Yesterday marked my 500th blog post on jennswondering. It began almost exactly five years ago in an effort to learn blogging so I could list it as a skill for potential clients. It has turned into a five-year (so far) capturing of moments in my sons’ lives. 500 small moments that we, as a family, might otherwise forget. One day, I will share them with the boys, when I am old enough that they feel obligated to forgive me. And they are old enough to recognize what I see in them each time they inspire me to write: unique, funny, creative, sweet, smart, much-loved boys.
Since our boys were very little, I have made sure they hear me say, “Your number one job in life is to be good to your brothers.”
In the closing weeks of summer vacation, I had to remind them often. They had spent too much time together, suddenly missed their friends, and with the older boys entering adolescence, I began to worry that my mantra was lost on them. “What’s your most important job on this planet?!”
But they just rolled their eyes.
Then, yesterday, after a few weeks back in the groove of school, the 12 and 13 year olds both showed me that they have been listening.
First, I heard from their Lego League teacher, who was in the process of creating two distinct teams for competition, that the older one had pulled her aside. He let her know quietly that all that matters to him is that he and his brother are on the same team. Even though his two best friends in the entire world are also in Lego League, he wants to share it with his brother.
Later in the day, I picked them up from soccer practice, after which they were delighted with themselves and each other. The younger one, and better athlete, had earned the “play of the day.” The older one had scored the winning goal – his first ever goal. Neither of them cared that their feats had been achieved in practice, not a game.
The younger one waited until we were alone to tell me that his brother “was so happy when he scored that goal. You should have seen him. And the whole team was happy. It was awesome.”
I whispered what I had heard from the Lego League teacher. “That’s because if I’m on his team, he knows we’ll win,” but his grin spread from ear to ear.
During the first week and a half of school, it seemed that my boys were running a relay of tantrums and meltdowns. As soon as one recovered from whatever angst he was experiencing, he passed the baton, and the next one took off.
“I have no friends in my classes!” He does.
“I don’t know why I am doing soccer! I hate soccer!” He has a blast.
“I am not doing Lego League!” This is his third year. He loves it, and more of his friends are doing it than ever before.
“I heard someone behind me in line say I was useless!” Unwilling to put a name to the voice.
“I only touched the ball once for all of recess! And it was a punt. It wasn’t even a good punt!” Can they please ban playground football?
Each of these and other statements spiraled down into two hours of tears, moping, glares, stomping feet or refusals to talk. And the fights that such moods triggered between them… Seriously?! Then yesterday, thank goodness, the world shifted back onto its usually peaceful, happy axis.
“I got a 100 on my math quiz!”
“I’m so bummed we don’t have soccer practice tomorrow. It’s the best part of the day!”
“I hope everyone’s going to be at Lego League.”
“Can I bring my red football for recess?”
“We finished our homework. If we go together, can we go Pokemon-ing until dinner?”
Transition back to school complete.
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails
That’s what little boys are made of.
But what happens to them when they play golf?!
I recently took up golf and started playing an occasional nine holes with my family. I love being outside with them, playing, enjoying the sunshine. My goal is to hit the ball when I swing, sometimes hit it 100 yards and straight, but mostly just spend a few hours with my boys.
But golf does something to them.
When they are playing well, they are like puppy dogs’ tails. Wagging. Giddy. Confident. Fun.
That’s what little boys are made of.
But when they are playing poorly, which in our family games, merely means I have a slim chance of closing in, they turn into slugs and snails and sops who wail…
…and throw their clubs, and cry and beat themselves up.
No other sport or activity has this strange power over them. And I just want to play!
So apparently, after 13 years as a mother of boys, I must still learn…
… what are little boys made of… when they play golf?
They are not the Jets and the Sharks. Not the Crips and Bloods. Not even the Bad News Bears.
You know you have nerdy, good boys when they return from the park, flush from the glory of a playground fight, and the story they tell goes like this.
“There were some kids at the park, and they were total jerks. We were having a perfectly fine snowball fight with them, but then they pushed our little guy.”
“Everyone knows you can’t push the little guy.”
“So we started yelling.”
“And did you hear that one guy? He didn’t even know what a pronoun is!”
“I know! And when I asked him what an adjective is, he said ‘person, place or thing.’”
“I know! What a loser!”
“And they said they were 14, but I bet they were only 12.”
“I know! They were totally lying!”
“’Person, place or thing’… Ha! What a jerk.”
“And mom,” said the little guy, “a tree fell right next to us.”
“A big tree.”
He was supposed to be asleep. 10:30pm. Ski school in the morning after a busy week. His older brothers had been out for over an hour.
“Mom,” he said, dragging his tired little body into the dining room. “I’m sad.”
He is not one to hide his feelings.
So at 10:30, when he should have been sleeping, we snuggled into my bed and had a long talk. “Sometimes my friends are my friends. And sometimes they aren’t.”
With three boys, I have learned that such conversations always end up at recess football. Who did, or did not, pick him for their team that day.
“They are all your friends,” I said. “They love you.”
“But sometimes they are nice to me, and sometimes they aren’t. They act like I’m not their friend… like in football today…”
“Well, is there anyone who you always trust to be nice no matter what?”
“Then that’s who we need to invite over to play as soon as we can.”
He smiled and fell immediately to sleep.
As my boys enter adolescence, dinner conversations go awry. Humor has shifted from goofy giggles over burps and farts to socially aware but unacceptable quips.
One night at dinner, don’t ask me how we got there, but… somehow we were talking about two kids in the same family with different mothers. No one we know personally. Just the concept.
“He’s my brother of another mother.” Lots of laughs.
I glared at them. “Where did you hear that?”
“Everywhere,” said my sixth grader.
My husband, happily joining the fray, pointed out that “my sister from a different father” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so melodically.
“How about ‘sister from a different mister?!’”
High fives from the teenagers.
Frankly, I prefer burps and farts. And last night, no one even laughed when the seventh grader burped loudly after tacos.