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Posts tagged ‘raising boys’

boy crazy

We spent Labor Day weekend with a group of friends at the Oregon Coast. The last gasp of Summer 2012. Two houses, and ours was the boy house. At various points in the weekend, there were seven boys, aged 4 months to 6 years, tearing through the house. That’s Kai at left, who I managed to fall in love with, in spite of his dad Kenji being Japanese.

You already know the weekend was nuts, so you probably think I’m going to go all downer on you, but not today, friends. Try this on for size: boys are awesome. Throw in the reliably amusing behavior of their dads, and it all added up to an epic weekend of observing all the different ways in which men can be men.

don’t worry, there’s no maker’s in the yogurt

The weekend reaffirmed for me everything I’ve known since I was 17 and told my high school boyfriend that I wanted three sons. And that is, that boys rule.

finn with cool girl tessa

As I was saying, boy behavior is really fun to observe. Here’s Garrett, a stellar boy child who spent most of the weekend clicking photos on a little fake camera and dragging his brown blanket around. See that bit stuck in his nose right there? That’s the “Stinky Part.” The part that Garrett sticks in his mouth and nose, the part that soothes him as no other part of the blanket can. The part he asks for by name. Garrett’s mom Michele worries that there’s actual mold in the Stinky Part, but he’s a stubborn one. Boys can be that way.


Garrett found a mate in Tate, my chill kid who is usually doing his own thing away from the crowd. In the pic below, there’s a group of sand castle makers, and then Tate, in the distance, making an offering to the sea. He played silently by himself in this manner for a long stretch of time, only pausing to snack on handfuls of sand and some charred wood from a bonfire.


But not even Tate could resist the fun of romping around with a bunch of boys all weekend. And that’s the beauty of boys. Get a bunch of them together, and they physically cannot stay apart. They’re like magnets. The touching inevitably leads to fighting, so you try to nip it in the bud and pull them apart early on, but why? Then you’d miss out on moments like this.

Or this. BTW we don’t think Garrett was going for a Nazi salute. Or that Finn intended to hug his brother by the face. But with boys, sometimes the execution can be a little rough.

Big boys are fun to observe too. Michigan played Alabama over the weekend. Luckily for the group, we can claim as our own, the two most long-suffering Michigan fans west of Ann Arbor. When I met Tom, Michigan was winning, and things were different–he was obsessed, but justifiably so, and while the team might lose a game or two, the season always ended on a happy note. These days, watching Whitey and Tom sit through a Michigan game is akin to watching two people flagellate themselves. It’s all very sad to observe. But also, very funny.

Here they are, mid-game. Note Whitey, self-medicating. Note Chris, in background, bored. Note Tom, looking like he’s passing a stone. Please also note that I’ve actually watched Tom pass a kidney stone, and he looked less pained then than he does here.


Probably due to the strain from staring at a TV that hard for four hours while willing it to show something other than a 41-14 loss, Tom woke up the next day with a bruised, purple eyelid. He admitted early on that it didn’t hurt, but that doesn’t mean the eye didn’t make its presence felt throughout the remainder of the weekend. In fact, given Tom’s intense focus on his eye, you would think that the eyeball had fallen out or was hanging on by a single nerve. When I asked if anyone needed anything at the store, the sole request came from Tom, who mewled that he could use some hydrocortisone and Advil. When he disappeared for an hour before dinner, I found him hiding under a duvet, sleeping. When I poked him awake, he yelled that he was “resting his eye.”

Tom spent a good part of Saturday googling his symptoms on his phone, with no firm diagnosis. For the record: if you google “purple” and “eyelid,” you will quickly land on “eyelid dermatitis.” It took me like 17 seconds, as it might take you—assuming, I guess, that you are female. If you are male, you might start with “purple eyelid,” get distracted by game highlights on ESPN, and then find yourself watching Kate Upton doing the Dougie on YouTube, two hours later. No joke, my friend Ethan has watched that video like 3700 times. But I’m rambling again. I guess if Tom had managed to diagnose his eye, he couldn’t have enjoyed lurking in the background all weekend with a dishtowel pressed to his face. Here he is, photo-bombing poor baby Graham.


Boys are wild. Boys are rambunctious. Boys can be hooligans. But I’d argue that boys have a capacity for uncomplicated joy—expressed through flying-ninja kicks, overeager hugs, and go-go-go—that is second to none. Boys have no talent for artifice, and call a spade a spade, even if that spade means offering the unsolicited opinion that you have a moustache. They love and feel pain with everything they have. And if you’re lucky, your boys turn into men like the ones here: complicated, challenging, indomitable, and my God—so damn amazing.

the cruelest month

It’s late August, and my will to live is pretty tapped.

Why so down, you ask? Because I’ve been having fun with my boys while they are out of school. Doin’ boy stuff. I love boy stuff. But multiple consecutive days of boy stuff will leave you drained of all energy, turning you into a pale carcass devoid of blood and discernable life force. At this point, Tom and I are like two undead zombies, shuffling aimlessly through the rooms of our house and occasionally walking headfirst into a wall. Yesterday, I stepped on a Lego (a windshield piece, which will cut you like a mofo) and I didn’t even feel it.

So how’d we get here? Hubris. I thought I could do all that kid stuff, collect some blog fodder on the way, and return to work tan and refreshed. But everything we planned ended up being so much harder than expected. Like fishing. What could be easier than lake fishing on a warm summer’s day? Well, if a toddler is involved, I can think of a few things that are easier, like deboning a raw chicken with a butter knife, or catching a fly with chopsticks. Tom and Finn had big plans for the trip, with their fishing rods and their worms. Tate and I were unwanted from the get go, even before we got to the lake and Tate started making more noise than a charging rhino.


Who knew that silence was so integral to fishing? Everything Tate did, made noise. He wanted to touch everything in the tackle box and rattle the tackle around. He wanted to splash in the water where Finn had cast his line. He wanted to throw rocks. I finally resorted to distracting him with food and set him on the bank with a bag of Cheetos. You know where this is going. I have never heard anyone eat anything so loudly in my entire life. Who knew those little teeth could crunch so hard? We all flinched with Tate’s every bite, while the fish all fled to the opposite side of the lake. Poor Tom and Finn. No fish were had that day.

Even low key stuff can turn stressful with two boys. Tired of worrying about accidentally drowning Tate in a regular pool, we made our way to a kiddie pool. One foot deep, lots of sun, lounge chairs for Tom and me. Finally, relaxation! For seven minutes that is, until I heard a baby screaming, and looked up to find Finn playing shark and stalking toddlers. The moms of Finn’s victims returned my sheepish smiles with expressions so frosty I’m surprised I didn’t turn to stone. And who can blame them? It was August for them too.


There’s a week of summer left until my kids go back to school. Finn’s in zoo camp and Tate is home with my cousin Lisa, who moved in with us last week. Here’s our text exchange from earlier today.


I should feel bad for her, but all I can say is, better her than me.