I always imagined having 4 or 5 daughters. So imagine the complete surprise at having two sons! And of course the complete gift.
Boys are amazing! I so love having sons. They are wise teachers and great friends to me.
It was great to be introduced to the boundless boy energy they had, their need for a physical release.
Yes Charlie had a doll (a boy called Baby Luke) for years, and now he still has heaps of teddies and even does tea parties with them. Both are very nurturing towards younger children and loving and gentle to us.
And then the big physical thing! Wow! I love the opposites, the total interest in weapons of all kinds and using them. Then the tears over an animal being mistreated, or the empathy during a sad story. (Often I am so chocked up at the end of books I am reading to them I can hardly get the words out.)
The passion in which the plainest stick becomes a complex weapon, fueled by imagination. All that talk about stereotypes, I have loved seeing what just emerges. I thought all boys did trains and dinosaurs….uh uh. Mine did animals and armies.
I have definitely been one of those parents that said – “no violent toys”.
And I have never bought them a gun. They each have a box of weapons on their room, mostly homemade, swords, spears, guns, slingshots, daggers Ollie and Hannah have done Archery and Ollie wants a decent bow and arrow next birthday. His room is bristling with knives. I totally support that.
Of course I learned early that every stick is a weapon, every rubber band, stone, spoon and now their own bodies are tools for fighting with.
I still struggle with the fighting thing. But I do understand it. I completely support them in what they do, I just do not want to be involved with a fight myself. I always laugh when we get together with our older kids. Kim, (25yrs) having spent the first 9 years of her life with just males was brought up to playfight, and old habits die hard….Much to the delight of my boys when we get together it is one big rough ‘n’ tumble session, with Kim right in the thick of it!
Hannah and I look on with barely concealed disdain, or go and make the tea.
Now their energies have been miraculously channeled into Tae Kwon Do. All that physical energy and desire to fight is legitimised and even lauded! Bring it on!!
The boys just love it and are naturals. They practise a lot and are so energised by it. One of the greatest things for me is that Wayne does it with them and it has become a boys thing that they do together. For the first time I am not involved.
This has great spin-offs for us all-
I get some ME time!
Wayne gets to be the main parent for a change and the boys get to share something special with their Dad, that I am not a part of and do not in any way want to control. I have learned to step away, let go and watch from a distance and you know what…? It is very empowering.
I know as a woman it is important to step back and let a man show my boys how to be a man. To let Dad be the one they go to for a change.
I read a lovely thing about the bridge to adolescence by NZ author Celia Lashlie http://www.celialashlie.co.nz/books.php.
Her book “He’ll be OK – Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men” contains much wisdom gleamed from alot of intense observation and hours spent with boys.
(Lovely serendipitous moment I just put the radio on and she was talking!http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/20120913
There may be a link put up to listen to this interview.)
She sees boys as needing a man to walk them over the bridge to manhood. That the mum needs to say goodbye to her boy and let him walk with men, so he can learn to be a man. The idea is that when he arrives at manhood he will come back to his mother, but have a different relationship with her, one of a man, not a boy.
This sounds very hard when you have little boys that breastfed for years, still sleep with you and seek you out constantly for comfort and to share in their lives. But having a son on the brink of manhood suddenly (Ollie’s voice has broken at age 11! and we can giggle about impending facial hair…) it all seems a very sensible and in fact necessary thing to be thinking about.
The TKD the boys all do is the perfect platform for them all at the moment. Wayne is a practical project man so having an activity to share with Ollie is perfect for them.
Another thing many friends have taken part in and I am guessing and hoping Ollie will want to do is this – http://www.tracks.net.nz/. A course of initiation/transition for adolescence boys and a significant man in their lives.
I love the fact my boys are surrounded by many good men. They have a variety of role models to learn about how a man behaves. I am grateful for this and know they enjoy men’s company in many different ways.
Celia was just saying on the radio how fearful men are in our society – scared of being alone with children. Scared of other people thinking the worse if they are. She was saying how this fear has driven men out of teaching, among other things.
There was a case of a man being moved on a plane last week as he was seated by an unaccompanied child!! How ridiculous. How sad.
Also she spoke about a boys need for touch. I always thought that is why men play rugby?!
The very sad thing, is that a lot of men are now conditioned to never pat a boy on the back, playfully punch him, ruffle his hair or hug him. Whereas this is exactly what a boy is crying out for.
I have seen this amazing transformation with Ollie. He has always been extremely tactile. His Love Language is definitely touch. A year or so ago he started going to Wayne for this. And even though he will still hug me (long may this last!) it is Dad that gets the longest, the first, the most meaningful of the hugs. And I am so glad for them both that they have each other and can do this lovingly as part of their relationship. It is truly exciting to see.
What our boys need is good, strong male role models and the world is full of them.
My experience is that the world is full of wonderful people.
And men are people too.