I am the proud mom of five Messy, Loud, Combative, Wonderful and Energetic future men.
My boys are “Verbs Personified”.
(Combative- In this writing I mean competitiveness to the extreme. Possessing a willingness to die for victory. A spirit of “all-in”. A determination that is indescribable)
If you only have girls, I am not sure how much this one will apply to you, but please read on and share with your friends who have boys.
I have spent a lot of time trying to stop myself from treating my boys like girls.
I am very aware that boys are made quite unique from we girls.
For the sake of this rambling thought, let’s agree on a few things first.
- Girls are wonderful.
- I love girls and believe them to precious in the sight of God.
- God and I do not love boys more than girls nor do we believe one is more special than the other.
- Boys and girls are uniquely and wonderfully made.
- I do not want to follow the rabbit trail of whether girls should do the same things as boys. That conversation would be better over coffee and pie.
- I will not address girls in the rest of this conversation. Ready?
Boys are not knit together in a way that my girl brain understands.
Boys are verbs personified. Their first words were sound effects.
Boys draw, read and write differently than girls (Remember, I am a girl).
Just ask a little boy to draw you a picture. “Sheesh! What a mess!” you might think. There are scribbles all over the place, right?
Now, ask that little boys what is happening in that “mess” and a great drama unfolds.
This ship is trying to sneak up on that boat, as this soldier is parachuting out of that rocket, while over here that building explodes and these people escape for their lives, mines explode violently… …if you have a little boy, you understand.
Boys draw verbs.
They create action and drama.
Their pictures are often a scribbled mess because there is a whole story going on there.
There “subjects” don’t stand still for the drawing, they run around, throw things, jump up and down, scream, and conquer.
For the longest time I struggled with this. My girl brain draws and creates “nouns pictures”.
That pretty horse standing in a field of lovely flowers. Everything is standing perfectly still and is in focus.
My boys favorite way to draw a picture is to create a background scene and then go back and forth with a brother (or friend) and have a war. Each boy takes turns adding dramatic additions to their artwork. At one point I banned this type of art. My girl brain said, “It’s too messy!” I wanted their art to be happy, lovely, colorful and girly.
What a mistake!
I am currently trying to clear out my “anti-boy” rules from my kids lives. Let’s face it. We live in a very anti-boy culture. I thought I was pretty boy savvy, but I recently caught my own girl brain bias in action.
Here is my girl bias in action:
One of our sons received an Ant Farm for Christmas. Best. Gift. Ever. for this future farmer.
I read the little brochure that came with the ant farm and there was a “suggested reading” page in the back. As a homeschooler, this is gold.
Anytime you can incorporate math, reading, writing and science to complement a passion you really have a “perfect storm for learning”.
I found one of the suggested readings online.
Leiningen versus the Ants
I sat down and read it to myself to see if I believed the boys would enjoy it.
I was shocked. I decided it was to violent for my boys and was surprised it was included as “suggested reading”.
I then began reading a book called Boy Writers: Reclaiming their Voices, by Ralph Fletcher. Inspired to embrace the “boy-ness” of Leiningen I decided to read it aloud to my boys…
They were captivated. They loved the arrogance, drama, and violence in the story. I asked the youngest what her thought about the story.
He said, “I think the main character was just like a teenage boy.”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
He replied, “Teenagers think they are invincible and full of themselves. They cause all kinds of issues because they believe nothing bad can happen to them. Leiningen was like that.”
I am currently working through the Boy Writers book and challenging my own thought process. Why not let them write about ________? (This is different for every boy, but always makes us girls squirm).
My challenge to you moms of boys is to really embrace who your boys are.
If they are like my boys, they are Loud and combative. My boys’ favorite stories are active, combative, violent, good vs. evil, heroic, devastatingly sad, and even gross. They can find humor in the dramatic and be disgusted at weakness. I should not be surprised when their own writing and artwork displays these things as well.
Boys need a chance to express themselves and grow. They need a safe place to explore, battle and conquer. Writing can be a (here comes a girly word) beautiful place to express and explore being a “man”. This is incredibly important to your boys.
We went to breakfast at a local restaurant and my son declared that he didn’t want a children’s menu. He asked for a “Man’s Menu”.
Of course, we need to guide our boys. There are definitely “Inappropriate and unacceptable” forms of reading, writing, and artistic expression. Each of us have our own set of standards.
But, we also should be allowing our “boys to be boys”… even in school. Even in art. Even in writing.
Embrace the boy. I am not sure that I will ever understand those sons of mine, but I do not want to be the one who pushes their masculinity into a nice pink box and then locks it in a closet.
Face it. We want our men to be strong, courageous, confident, bold, caring, loving, and kind. We want them to stand up for the weak and defend the defenseless. We want them to charge boldly into this world and lead with strength, dignity, and integrity.
Let’s let them practice on paper.
Does the picture look like 7 mice had their tails tied together and ran across an ink pad, then across the paper? Simply say, “There is so much going on here. Tell me about your picture!” Then Listen.
Does the poem or story include people getting hurt and even dying? Are their guns and war? Do bones get broken? Are games lost and won? Resist the urge to require safe and lovely stories. Boys usually grow through this season as they search for their “voice”. Resist the urge to edit out the “boy”. If they really struggle with the inappropriate, pull them aside and talk it through. Protect their dignity!
Boys are awesome. Boys are messy. Boys are loud. Boys are violent (Controlled use of sticks as swords, nerf guns, and weapons in general are considered a need to many boys- teach safety as they exercise their ability to protect and defend). Boys are chaotic at times. Boys are Amazing!
Do you have boys?
How do you encourage their masculinity in both life and school?
More Boy Articles:
My Son Almost Died Today
Emotional Boys: What’s a Mom to Do?