The wonder of boys.*

(*Not to be confused with any book by Michael Gurian. I’ve read that, and although it may be time to re-read it, I think it’s not much help to me today.)

photo by Elise Beall Photography, 2008.

So, just when you think you’ve got this parenting thing all worked out, something someone comes along to mess with your mojo. In this case, I’m talking about K, my youngest child and number 2 son. I’ve been working the parenting gig for more than 14 years now, and considered myself up in the Triple A leagues of the business…and now I realize that actually, I am not ready for The Show.

Sunday morning, as the Clan Offspring were watching something relatively mindless on Nick or Disney or Discovery, I sat down at the computer to do the Sunday wrap-up on blog reading. Cup of coffee next to me, dogs lying in wait for my next move, Hannah or Carly babbling softly in the next room, peace in the valley. I finished Coffee #1 and got up to refill the mug (I can’t get good help around here: IHOP this ain’t) and walked through the family room on the way to the kitchen.

Two boys are on the couch. One boy is engrossed in the television. Boy #2, K, is twirling a drinking straw absentmindedly and picking at a piece of napkin or tissue in his lap. (Do you see where this is going? I didn’t until) I looked up. I don’t know why I looked up, but I did. “Huh. How come there are all those little pieces of white stuff on my blue ceiling? Weird. Oh, wait a minute….” and I looked down. Straw, paper, child. Comprehension dawned. And then I lost it. (And please recall this event falls under the Time When Dad is Away in Asia for Far Too Long. See my previous post on the topic.)

(Oh, I’m not proud. I lost it. I didn’t know what else to do. So losing it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

I’ve been asking people since it happened — teachers, school administrators, friends — to explain to me what K was thinking. The simple (and unanimous) answer is, he wasn’t. This boggles my mind. How could you *not* be thinking that your mother’s head will spin around 360 degrees when she sees the 18 or so pieces of drenched-spitty-gross-mushy-goopy paper bits on the ceiling? How does that *not* enter into the equation?

I sent him upstairs after he picked the papers up off the floor (I got the ladder and flicked them off the ceiling so that he could clean up. I didn’t want him on a ladder, but oh yes he was going to clean up). My parting words were this, “Come on back down when you are ready to have a conversation that includes apologizing to me for the way you have disrespected the house we live in and the rules of our house.” (Oh sure, the argument could be made that I never explicitly forbade spitballs, but he’s an 8-year-old boy, not a lawyer, so that didn’t come up. Thank goodness.) Do you know I didn’t hear an apology until about 3 that afternoon? Stubborn, much?

{Leaving that child in his room all day is impractical, so my solution was to tell him, “Look, Buster. You are so anxious to be treated like a Big Kid, same rules and privileges as the older sibs….and yet you make decisions that show me you are not ready for that kind of freedom. I was sitting in the next room when you made the very bad choice to blow spitballs, so I have to wonder what kinds of decisions you will make when I am not in the next room. Consequently, you and I are going to be spending a lot of time together. When you are not in your room, you will be with me. Just like when you were a baby.”}

{As an added bonus of Crazy, I lit into Boy #1, C, who was sitting next to K on the couch at the time. It boggles my mind that spitballs could be happening about 18 inches from him and he had no idea. Surely they talked about it? C was all put out that he was in trouble [much less trouble, but trouble nonetheless] too, but I stood firm in my annoyance. It’s like I tell them, “If you’re with a friend who decides to rob the 7-11, the police are not going to care that you didn’t do it….you’re still going to get arrested and charged with something. You have to be aware of what’s going on around you.” Spitballs, armed robbery….it’s a short leap from one to the other.}

Elise's work again: 2008

So K and I are spending a lot more time together. Maybe that’s what he wanted, subconciously, in the first place. Nice work, Baby Boy, you got it.

Or, maybe, he just wanted to see what happens when you blow wads of wet paper up to the ceiling. “Huh. It sticks. Let’s try another one.”

Yep, that was probably it.

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11 Responses to “The wonder of boys.*”

  1. Missy @ Wonder, Friend Says:

    Yep. Boys. I’d be willing to bet that C was actually so engrossed in the TV that he didn’t notice the spit balls. Boys have an amazing ability to tune out everything around them. It boggles the mind of a multi-tasking woman, but I swear my little guy goes partially deaf during his TV time. He can hear only the television. Come to think of it, my husband does this, too…
    Missy @ Wonder, Friend recently posted..Raising Losers

    Alyson says:

    Oh, I’m sure he was clueless (in retrospect), but it seems really unlikely that K didn’t at least say “Hey C, watch this!” Now, whether he actually watched or not….doubtful. iCarly was on…

  2. Alice Says:

    It would figure that out of your 4, my godson is voted “most likely to rob a convenience store.” I can hear him now, “But officer, what do you expect? You’ve never met my moral compass! She drinks from a box!!”
    Alice recently posted..Marriage

    Alyson says:

    Aaaaannnd, you’ve just volunteered to post bail. And monitor when he’s confined to home.

    Thank you. I knew we chose well.

  3. Yuliya Says:

    Being attached at the hip to an eight year old…sounds like you’re the one who’s being punished.
    And yes, obedience school might be cheaper!
    Yuliya recently posted..The Next Generation

    Alyson says:

    So much of positive discipline, I’ve found, is more about punishing the parent. He doesn’t appear to be ruffled in the least.

    I’m not sure he’d be accepted at obedience school. It implies “obedience.”

  4. liz Says:

    Where did he learn about making spitballs? Wow, that sucks.
    liz recently posted..The Plan

    Alyson says:

    Obviously I’m going to blame those harlots Hannah M or iCarly — one of them is a terrible influence.

    Couldn’t possibly be Diary of a Wimpy Kid books…..

  5. MA Says:

    Did I ever tell you about the time I sliced two apples and brought them into the playroom as a nice treat for the boys(5 & 7 at the time)? An hour later I discovered that an apple “fight” had ensued. THAT was a day I can officially say “I lost it.” You cannot get apple splat (now dried) off of walls-did you know that? Sandpaper and extra paint later I still don’t think I could hide the remnants of that “fight.”

    Alyson says:

    I should have called you directly for advice, but it was crack o’ dawn your time.

    I don’t get boys at all. I like them, but I don’t get them.

  6. Alyson Says:

    Maybe it’s not the Wonder of Boys but the Belligerence of the Baby — she’s your 4th too, right?

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