Every night after I wrestle the last of my 4 boys into bed, my house is strangely quiet. It is always a stark contrast to just a few minutes before, when my house was filled with laughter, wrestling, and silliness. But that is a typical day in the life of raising boys. I have found that “Boys Will Be Boys” definitely applies to my four boys at times and I am exhausted!
Boys Will Be Boys, and That’s Okay
My boys are really great kids. They are motivated and creative. They do well at school and make friends easily. They are also respectful to adults and treat people with kindness. But they are boys and it is in their nature to be a bit rough and loud. I have always had mixed feelings about the term, “Boys will be boys.” Sometimes I feel that it implies that boys can’t learn manners or respect for others and that they are creatures who only act out of impulse, which I know isn’t the case just from watching my own sons and it should never be used to justify bad behavior. But, I also can’t help but see that phrase in a positive light. “Boys will be boys” implies that boys are a little rough around the edges (aren’t we all?) and that they are full of energy. (Is that bad?) I have found through personal experience that, regardless of what society thinks, “boys WILL be boys” and that is okay.
It makes me concerned to see that our society as a whole has shifted in the way that we think of boys. Instead of letting boys be the energetic, curious beings that they inherently are and providing ways for them to express their energy in a healthy way, we try to squash their enthusiasm to make them quiet and submissive. We take recess out of schools and then jump to medicate at the first hint of hyperactivity. We label boys as “wild” for having energy, but then we allow them to sit in front of electronic devices for hours at a time instead of providing creative outlets for their enthusiasm.
Our world today is very different from how it was in generations past. Gone are the days of staying out until dark riding bikes, or spending hours fishing with friends. Spontaneous baseball games don’t happen like they used to and electronics have taken over the minds that once dug holes, just for the sake of digging holes or exploded things because it is fun to blow things up. Kids are now even getting in trouble for playing too loudly OUTSIDE! At least that story had an exciting and surprising ending.
As a mother of boys, I never want to stifle my sons’ curiosity or their unique personalities. I want them to spend time outside getting dirty, playing sports and catching bugs or lizards. I want them to build blanket forts and jump from couch to couch to avoid hot lava. I want them to spend hours riding bikes or playing night games with friends. I even want them to break out in spontaneous wrestling matches. In other words, I want them to be allowed to be energetic and curious without the world implying that those things make them bad. But, I will also teach them the appropriate times for those things.
Now, I understand that girls can be rowdy too and that not ALL boys are rambunctious and noisy. But my experience comes from raising my four boys. My boys are all very different. My oldest wasn’t rowdy as a little kid. But, once we added a few brothers into the mix, things changed significantly. It always amazes me to watch what happens when you put a group of boys in the same room together. They think up things I would have never imagined and I often find myself wondering what is going on in their heads! In our home we have certain rules and boundaries that we have set that keep our house from turning into complete chaos (which could easily happen with 4 boys!) but I believe that allowing my boys to express their enthusiasm for life in fun and spontaneous ways will help them grow into mature, creative and confident men and that by helping them learn to direct their energy into something productive, there will be no stopping the amazing things that they do.
So bring on the pockets full of critters, bruised knees and grass-stained jeans. I’m so tired of feeling as though I have to apologize to the world for having boys or feeling as though I have to change them to fit some societal expectation. I’m no longer going to apologize for letting my boys be boys.
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