I'm just a girl, parenting a boy
By Jen Kehl on February 18, 2013
That's him, that's my son, the one swinging from the loft on a swing made of home-made rope.
I read a Facebook post the other day, one in which a mother was concerned about her stepson's rambunctious playing style. He's 5, and she has younger girls. I understand, I do. I am the mother of that same boy, only mine is 7 now. He's not as rough, he's growing into himself and into an understanding of boundaries. But at 5....well, he was a little terrorist. The thing is, I was struck by the immense outpouring of comments, aiming to help this mother. Aiming to help this mother, wait for it......change her son.!? Her initial request was help in deciding how to gift this boy with a baby-doll for his 6th birthday without him feeling it was too girly, so that he could have this baby and learn to play gently with it. Immediately the posts came in. However instead of addressing the important question, like WHY WOULD YOU GIVE A BOY'S BOY A BABY DOLL!!!! They asked this one, "have you looked into where this rage is coming from?" "could it be his diet?" "could it be a spectrum disorder, or sensory processing disorder?" What? Who said anything about rage?
Well, it sure didn't take long for those labels to come flying in did it? Let's figure out what's wrong with this perfectly normal rambunctious 5-year-old boy and put a pin in it! As the mother of a son just like this boy, I immediately had my back up. I almost responded. I almost shouted "DEAL WITH IT! What's with the blatant attempt to change this child? "I am going to get him a baby doll for his 6th birthday, and this will teach him how to be gentle." Hmmm... what's wrong with this picture? Let's take a step-mom, have her buy a 6-year-old a toy he definitely does not want for his birthday, and proceed to explain to him how this will teach him to be gentle. It sounds a little bit like one of those movies where the step-kids are in a war with the step-mom, and someone tricks the mom into buying the doll by saying, he really wants it. Instead he hates her for it and it takes the whole movie to fix that bad decision."
Good luck with that lady. You know what? Boys are hard, and boys are way different from girls. And as a "girl" parenting a "boy", that can be pretty darn confusing, I admit it. But you know what's even more confusing? A bunch of grown-ups telling you, you have to change your behavior because it doesn't fit into their "ideal". Don't yell, talk quietly. Don't jump on the furniture, sit quietly. Don't crash all your toys together, play quietly. Hmmmm....sounds like a lot of don'ts to me. A lot of unrealistic, get you in trouble, make everyone mad don'ts. Don't it?
I myself have experienced first hand how a rambunctious and spirited boy is not always welcome, and you know what I think? I think that's a bunch of hooey. I think, at least he has a personality, there's some potential there. OK, I didn't always think that, but I've learned that. I have had to learn that. I'm the mom of a boy. I'm the mom of a rambunctious, fun-loving, thrill seeking, gun-toting, fire setting boy. Now this recipe for disaster is also home-schooled. So at a public school my guess is he would have migrated to the lowest possible common denominator. Either on purpose or because he would have found himself constantly sitting out with those boys, labeled as "trouble-makers".
How's this for an idea? Join in the fun! Let's crash cars together! Let's see who's car can make it to the bottom of the stairs faster? Let's go for a walk and collect acorns, then we can go home and smash them with a hammer! How about a bunch of sticks, and then we'll see who can through them farther in the yard. Hmmm.... sounds fun, I'll see you all later. Gonna go smash some things.