A Few Good Moms: Can you handle the truth about boys?

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The mom hears hollering and looks outside. She cannot find her child until she realizes that he is on top of the basketball goal. His sibling has turned the lacrosse rebounder around on the other side of the driveway and is pitching balls into it to see if they will hit the basket – or better yet, his brother.

You want the truth about boys? I think you can handle it.

I am the mother of two boys. I currently feel boy-induced admiration watching a backyard version of American Ninja Warrior, and suffer boy-related PTSD and with balls whizzing constantly and randomly past my face. I have serious doubts as to whether my house will survive another boy summer. We have actual holes in our walls. All of my pictures are crooked because the second floor hallway has become an indoor basketball court, and the house is constantly shaking to the rhythm of pounding boy feet.

But to be fair, it’s not always loud and proud over here during the summer. Sometimes things get real quiet. This is not a good sign. My kids were occupied and unobtrusive one summer day, huddled together and involved in a project. They requested duct tape, pens, picture hangers, straws, and nails, and then disappeared. The end result? Homemade blow darts. Look, Mom! Wait, lean back a little bit. Now look! Bulls-eye!

Boys are physical. Their physicality is as much a part of their being as the color of their hair or the sound of their voice. They jump and run and climb. As a toddler my oldest son was missing once and it turned out he was right behind us, at the top of the doorjamb having climbed up the wall, literally. Boys seem to be in constant motion. I fantasize that I will figure out a way to harness and contain that power and use it to alleviate the global energy crisis . . . perhaps not a totally clean option, but apparently endlessly renewable.

Boys are fearless. For the mom, some days this may feel synonymous to boys are foolish. They are either long on bravery or short on (healthy?) fear. They will not hesitate to walk the tightrope of the tippy top of the back fence, to careen down the hill on their long board, to swim across the lake, to hike to the top peak, to face off on the football field. Marianne Williamson once wrote that in everything we do, we either act out of fear or out of love. Maybe this is why I feel such affection watching my daring kids, even while holding my breath as I do. In the grown-up world of anxiety and trepidation and hesitation and careful consideration, boy boldness – this full force embracing of the moment – is as refreshing as a glass of iced tea, or opening the door and stepping into your AC on any August day in Charlotte.

Moving through the world in this physical, fearless way permeates the air around them (as does their aversion to bathing, but that’s another story). They fill up the space. When they are happy, they are loud and silly. And confident – even when they are completely wrong.

Like when I was driving carload of boys who were singing to the radio, something that surprised me a bit initially and then floored me as they began to belt out Taylor Swift. They sounded pretty good too, except something was off. Finally, I realized that instead of singing the line boys only want love if it’s torture, one friend was caroling loudly boys only want love if it’s Georgia. I believe he was thinking of his favorite college team. I wanted to freeze that moment forever. Someday love may be torture, but for now, it’s all about football, baby. I can still hear that loud, clear, wrong-but-preferable tune. Ah, boys.

As a parent, it may be challenging to be in charge of folks who go at the world so differently. But I have learned that just because someone is different doesn’t mean he’s wrong. (Unless he keeps forgetting to flush. Very different, always wrong.) While I may be tempted to add that which does not kill you makes you stronger, I won’t overstate the situation. Because they may be wild and powerful and fierce, but the truth is, so is the love I feel for my boys.

Want to get a better handle on boys? Read this awesome poem by Sharon Olds who captures the sometimes jarring nature of boys, check out this essay with tips for moms raising boys, and take note that boys never outgrow their fun with this clip from The Social Network.