Raising Boys to Men?
Sinus issues have been bad around here. Three of the crew have it especially bad this time of year, me being one of them. Then someone brought home a cold... need I write more on the topic?
These middle school age boys. . .
Sometimes they think they are old enough to make their own decisions. Sometimes they ARE old enough. Other times not so much. The finding out when and how this should be given to them is a new thing for us as parents.
At times they are still too young to recognize their limitations.
This is an age I typically have seen a lot of boys start to withdraw. I have wondered if it's parents, mothers in particular, that drive boys at this age to start the withdrawal process.
I don't want to join that club. It's more than just not wanting to though, it's going to be have to be a God-working-through-me-thing and so I'm just as much now as ever, very dependent upon Him.
("God didn't make us random beings, so our behavior (even rebellious behavior) is stemming from a reason. It's important to get to the ‘itch' (core reason) behind the ‘scratch' (outward behavior or attitude)." T. Sanford)
I am enjoying the middle school age that my older boys are in now.
These are good times. This season is jammed full of special times with them. I enjoy our discussions, their ideas, their observations, their friendship, watching them grow and mature through the good and seemingly bad.
It's fun singing together. They break off into parts now and harmonize. Shelton's guitar playing is great fun. They praise in their own ways and music brings me close to them, just like it was in my family growing up.
This past year or so I noticed several of the boys beating on the furniture with their hands when we sang. Like everything is a drum. These boys have always loved rhythm -- some "have it" more than others -- this impulse to make beat.
I remember when Scott was about 6 months old and we were sitting in Taco Bell, he in a high chair. Some rock song came on with a loud beat. Having a dad at that point who believed all beats but a 1-3 waltz were sinful (if you're unfamiliar with this idea, that's ok, you haven't missed out.) Scott had never heard anything with a beat.
His face lit up, his eyes bright and he began to hit the table IN TIME with the music.
At that time in our lives, Robert was quite certain this "evil deed" came from my side of the family. I smile now just thinking about it.
We've come a long way since then to freedom from the law. Though we aren't sure what law and why now on that one! Nevertheless, it's been neat to see how some people just have it "in them," that rhythm and beat, and it's a gift from God and can be used for His pleasure!
Last week I had a little extra cash saved. I marched myself into the music store with the five youngers that morning and bought a cool hand percussion Toca drum.
The boys were thrilled! They take turns with it, taking my ipod and putting it on their favorite playlist, putting in the ear phones, going to their room with the drum and they pound away.
No, it doesn't drive me crazy. I take turns too.
Rhythm, beat, dance is deep and throughout me. God made me that way. It's yet just another wonderful way of worship for me to give back to God. I can't explain it, but it is like joyfulness and gratefulness shown back to my Father for all that He does for me.
I think it's really awesome, this drum. I think some boys have a need to get pounding out, to beat something, to make music with it and I have loved seeing their enjoyment. One son in particular has an amazing gift at it. He has picked it up like second nature and the rest of us just sit and listen and go, "Wow."
Next day now - it's been too busy around here to post right away.
Writing more of this middle school age boy thing. . .
The difficulties are different these days. I've traded in diaper disasters for questions on dating. I've traded mud messes for math problems that are too difficult for me to remember.
Gone are the days they fight over who has had what legos for how long and in comes things like cologne, ahum - yes, with my boys (and I thought only sisters were like this!) - "He's wearing my shirt, Mom, and he didn't ask and that's like my favorite shirt, remember the one you bought me that you said was just mine?"
No, I don't remember, but I guess they are old enough to have their own shirts. And far old enough to not dress alike anymore and all those other little things that when they were younger, well, it was just easier to do. Buy one size-fits-all - you'd have thought that was my motto anyway if you go back into the archives and take a look at pictures.
Yes, dressing all in the same outfit was so much easier. That's how I kept track of them. Truly helped so much! Color coded always did do wonders for me, especially out in public when making sure none had run away was a lot harder!
Now they can keep track of themselves and they have developed their own style and taste for different clothing. It's great. I enjoy their uniqueness. I only occasionally put limitations on the outfits - like too saggy pants, or my no flip flop rule if it's below freezing.
I like how they stay up at night and read. Sometimes Shelton is playing his guitar, Christian is reading on the bed, Scott is talking with Bub or playing a game with him. Sometimes, like tonight, Scott is reading out loud to all the boys. They are reading Tim Tebow's book together.
Some nights before bed they are still restless and it's like a mad house in their room. Nothing in the world can settle them down. It's crazy and I give up thinking boys this age should know better, because it would be rejecting this season to squelch their energy. I love their energy. . . but mostly I want their energy! ! !
The volume level seems to go into the night, my falling asleep the only thing that drowns it out.
I know without a doubt I will miss all that boy noise one day. Oh, I will so miss it.
They have each other and they love each other and sometimes I don't even think they know it. . .
Because that's how it's always been, and I don't think they realize it isn't how it will always be - being together I mean. I don't think they know how awesome it is they have each other.
Or ya know, I think the older two are realizing it for the first time, truly. I am witnessing a deeper bonding in these boys as they get older.
I'm glad they still have their fights. But unlike us women folk, seconds later, they are best friends again.
