We took the boys to a potluck at our pastor’s house last week. It is a very nice house and they don’t have any children, which means that they do have knickknacks and various unmolested breakables scattered throughout their home. I am used to having to guard such items when we go out somewhere and so I just followed my herd of boys around wherever they went, playing with them and telling them “no” and “don’t touch” and “drop that immediately” and not getting to eat or talk with others. Normal life.
There were other children there and I noticed strange behaviour from their parents. Their parents did not follow them around. Their parents did not leap through the air and seize them whenever they approached a set of stairs or a window or a fence or the weight room. They just said “no” from way way across the lawn and…their children stopped and listened. Then I realized, all of these other children were girls.
Now I know a few little girls. I myself was a little girl once. An old friend once told me that I lived my childhood in overalls with a frog in my pocket and he was not far off. I spend a good deal of time with my niece and often see my friend Meesook’s fierce little daughter. These little girls are curious and bold explorers much like my sons. They climb things, and poke things, throw things, and roll in things. If you want my boys or the girls I am familiar with to obey, you ask them once nicely. Then when they don’t listen, you grab them by the hand and make them obey…every time…all day long. This is normal.
It occured to me that I could be a parenting failure, after contemplating this horror for a time, I realized that I was being much more attentive then the parents of the angelic children. I told them no and then I made them obey…a lot. Could it be that there is another breed of child out there? Could it be that those children are in the majority? Could it be that my Dr’s statement about my boys being “highly active” meant that other children are not like them?
A group of these little girls played happily all by themselves up in our pastor’s weight room. They quietly used the eliptical machine and played with the toys…and that’s all.
My boys played there too. And if I had not been there I am certain that something or someone would have been smashed in short order. They were not being bad and they were not throwing a fit or anything (which believe me they can do) they were just being their normal curious selves. There were windows in this second story room. My boys immediately attempted to unlock and open them. There was a huge decorative mirror on the wall, none of the little girls even thought about touching it, my son ran right to it and began touching every little bit of the surface in such a vigorous manor that I was frightened for his life should the whole massive thing come toppling off the wall. There were dumbbells lined up against the wall ignored by the little girls. My youngest sprinted over to them and hefted one in the air exclaiming his strength to the world. Then he wanted to lie on the weight bench and lift weights. He was quite put out when I made him use stuffed animals instead of the heavy chunks of iron. Then of course he wanted to break into their sauna. No one disobeyed during our entire time in the weight room, they simply explored and touched everything requiring a lot of “no” answers from me to their inquiries.
During the rest of the visit there were several other adventures: The boys tricked their brothers with the sprinklers, luring them in with a little trickle, only to turn them up high when they were close. While the girls set up the lawn bowling…on the lawn… my boys set them up on a rock wall and launched the plastic bowling ball at them in a vigorous fashion. Then there was a sword fight with the bowling pins and then someone was suddenly accidentally standing on a table. A ball was thrown and crashed into our pastor’s tv dish. The boys were thrilled to find “a maze for bugs” in the bathroom which was actually a decorative lamp with little glass bits glued all over the shade. And finally the pastor’s wife spotted my oldest climbing across the top of her six foot fence which is situated just above an enormous drop off.
I don’t think that I would even have noticed how exciting that potluck was except for all of the other children that didn’t even attempt to climb the fence…or anything else for that matter. The boys were on good behavior, whenever I said “No!” they readily agreed. They just made an attempt at doing everything that came to mind. It made me realize that parenting is not a venue of equality. That some families have to work harder at one aspect of parenting while others put their efforts elsewhere. I appeared to be doing double duty in the protecting and policing bit of the parental job description.
But I realized something else, I’m ok with that. When I see my strong, healthy, curious boys zipping about a new place exploring, I’m glad that I have been gifted a pack of children with the “Warrior Spirit” as one Native American social worker put it. I’m proud to be their mom and sure potlucks may be a time when I have to work longer hours than some moms, I’m sure they have trouble spots of their own…at least there is an evil little part of me that really hopes they do. After I recovered from running madly about I was able to breath a sigh of contentment over my wonderfully active little explorers. Thank you God for my three little boys.