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Boys Will Be Boys

Posted by Kristen on July 12, 2010 at 6:10 AM in Raising Boys
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We went to the old pioneer house and the guide started with her schtick.

"In a few minutes we are going to show you the saws that the pioneers used on the Oregon Trail over one hundred fifty years ago, and then we are going to let you saw a piece of wood. It will be great fun because normally your mom and dad won't let you use a saw."

My children got on that saw, and the girl was worried they were going to build a log cabin right then and there. It was fairly obvious they had handled adult tools before. I didn't even have the energy to apologize for my three-year-old being able to wield a bow saw better than your average settler.

This was not the first time my three- and five-year-old had taken matters into their own hands this week. While on vacation, my husband took them for a ride in the paddle boat and showed them how the rudder works. Not twelve hours later I found myself diving off the dock onto the paddle boat as Ethan and Nathan were leaving to take the paddle boat for a spin.

Ethan: BUT MOM!!! Dad showed me how to do the paddle boat.
K: Ethan, Dad showing you the paddle boat is not the same as you taking your brother for a spin alone on the lake.
Ethan: But I KNOW how to do it.

You see, the disconnect is "knowing" how to do it and it being safe enough to do. They wear their life jackets, so of course they feel perfectly safe. When I caught Ethan backing the kayak down the embankment at my in-laws house yesterday to take it for a spin, I nearly lost my mind. The rapids aren't horrible but certainly out of the realm of reality for a small child. Just tonight I flipped the kayak over on the river and it took everything to hold on to the kayak and dodge the looming rocks. My right shin shows the evidence of my failure.

Everyone seems to have a suggestion with how to deal with my "active" children but now I'm just tired. I've given up explaining WHY you can't do something and have resorted to going to all lengths to make things impossible. We don't leave keys in accessible places. The kayak was pulled up in front of the house and was too heavy to move. The paddle boat? Well, we just had to leave that place.

One of the cousins asked me if I thought it was just boys. I mean, her kids are the same age and none of them have ever stolen a paddle boat and taken it for a joy ride. In fact, I know NO ONE whose child has left in a paddle boat when the kids were five and three. I'll admit that I have apparently reached my "boys will be boys" fill since my heart cannot absolutely take one more drama, at least today. It's not much of a consolation but right now it's all I have. That and making sure the keys to the lawn mower are hidden.


Courtney writes...

I don't think it's so much boys will be boys, as much as very smart children tend to get themselves in over their heads. They can figure out how to do things, they just don't understand they shouldn't.

Johanna writes...

Hilarious!!! So true. We only have one four-year-old boy, but it feels like we have more than that. He's everywhere at once. He's inexhaustible. And he's convinced he can drive the car when he turns five. OMG.

Jene' writes...

It sounds like you are doing the best you can under the circumstances (only one of you and three of them!). My daughter is a singleton and only 3, but she, too, is very much embracing a state of mind where she thinks she can do anything and if she "can" then, automatically, she should! Smart and active is a really tough combination at this age.

Libby writes...

Oh Kristen, this article made me laugh. Hard. My children are the tentative kind - look before you leap. Which, of course, has its frustrations of its own - but nothing that even comes close to your adventures. Since I've started reading the Supersisters articles, I've fallen in love with your little action-packed men and I look forward to reading the next installment.

Susan S. writes...

Oh my! Is this what I have to look forward to?? I have an almost 5 year old, and we are expecting little man #2 any day now...

Amber writes...

This is totally something that my daughter and her friend would do. Solo, they wouldn't. But together, they manage to talk each other up to a LOT of stuff. They haven't yet taken a boat out, for lack of opportunity, but they have done all kinds of other stuff.

I get very similar arguments, in fact. "But I really KNOW how to do it." Or my personal favourite, "I promise to try really hard not to break my leg / fall / drop the delicate object / etc." I'm sure she really thinks she'll be fine, but at 5 years old I'm not so sure.

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