Boys Will Be Boys

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Not this innocent face. No. He would never throw spitwads at church…

The wadded up piece of paper shot across the music area right in front of me while we were kneeling for the Eucharistic Prayer. A minute later, Alex started snorting. I looked at him with a scowl developing, and he whispered, “Was that Michael’s nametag?”

And I realized: yes. Why, yes, it was. My kid made a spitwad of his “nametag Sunday” sticker and flung it across the music area.

Every time I think I’m done being caught off guard by the antics my kids are capable of…boom. There they go.

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Michael Mayhem Graduates Preschool

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Michael, with his toy guitar: “This next song is called “Starlight Can Never Destroy A Death Star So I will Use My Laser.”

I went to his end-of-year celebration at his preschool yesterday, which consisted mostly of him attacking me at frequent intervals with flying leaps and fierce hugs interspersed with little girls coming around to take pictures with him.

It floors me to see how advanced academically he is. He is actually writing messages to us–all caps, no lower case, and asking us how to spell words–but writing nonetheless. Julianna does this app on the iPad for homework. It’s called ST Math. It’s graphic math, with no instructions of any kind, which has on more than one occasion made my head want to explode, but apparently the kids do pretty well with it. She’s doing the first grade curriculum and as we were trying to show her grandparents how this worked on Mother’s Day, Michael watched upside down and then started doing it for her. I had to get pretty firm with him to back off.

In part, it floors me because he’s in a special ed preschool, one where the primary focus of the instruction is the kids with developmental disabilities. We enrolled him as a “peer model” through the school district when he was three to try to develop sensitivity and awareness toward kids with disabilities–because of all our children, only Alex, who witnessed and participated in her early childhood therapies, really has an inherent awareness of and appropriate interaction with her. To her younger brothers, she’s just their sister. They don’t tolerate her desire for hugs, and their power struggles over the iPad and books and so on look like every other sibling struggle. They don’t give her one inch.

There’s great value in having that relationship–Julianna is always trying to get away with things based on her disability, whether she’s doing it consciously or instinctively–but I still wanted Michael to at least be capable of making a distinction.

When it came time to move him to a traditional preschool for his preK year, to make sure he got the needed academic preparation, we found ourselves waffling. He seemed comfortable, and the school was right here in the neighborhood. Often, we bike to and from. The kindergarten teachers at the Catholic school said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. He’ll be fine.” And so we left him in place for a second year.

His teachers at Early Childhood Special Ed have told me repeatedly how seriously he takes his job as peer model, but I always thought that was just teachers being nurturers; I didn’t take it that seriously until one day, Michael and I went out with my friend and her son, who is a couple years younger than Michael, after Jazzercise. The boys jumped around, climbing on and under things and generally being normal little boys while we talked and tried to keep their exuberance (and potential for damage) contained to one corner of the cafe. When it was time to go, Michael’s little friend did not want to go. It was like a switch flipped in Michael. His tone of voice gentled, he helped his friend put his coat on, he held his hand and led him out the door. My jaw hit the floor.

It will be interesting to see how the experience of being a peer model shapes his future character. In the meantime I highly recommend it for anyone looking for an inexpensive and extremely enriching option for preschool. Because clearly, it didn’t harm his academic potential at all.

In any case, such is the world of my littlest guy as the school year closes. I’m having so much fun with him.

Photo Friday Funnies

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If you’re on Facebook, you already saw these, but it’s worth preserving in our family history this way, too. Two nights in a row, this week, we went upstairs to go to bed, checked on the kids, and discovered this:

Boys sleeping_opt

By morning, it looked more like this:

Morning Butts

Happy Friday!

A Random Sampling of the Wanton Destruction Unleashed by Boys

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Kids make messes. They destroy things. I know this. I’ve been around the parenting block a few times now.

But sometimes, when I look around my house, I still don’t understand the sheer destructive power.

