Archive for the ‘dads’ Category

What if who we are isn’t quite enough?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Most of the time I love being the mother of sons.

Well maybe not today as the wild child hid under the clothing racks in Witchery and then started licking the mirror after he was asked to stand still. Or when I put the cheeky bubba down and they both preceded to wrestle on the floor in fits of laughter.

I know that the energy, the risk taking, the boundary pushing and all the wrestling can seem like hard work now when they are little and pretty much uncontrollable. But as a teacher of teenage boys, I know that this energy, the desire to be and do rather than analyse and doubt can be so positive. I particularly like the immediacy of boys, their innate ability to live in the moment. Often this is frustrating, and as an English teacher, can have negative effects. Some days you long for the perfectionism of some girls, their desire to improve and the work ethic they employ to get the best results. But usually the ability to move on, get over it, laugh at themselves is refreshing and makes it easy and pleasant to be in their company. Boys can forget quickly, they can make the same mistakes over and over and over, wear the consequences and get on with it. My wild child is a bit like this, but he is not quite four, so there is a long road ahead to the grunting years of secondary school.

Yesterday he surprised me. His teacher at daycare told me how she loved how he speaks up for another little boy who is shy and younger than the others. She described my wild child with such tenderness, telling me how he sweetly looks after this other little boy, only a tiny bit littler than him, that I had to look away. It made my heart melt.

Recently, the experiences of two young men have made me question just how much boys, or any child for that matter, are self determined, and how much impact parents can really have. These two young men are in strife. They have massive drug addictions, mental health issues, are engaging in criminal behaviour and are at risk of hurting themselves and others. They come from families that love them, with both parents still happily together and with the best intentions for their sons in the forefront of their busy lives. These parents have done the best with their kids, and yet this is the situation they are now facing. Both talk candidly about the trouble their sons are in, and when you look into their faces as they share their stories, the pain in their hearts is palpable. They know they have made mistakes, as have their sons, but at the moment the consequences are much more difficult for their parents.

These men both have had some difficulty in their lives, but so do a lot of teenage boys and they don’t all turn out like this. So you wonder what went wrong. Do we get a chance as parents to map out their journey, or are we merely observers? Is it our job to know which friends are going to do more harm than good and very carefully steer them in a different direction without making that friendship even more appealing? Is it enough to teach our boys to communicate effectively? Reflect carefully? And know how to reach out to those who will always be there if things do get out of hand? We will make mistakes, as they will, and we have to teach humility with our own examples. But we also have to make them accountable for their behaviour.

And maybe just hope with everything you have that our beautiful boys will continue to surprise us, in the best possible ways.

 

When the easy baby becomes the hard one

Monday, March 18th, 2013

My cruisy, cuddly baby boy is growing up. Just a little every day until one day you look at him and you think, you are just not that little baby any more. You remember what the wild child was doing at his age and how much older he seemed then. With the first one, you are desperate for all of those milestones, not for the sense of achievement, but just to know what the next stage will be like. But with the second you try and keep them babies for as long as you can.

At fifteen months my bubba still isn’t walking. His brother was running by this stage. And I think that made him seem older. He could stand up while drinking and eating, he no longer had a bottle at all, he ate what we ate, he had a few more words and he was getting wilder. For the bubba, he is changing. He now chases his brother round in a fury and when he gets him he tackles him. They both squeal in delight at this, until someone gets hurt. He throws his head back hard, whenever he doesn’t get what he wants, he throws bowls of food and he is refusing to go to sleep by himself.

Sure he still loves being held and cuddles into you when he has his blankie. He crawls so fast he doesn’t need to walk yet and you know pretty clearly what he wants with all the noise and the gestures. But now he is the one to watch. He is the one crawling up and down the aisles at a christening, or screaming in the supermarket. He is the one that you have to pin down to get clothes on, or dont bother and just get really good at putting nappies on standing up. He now steals toys, knocks over towers his brother has built and wacks the dog in the head for attention. And he is the one who is obsessed with his Dad.

You forget how they change from gorgeous little chubby babies into toddlers with personalities. It is lovely to watch and wonder which of this behaviour will stay and determine the kind of person he will become. You laugh at his antics, and laugh that he loves an audience. You try and teach him to be gentle or watch him quickly find out what consequences are. You watch him discover and realise and delight. You watch as the rock pools become fascinating, the table become something to climb on, and his brother become a constant source of entertainment. You watch them play and interact and inevitably fight. And you remember all of this change that the first went through.

And then you reconsider what it might be like if there was another trailing along, not too far behind. Maybe my husband is right.

Just dont tell him yet.

 

What if all the Mums were Dads?

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

How different would the world we live in look, if all the Mums staying at home bringing up their kids, were Dads doing the same?

I watch my husband on weekends when he gets to hang out with the boys and I realise how much better he is at this parenting business than me. He is patient for one. Now, thankfully, he also loses it on the fifteenth request for the three year old to get his shoes on, or dodging the fourth piece of toast that gets flung from the hand of the one year old. But I probably would have started the count down on the third request and given up on the toast all together.

He loves being outside. Just like the wild child and the crazy baby, he happily spends hours outside, all day even. He builds and fixes and makes and mends. I water the plants and bring the washing in and play with the boys, but if I had my choice, I would much rather lie on the trampoline reading a book.

So I wonder, what would our kids be like if most of the primary carers were Dad’s? Now I know these ideas don’t fit every dad, but they do apply to some.

Would kids happily live on meat and fruit? Potentially not even being able to recognise a zucchini or capsicum?

Would they roll around and wrestle and sort it out themselves, without the high pitch female voice telling them to stop?

Would they wear really badly matching clothes? Who would care if they did? Or like in my house in summer, would just shorts suffice?

Would they happily watch any kind of sport on the telly, just as long as it had men competing?

Would hair ever get washed with anything stronger than water?

Would parks be filled with men hanging out with their kids, chasing and running and throwing balls and riding skateboards? This is a picture I love. I just wonder how many extra kids might have a plaster cast on an arm or leg.

Would kids learn to put dishes in the dishwasher and clothes in the basket? Or would this all happen on one afternoon a week when the mess gets too much? How much more fun could you have if you only had to clean up once a week!

Would prams become obsolete as men just carry their kids around, on shoulders, backs, upside down, with one hand?

It is a world I love the look of. Happy, busy, outside kids. Few hanging out in cafes or shops, instead going to the hardware store or taking the take away coffee to the look out to climb and jump and play in the dirt. Kids might learn to fish or ride bikes earlier or throw balls higher.

But then maybe this is all so appealing to me because I have boys and I know that boys need awesome men around them to grow into awesome men themselves. Maybe I just wish for a world where there is more part time of everything for everyone. I don’t know but I’d like to see how it goes for a while.

 

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