When to let go of three boys

Often sitting at a restaurant or playdate or homeschool social, I see my boys testing all the natural laws of gravity. Often times this is followed by another frantic mother telling them they should get off before they brake their necks. Often times that’s followed by the always present look of judgement as to why I would allow little humans to test their abilities in such horrifically irresponsible ways. 

I suppose that I myself, have been quick to judge the exact same behavior in other parents than I portray now, two extra boys later.

Which leads me to question, when is it appropriate to let your mongrels loose and when should you pretend to reign them in.

This, I’ve learnt is very dependent on your personal parenting style. If, for example, you’re the mom that freaks out over a bumped head, because heaven knows the child’s never going to be okay after such a terrible head injury, I would suggest finding decent bubble wrap and forcing your child into a life of solitude. 

There’s a reason why Boys and Bruises start with the same letter. In fact, they go together like salt and pepper, sushi and soya, red wine and myself. It’s part of their DNA to test their physical limits. 

On all these “world biggest idiot” YouTube shows, it’s always some idiotic teenage boy getting slammed in the nuts after doing something completely stupid. It’s never a girl. 

I’ve actually come to my own conclusions as to why this is such a prominent occurrence under the male species…. women already know that it’s of much greater importance to test exceptional things. Like intelligence, careers, social acceptance of women, women’s rights and equality in the work place. In short…. women are born smarter. I say this with all the love I possibly have, considering the fact that I’m raising three little men. But it’s true. 

I read this amazing article on great young girls who changed history. People like Alice Coachman, who dominated the high jump since she was 15, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn who gave her first speech about what socialism will do for women, when she was 16 years old. Or Betsy Hager who, as a teenager built weapons for the soldiers during the civil war. There’s a million more, like Louisa Lane, Lucy Larcom, Sybil Ludington, Maria Mitchell and Alexandra Nechita. Even Pocahontas, who most people probably think is just a Disney character, represented her people before she was a teenager. If you didn’t know any of these names. I don’t blame you, but unfortunately most people know Jhonny Knoxville… in fact typing his name, it already autonomously finished it. Sad that this is what society has become. 

But blogging about female excellence is such a deserving topic that I want to leave it for it’s own special time. 

Boys seldomly start thinking about the world before their 20. Even then, it’s limited to their own world. 

We have had a couple of stitches, a trip to the hospital for mild accidental poisoning, a few bad insect bites, a broken nose, and a shit load of bruises and bad scrapes. They’re still here. 

I let them burn their hands, fall of jungle gyms and ride head first into walls with their bicycles… growing up, I’ve done worse… and lived to tell about it. 

The only suggestions that I do have, and use myself, is to… 

1) tell your kids to respect other people’s belongings firstly. 

2) Teach them to try and set a good example for other kids who might not yet have the capability to levitate.

3) Enforce certain boundaries when we’re visiting places that have R20 000 paintings everywhere. 

4) Limit sugar intake, ‘coz boys on drugs are a lot crazier. 

5) never dare them… And they’re boys… simply saying “no you can’t jump of the double storey roof” sound like a dare to them. Instead try saying “I know you are capable of doing great things, but you are not ALLOWED to break your neck today”.

6) manage the type of movies or shows that your kids are exposed to. If you’re wondering why he slaps his wrist and transforms into a spider monkey…… parent fail. 

The BIGGEST thing you should try to remember when your kids do death defying stunts is to NOT PROJECT YOUR OWN FEARS ONTO THEM. Life is pretty tough as it is, they will have plenty of time to develop their own irrational fears. 

Pray every moment for their safe keeping and trust that God will not disappoint. 

When the inevitable does happen and they do end up getting hurt. Instead of coddling them, let them explain to you why they think they got hurt in the first place. 

Buckle up, parenting is a bumpy ride and most of the time, as a mom with boys, you’re going to have your eyes shut.

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How to listen to your kids

It’s an age old thing that parents and kids don’t speak the same language. Every time I think I’m finally on the same page as my boys, they morph into a different human and I have to realize we’re not even reading from the same book. Their needs, want, priorities and interests change faster than the political stability in our country. People talk about keeping up with the Joneses, but the real pain in the ass is keeping up with the humans you’ve spawned. 

Even now, sitting here writing my blog, my baby Oscar is having an A Grade hissy fit. Two weeks ago I’d know it was either for food, attention, general asshole-lism or because of some toy. Now, I have no fucking idea what cry goes with what need. 

Then you have days where nothing you do seems to be the right kind of something they want. You pick them up, they cry. You put them down, they cry. They point to an apple and end up chucking it like a missile at your head. They take a toy, and leave the toy, then cry for a different toy, two crawls away from them. 

It’s the most complicated language to learn. And I don’t care who claims any differently, NO ONE is an expert. The reality of it is that no kids are the same, we cannot categorize them and treat them accordingly and expect to suddenly understand them. Kid talk is not some awesome fairy dust that gets sprinkled over your confused head and then the clouds part and a magical rainbow of complete and utter understanding appears to touch you personally. 

The biggest reason why it’s so hard to be on the same page as your kids is mostly because, most of the time they don’t even know what page THEY’RE on. 

Say for example my 10 year old, Xander. He now has the capability to communicate his feelings, emotions, opinions and disappointments. (Being a semi-teenager, that’s a capability that he constantly practices and constantly land him in shit). But, we’ve been homeschooling for the last two years and most of the time I think we’re doing fine. Then he has these weirdly out of character emotional outbursts. I’m talking about screaming, crying, punching, kicking outbursts. Any normal parent knows right then and there, if it’s not drugs or pregnancy then something else is seriously wrong. 

So how do we then, as obviously confused parents go about getting to understand our kids. I’d be a little hypocritical if I said, I’ve got the answers, mostly because I believe no one does. But if there is one thing that I know without a doubt, is that you first need to establish trust. 

If you are the kind of parent that looses your shit over a missing key when they do fess up, how will they ever learn to trust that they can come to you with the big things, like dating a girl, deciding on a career, cementing their religious beliefs or hiding a body. Trust is key, more like trust is one of the million keys to a really fucktup Pandora’s box. 

The next thing I’ve found that sort of kind of works is making special time. Sit, look them in their eyes and try to see what they are saying. Understand that you’ll never completely get it, but if you can convincingly pull of interest, they will come to you again. Hopefully the next time you’ll understand a little more. 

Try to treat the issues, not the kid. Repeat what you hear, and let them correct you when you undoubtedly misunderstand.

Never, an this is probably the master key, lead them. Never fill in the missing words, never draw them to your conclusions, never trump them with your opinion. By spoon feeding your child’s conversations, you are single handedly creating the idiots that surround us at the moment. 

Free thinkers are not born, they are raised. Teach your child to respect other people’s opinions and views but still have their own. 

Hopefully by the time that they are our age, we will be able to communicate with a single look, or a shared smile. 

Until then, try to enjoy what seems like random moments. Because all we are is a series of random moment.