How, for instance, is it possible to crack a countertop using only a TOOTHBRUSH?

cracked-counter

How can the need to move fast and hard be so overwhelming that you RIP THE FRONT OFF A DRAWER?

broken-drawer

Why is there this inborn need to bang forks on the table, leaving hundreds of dents in the extremely high-quality oak table we invested in to accommodate large gatherings?

Why is it that after being told sixty-five times, “Put your shoes in the cubbies!” and getting in trouble seventy-three more because you can’t find the shoes you *didn’t put in the cubbies, you STILL TAKE THEM OFF AND DROP THEM WHEREVER YOU ARE?

And what in the name of all that is holy is the deal with ripping holes in knees??????????

(Why, yes, in fact I do consider the multiple punctuation justified.)

Bleach spots on the wall!

bleached-wall

Sharpie on the kitchen table!

Marker on my computer chair!

Marker on the basement carpet!

Paint on the basement carpet!

painted-carpet

DVDs snapped in half! (Have you ever *tried to break a DVD? It’s next to impossible!

Chips in the piano keys!

chipped-keys

Drumsticks. That’s how.

Pee everywhere EXCEPT in the toilet bowl!

Clothing that has a food stain on it five minutes—literally—after it gets put on the body!

The same food smudge across the right cheek that has been there for FOUR YEARS!

Yeah. What dirt.

Yeah. What dirt.

I do not understand this. I know I’m a girl and all, and that I grew up in a house full of girls, but we were not particularly girly girls. I mean, we played on tractors and jumped off hay bales, and we *still didn’t get as dirty and break as many things as my boys do on a regular basis.

Most of the time I am pretty philosophical about it all, but every once in a while it occurs to me that it would be nice to have a house that looked, you know…nice. And it’s an almost daily occurrence for me to send my kids out into the world with a mental groan, thinking of all those parents who manage to get their kids to school with their backpacks neat, their clothes intact, and no black jelly smudges across their right cheek.

It must be my fault, because I’m the mom. And I routinely (read that: virtually always) forget the a) canned good for charity, b) dress-down day, c) stuffed animal for school reward day, d) pajama day.

But I am not, nor do I have any interest in being, a helicopter parent. I’m pretty sure when I was a kid, I was expected to be on top of my own special-dress days. And of course, we didn’t have things like stuffed animal parties and pajama days at all.

And so I continue to navigate an uneasy truce between taking care of my kids and expecting them to take responsibility for themselves.

Besides, I figure I can always pull the “I have kids in three different schools” card. And I do so without apology. Regularly.

The Thing About Boys…

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Michael AlexThe thing about boys is that they’re confusing.

Like my laundry pile. It makes no sense.

On Friday of one week I fold six loads of laundry (I got behind. So sue me), and nine days later, on a Sunday afternoon, I do the next three. And if the laundry pile is to be believed, in that week Preteen wore nothing but six pairs of socks, while Second Grader wore eight uniform shirts. Even though there were only five days of school.

As Miss Clavel said: Something is not right!

The thing about boys is that they sit down with me to watch the Sound of Music and the big 43-year-old boy whines and makes fun of it as much as the 11-year-old one. And somewhere around the wedding scene, when we turn it off for bed, the 11-year-old asks if this is the end, and I say no, everything’s about to fall apart for them, and he lights up and says, “Is there gonna be an explosion? Is somebody gonna DIE?”

And 43-year-old boy goes on a little riff about helicopters exploding in the movies. Talk about collectively ruining the moment.

The thing about boys is that they get wildly excited about Brain Ice.

Brain Ice

 

The thing about boys is the way they like to climb up on the barrel of a cannon. (And what’s most telling: the ROTC guys don’t bat an eyelash.)

Michael Nicholas cannon

And then, of course, there are the practical jokes. Because what else would you do when forced to clean the bathrooms?

Prank 1

Prank 2

Perhaps you’d care for a closeup on that one?

prank 3

Raising boys. It’s a glorious mystery.