Thursday, May 29, 2008

And now, a moment at the playground...

In my few short years thus far as a mother, I have come to realize that there are two parenting realities, dictated by the gender of your children. They are called The Reality of Raising Boys and The Reality of Raising Girls. This discovery was a bit of a surprise for me, because before I had kids, I figured parenting a boy and a girl was pretty much the same thing.

Because before I had kids, I was a parenting expert.

It didn't matter that I only have a sister, and didn't grow up seeing boys "in action." I had plenty of ideas on how I would raise my boy, if I indeed ended up having one. No guns. No violence. He would sit attentively through an entire Kindermusik class instead of running laps around the room.


God does indeed have a sense of humor. He sent me Josh.

For the last six months, I've been up to my ears in superhero costumes, foam swords and Power Ranger games (despite the fact that he has never seen an episode of Power Rangers).

Which brings me to our playdate at the park.

The kids are happily playing with their friends, while I watch from a nearby bench with Grace (11 months) and the other mothers. Eventually, Josh finds his way back over to me for a drink. I hand him his juice box. After a long swig, he hands the box back to me, keeping the straw for himself.

I know where he's going with this. I know what he wants to do, and I know what he wants to pretend.

"No, Josh. Not on the playground. It's dangerous to run around with that," I say, hoping to diffuse the situation without a scene.

No such luck.

Josh puts his hands on his hips. I steel myself for what's about to come.

"But I need a gun!" he declares.

The other moms stop talking and shoot curious glances in my direction.

Josh continues, "How am I going to shoot people if I don't have a gun! I need a gun!"

Here would probably be an appropriate time to mention that Josh is three.

I desperately wanted to tell the other mothers, "I DID NOT teach him that." We don't have play guns at home. We don't practice shooting people. Violence is not encouraged. As luck would have it, I'm seated between the mother of a well-behaved girl and another mother who has one of the most laid back, unaggressive boys I've ever seen. I doubt either have had this particular parenting conundrum come up.

"You'll just have to find something else to play with," I say, purposely avoiding any further discussion about shooting people and hoping he'll drop it.

"But that won't work," he whines. I realize he's going to keep pressing me for a solution. "I need a gun!"

By now, everyone's stopped glancing and is just watching, waiting to see what I'll do. I'm at a loss. I don't know what to do with this. I have no idea how to channel the testosterone. Jillian never wanted to play with guns and shoot people on the playground. I rack my brain.

And do you want to know what I manage to come up with? Take a moment to brace yourself for the parental "wisdom" I put into action.

"Well, just use your fingers," I say feebly, with my pointer sticking out the the thumb pointing up.

Josh thinks about this potential solution and shapes his small fingers into a pretend gun. He happily runs off with pointed fingers, shouting, "Bam! Bam! Bam!"

Yeah. Thanks. I'll accept my Mother of the Year crown now.


Domestic Spaz said...

Well, you'll have to share it with me!

As a mother of two boys and having had no experience with boys prior (no brothers, no nephews) I feel your pain. Sometimes I'm just exasperated. Unfortunately, if my 4 and 8 year olds are any example, they only get grosser and more interested in weapons of destruction.

Kristen said...

HA HA! My boys always play with guns. No matter what building toy you give them (K'nex, Tinkertoys, MegaBloks, Lincoln Logs), the first thing they build is a weapon. With Legos, they build spaceships (with blasters). It doesn't matter if you raise boys in a convent, they will play with guns. Dr. Dobson assures me this is normal. Mine came up with the finger trick all by themselves. It's much safer than the giant stick they usually find at the playground.

pinkmommy said...

Oh girl, you are making me nervous! I, too, have envisioned my boy to be pretty much like the Princess has been only a tad stinkier and a teensy bit more rambunctious. Looks like I will be in for a surprise!

Kellie said...

I too was an anti-weapon mom. When my son was about your sons age he woke up one morning and started making guns out of his toast. I was mortified. I tried and tried to get him to stop, but in spite of my anti weapon ways (even banning squirt guns) he continued.

After about a year, I gave up.

My son, now almost eleven, is the most gentle, tenderhearted boy I have had the privilege to know.

I too suffered the looks and judgements of mothers on the playground in my day. I even had a mother tell her 4 year old daughter, in front of me and my son, that "boys who play with guns, (and mothers who allow it) are bad, bad people."

In her defense she was a Mom with one female child. She didn't know that she didn't know.

The reality is that, on average, little boys who are three years old aren't trying to be malicious when they want to pretend, they are being little boys with imagination.

I think your answer was perfect!

Rachel said...

Ha Ha Ha! That's hysterical.

I was never a frilly pink girly type person. My daughter, all about it.

I have never uttered, Vroom Vroom, the 20 month old boy, does it every time he sees something on wheels.
I swear they're hardwired and we're hard core screwed. I'm just sayin'. :-)

I think you handled it brilliantly and you're right, there's just nothing you can do but go with the flow, accept it and add some humor.

mah-meeee said...

ah michelle, i was just going to blog about my experience as a sub in our church's sunday school.

i have never been raise with boys and i have two girls. i ended up subbing for 2nd to 5th grade boys in sunday school ... and boy was i in for a surprise!

granted - in sunday school, there were talks of guns and shooting.

so, i think it's just a boy thing. now if i'm ever around other parents with boys, i understand.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Totally a boy thing. I just roll with it here.

Just Pure Lovely said...

They're made thataway! I learned that, too, and thought I'd keep the weapons away, too. They'll only find sticks if you do! (said with experience).

There's a book called the Dangerous Book for Boys, which starts out with the author saying that there is a real sensitizing of boys going on these days, so that's why he wrote the book. I agree.

I think God made them to be warriors, protectors, workers (as He said, when they were kicked out of Eden), so it's a natural thing. Still, we obviously do need to curb it, but just to the point of not inflicting harm while they hunt, gather and protect.

What an experience, being a parent! I think you're going about it just right.

Janel said...

Oh, this is so funny!
I remember trying to not even buy play guns for a long time and my son would just make them out of anything - his sandwich or sticks or anything!

It is just so different, isn't it? I have to say that boys just crack me up, though. They are just so funny.

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

Hope you don't mind that I'm commenting on an older post...

That was hilarious. I have one boy between my two girls. They are entirely different creatures, make no mistake about that.

Oh, and had I been at the park, I would have laughed and totally understood.

Lora Lynn said...

Yep, embrace the violence, friend. They can't help it. It's in their chromosomes. At least guns are shorter than swords, which is what mine prefer.

Amy-littletoesandcheerios said...

Now that's a happy ending!

Domestic Spaz said...

LOL! This was the perfect story to link up! I still remember this one from when you first posted it. Thanks for playing along!

Leanne said...

I don't have any boys, just the one girl, but she isn't girly. I swear that child could give any boy a run for their money and then some.

There's been no mention of guns yet, but she did once tell her dad he was naughty and she was going to kick his butt *thank you spongebob*.