Their wings are growing. I see them. I feel them.
They want them and they dream, they push forward to grow; to lead, to know - to push towards manhood.
I relish these days that they've not flown yet, but I am not disappointed that they will fly.
I want them to fly.
I never want to be the one holding them back, keeping them boys when they need to learn to be men.
I guess I've just seen my share of examples of moms mothering their sons to death. Or rather, keeping them their boys, not encouraging manhood - they might say they encourage it, but their actions don't speak it. They don't want them, not really, to have wings and fly -- unless they just "fly" the way and to where they want them to go. . .
Because maybe as moms we sadly derive too much of our identity/satisfaction from our children, and not really find it completely in Christ Jesus. We struggle with controlling our sons. How sad.
Poor boys if we are doing that. They will want to fly from us all the sooner.
We cling to them because we aren't clinging to Jesus.
These evenings it seems they do a lot of talking. We talk about work, jobs, money, responsibility, dreams, relationships, sex, marriage, drinking, dating, drugs. Just about everything. They ask more questions then ever. I'm glad they are asking them now. I'm so glad we are in their life to walk them through, to disciple them, to guide and direct and love them onward.
We go through tough discussion sometimes too. There are even tears and misunderstandings. Isn't that how every relationship is? Well, if it's not, then someone is controlling someone else and there isn't freedom of speech! Our disagreements or hard times teach us all, and push us past ourselves to look unselfishly.
Like the other night Shelton and I had a hard time and about half way through it I realize I was wrong. I wasn't being sensitive to his heart because all I could hear was his immaturity. I wanted to correct him and send him on his way corrected, mature.
Then God stepped in my brain I guess you could say and was like, "Really, Alyssa? Can't you see the "itch" he has - it's something deeper. Don't push him away, draw him in with hope. Hear him out. Understand him like you wanted to be understood at that age."
Humbling isn't it? For me anyway, it is. But humbling myself does seem to bring him around to the same. Ya know, it's more often then not, "Like father/mother, like son." A wonderful closeness resulted from it all in the end.
He is much like me.
We talk church sermons because they bring them up -- because now they understand them better because they are facing more real life experiences. They seem more hungry for the eternal. Already to them, the world seems empty.
I tell them how much I miss them when they are at school, not all mushy like, but just straight out to the point.
I don't just say, "I miss you when you are gone." Because as anyone who knows who is a part of a big family that can sound like, "Man, when you're gone, I miss you because of all the help you give me when you are here and it's better to have help with everything around the house then to do it all alone. . . I missed you because I had to empty the dishwasher myself!"
I never want my kids to feel I miss them because of what they do for me.
I like them! Their uniqueness. . . the stuff that sets them apart. I want them to know I seriously like WHO they are!
Instead I've said, "Man, I sure missed you today! I miss who you are. You are an awesome person. I'm so proud of you."
Sometimes the two older ones will forget they are nearly 12 and thirteen and a half. They will hug me tight. Especially if I scratch their back before they go to sleep.
They will still do things that remind me of those days when I could still pick them up off their feet and swing them up on my shoulders. Sometimes I want to pick them up and just hug them and kiss them like when they were little.
I refrain contentedly, I wait -- I cherish the side hugs, the squeezes and the, "Goodnight, Mom, love you," that comes in their good timing.
Cherished are the glances they make at me from across the basketball court when they're out that play. Or their straining neck looking for me to come and get them in the carpool lane at school.
I cherish the, "Hey, Mom, does this look good together?" and when they want my opinion on anything. Awesome.
"Mom, that was an awesome meal!" -- yeah, food is such a guy thing.
Or, "Mom, can I talk to you about something for a second?"
When I hear that last line I know they typically want to share something with me that is going to be hard. Like, "Mom, I got a bad grade," or "Mom, I saw something bad and it bothered me. . ." or "So and so said something that really hurt."
I determine to not lecture because I hate lectures.
I determine to not be surprised. Stay calm.
I determine to speak HOPE and LOVE.
When they just come sit by me, that is special.
Just having them at home, that is special.
I am grateful for the phone call that comes from one of them on my cell phone when they are away. Or the, "Mom, did you see me when I made that touch down?"
The smiles that are to me, those are special. The asking for my help with the homework, or my advice on something even more important - these are blessings from God to me.
I feel very blessed.
I want to enjoy this season, and I am.
This time of boys to men. . . there will be growing pains, but I have the choice to give grace in the midst of it all.
Here's to believing that one of the greatest things I can give my sons is HOPE.
Hope in his future. Hope in how I see God working in his life. Hope in what is to come. Hope of forgiveness, and hope of Christ's coming. Hope in getting better at whatever. . .
Hope in Jesus.
The thought comes to me, "If there is anything I would want my boys to look back and say about me it would be that I always gave them hope."
Because that is what Jesus gives daily, even this very morning, to ME!
One of those very "boy moments" last weekend:
They were pulling the two little girls, happily along when suddenly they make a unexpected sharp turn straight down the hill. The girls didn't know they'd signed up for the "roller coaster preparation class!" Take a look at their faces. Can't help but love.
Tough girls. Crazy boys.
| ||Posted 2/3/2012 10:46 AM - 1588 Views|