Sunday, May 18, 2014

Boys Will Be...

...forever a mystery to me.

(Note: This post was written several months ago, but I just found it unpublished in my draft folder.  Since it remains very much the story of our daily lives, I'm just going to post it now!)

As I sit at my dining room table, I have a view through three windows overlooking my front yard.  It's a great perch from which to watch the activity of my neighborhood.  As the twilight sets in, I've counted a dozen couples strolling by, walking dogs, pushing strollers.  A typical occurrence most evenings around here.

Another typical sight (just a little less idyllic) is happening even as I type these words.  The background noise is a symphony of semi-automatic air soft weapons being unloaded and the sight of ninja-like long-legged boys belly-crawling through my azaleas.

Nestled in a three-house triangle, we are the neighbors responsible for 7 boys ranging in ages from 8 to 15 years old.  It is loud, smelly, dangerous and delightfully entertaining around here.  As parents, we all agree that we are grateful these young men are far more interested in outdoor games than gaming systems, but there IS a trade-off when you unleash this herd on our suburban streets.

For instance, I question my personal safety more often when I'm, say, going out to check the mail.  I usually call out some sort of "CEASE FIRE" warning when I leaved the covered safety of my front porch overhang.  The rustling of the hedges indicates that I've been heard and am safe to retrieve my mail.  Lately, Miss M has apparently been questioning her personal safety and has taken matters into her own hands.

Safety Goggles?  Check!
I also have learned to stop questioning the logic behind their decisions.  After all, just because I don't think it would be fun to be chased down the sidewalk by a motorized dirt bike doesn't mean these guys don't think it's a THRILL!
Outta the way, Miss M!  Those safety glasses won't save you now!

My role to keep my son safe from himself is diminishing as my husband's role of pushing him to the limits of his fears and reservations increases.  I can certainly suggest that he shouldn't ride his bike down the street "with no arms and no legs, Mom!", but it's way more fun for him to watch YouTube videos with Dad about what amazing things you can do on your bike when your arms and legs are free from the burdens of steering and pedaling.

The day after they watched one of these videos, I received the following text from my husband:

"So I got run off the trail.  
Now know what it feels like 
to flip over handlebars!  
I'm ok though - a little sore."

Yes, boys will be forever a mystery to me.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Boy Tree

The tree stands modestly in our front yard.  It's not very tall.  Not terribly wide.  It doesn't produce flowers in the spring or lose leaves in the winter.  It always appears exactly the way I see it right now as I peer at it through my front windows.

But it is a marvelous and magical tree, this modest-ish, short-ish, thinnish green thing.

Surrounded by a low hedge of azaleas and draped like an umbrella by it's own bowing branches, this tree is a fortress of solitude for a boy who needs some space to breathe.

It's a proving ground of courage for a boy who needs to face some fears, to climb higher up or jump farther down from it's curving, gnarled branches.

This tree is a resting place for stuck things; various rubber balls and soccer balls and lacrosse sticks and frisbees are all held tightly by hungry, thick coverings of leaves. All waiting for a boy who needs the victory of being the rescuer of stuck things for a change.

Sometimes the boy just needs for life to not be quite so serious.  Where the only thing that's hard is the grip he has on that low-dipping branch.  Where that firm grip serves to shake the branches so hard that the laughter comes showering down along with the toys.

And there's levity.  Literally there is levity when that low-dipping branch yanks that child's small body up hard and he just dangles 2 feet off the ground feeling weightless for much longer than you'd ever imagine he could manage.

The callouses on his hands and the scrapes on his shins might worry a mama if she didn't know better.

If she hadn't learned that sometimes the twisted ankles, the blisters, callouses, scrapes and bruises really aren't signs of injury in an eight year old boy.

The "boy tree" will tell you that they're much more likely marks of healing.

The Boy Tree