Sunday, April 17, 2011
A little while ago, a friend handed me Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph to read. I have read it before. In that 'I've got to interview the author in ten minutes, what will I ask him?' kind of frenzy. But I did not have two little boys at the time. This time, I'm having a long hard look at it. I can, for example, vouch for the testosterone boost at four. I have now experienced it twice. It's big.
Being a mother of boys brings its own challenges. I remember once thinking that I'd got off lightly. I knew what I was like as a little girl, and then as a teenager, and figured that if I never had to deal with another me I was doing all right.
What I hadn't factored in was the sheer boyishness of boys. And young men. This has been brought home to me not once, not twice, but three times in the last few days.
I was driving my two out to visit some friends in a nearby town on Thursday. I had pulled left, out of the overtaking lane, and was debating the origins of The Wand of Destiny with Mr7 with one eye on the right lane that I needed to get back into within 50 or so metres. In my side mirror, I watched a car pull out into that lane, and zoom past me at well over 120km an hour - just to get in front of me. Within a whisker of the back of the senior citizen doing 90km.
P plater. Four young men in the car. As we continued on up the highway, me behind them, the guy in the back right-hand seat proceeded to open the back door and pretend to get out. At 100km an hour.
On Saturday night, The Builder and I attended a 50th birthday party. Old friends of The Builder. A tight, close-knit circle of people who'd all grown up in the same suburb. He was the little brother who was drawn into the circle as he got older.
The 21-year-old son of the birthday boy pulled his Bieber-esque fringe back to reveal the huge, right-angled scar that went from the middle of his forehead, right back up along his hairline. He had dived into the shallow end of a pool after a few drinks and smashed his head into the tiles. We both agreed that he wouldn't be doing that again. We both agreed that he was lucky.
I had a long chat with another of the circle. His son was injured 18 months ago. Lighting the firework that he was holding in his own hand. He will never be the same again, but his father spoke with obvious pride of his progress. He is back at work. He is driving. He is closer to his parents than he has ever been. All of them wish that one moment, that one decision, had never happened.
"Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems." That has been the sage advice that the Birthday Boy has given The Builder and I every time we get together and discuss our kids. He and his mates, all a bit wild in their youth, are also firm believers in allowing boys the freedom to learn their lessons. Some of those lessons are hard. Harder than I can bear to think about. Particularly given that 'No', 'Stop', 'Don't', and 'You'll hurt yourself' are among my favourite phrases.
This afternoon, my two boys wrapped themselves in cellophane strips and proceeded to 'Cowabunga, Dude' a path of destruction around the Fibro. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the heroes du jour. Noisy, messy, physical.
They'll be all right... Won't they?