicating love, and bloody or bruised limbs an honor to bring home. My dad often warned us that a single dog is never as dangerous as a pack of dogs. They spur each other on. I suspect, with all respect, that the same is true of boys.

I recently read a book that suggested that a boy is his own greatest threat to life. They do… and then they think (if at all). Large amounts of testosterone released shortly after conception damage their brains and kill some connections. (This is a medical fact, not a stab at men). Therefore also the general difficulty to multitask compared to women – some of the connections just aren’t there! Believing in a sovereign God who’s design in creation is indescribably good and perfect, I believe this occurrence is not by mistake and that it serves to equip males uniquely for their many purposes and callings. However, the way this physiological truth plays itself out in little boyhood did take me by surprise.

Having observed only the launch of my offspring’s capabilities, and anticipating many more hazardous endeavors to come, I am now looking for empathy and encouragement from those who share in my experiences. Allow me to share a few from the past week:

On my way to the store I found a slice of half-chewed spinach quiche in my pocket book (a gift?). The next morning, in a different bag, I found a cup of milk. Not a sippy cup. Neels decided that sliding down a slide is not thrilling enough. He now runs down it - frequently ending with a face-plant in the grass. Then I watched in horror as he sat down – and missed – the platform of the slide. He fell backwards and hit mother earth 5 feet lower – sprawled out on his back. Amazingly only 3 drops of blood to show for it.

Devan managed to fall off his bike and hit the concrete driveway face first. No other injuries than the road rash now adorning his face. A one-leg-stand stunt on the swing ended up with a winded boy spread out on the grass. A day later he got his head stuck in the canoe trailer in such a way that it took all my brainpower to figure out how he got in that predicament and how to get him out without calling 911!

Only a boy would wonder if a lawnmower could do summersaults - and attempt to find out! The neighbor’s lawnmower was in our carport so Scott could make some minor adjustments to it. Well, it now needs major adjustments. It can make summersaults. Several. Add the delight of an exposed blade to investigate to that and you have boy heaven.

It is certainly a boy’s joy to climb on top of and tumble over his brother. I love it when they play together. Unfortunately, a romp like that almost always ends in tears – Devan typically with bite marks on his arm (or whatever body part that was teeth-accessible) and Neels with a new bruise somewhere on his face. The latest one is perched on the bridge of his nose. It came from Devan taking his “slingshot” into the activity and “accidentally” killing Goliath.

Who needs to pay to take a boy to gymnastics if he walks on his crib rails? We decided to set aside any kinesthetic-development-related money and apply it to a suturing course. Neels will need some stitching up before long.

On any day you may find one or both boys lapping up water from the driveway, the picnic table, the slide or any unsanitary surface outside. Where did that come from? They certainly have never seen Scott or me do that. And we don’t have a dog. Try as I may, I just can’t seem to break them from this habit.

But odd as they are, they are at times oh so helpful. Devan especially. He “helped” me yesterday by washing his own shoes – in the loo. Not a clean loo.

If only the risks they take would stay in the physical category. But today in the check-out line I wished the earth would swallow me as Neels managed, with his limited vocabulary, to communicate to the lady behind us that she looked like a monster.

Oh how my respect for my mother is growing with every delightful or fretful day I spend with my boys. And my empathy to her is sincere. Three boys and 30 years later she is remarkably sane. She calmly lived thru Karel’s frequent head-on encounters with walls (most incidents necessitated stitches). She evenly handled Paul’s ambitions to stuff tiny screws irretrievable distances up his nose. He was also accident-prone on his bike and on one occasion literally cracked a bike (and his chin) after rear-ending a car. Loffie’s thinking has always been more of a challenge than his actions. My mother patiently dealt with his stubborn 6-year-old ingenuity (laziness?) to wear his pajamas underneath his school uniform – an attempt not to waste time on pointless morning and evening dressing routines. She should receive some honorable recognition.

Now I am sure little girls cause some stress too. My main contribution has most certainly been the refusal to wear dresses burdened with layers of lace. Now that did cause some major stress in the house. At least it was not as life threatening as some of the boys’ everyday actions were. I am reminded frequently though that my moods as a teenager surpassed all the combined agony the boys ever caused. Nevertheless, since I can presently speak only from the experience of mothering boys, I will empathize with my mother for living through little boyhood, applaud her for surviving it (and remaining somewhat sane) and commend her for having 3 alive grown boys to show for it! May God in His grace allow my wild things and me survival as well!

1 comment:

  1. AMEN sister! Having Tim as a brother and two boys of my own, I took great delight and sympathy reading your post. Which was entertaining and well written by the way.

    Let's see. Christopher broke Ben's arm by diving on top of him. Ben bit through Christophers shirt and made dog teeth marks on him, drawing blood of course. Christopher opened his head up by smashing into the heating unit, which is on the ground. Benjamin jumped on Christopher's head on the trampoline. I stopped Christopher from riding his tricycle down a flight of 16 stairs just in the nick of time and both my boys cannot walk on the sidewalk when there is a railing to totter on top of instead.
    I absolutely marvel at the little girls sitting...SITTING...through an entire church service...quietly drawing or just stroking their mothers hair. When my boys get a temperature above 102 degrees, we like to say...this is what having girls would be like.
    So...anytime you want to talk. Just give me a call. We can commiserate or just laugh.
    (630) 752-2127 -kat


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