“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)
And if raising sons has taught me anything at all that the rowdy twin brothers I was raised with failed to do, it’s this: boys not only think very differently than girls (in my experience), they occasionally have a lapse in common sense!
My oldest child was an energetic child. His antics led me to many unexpected experiences—like the time I took him to a McDonald’s play land and while he was in a tunnel, I watched children stream from every colorful plastic opening, running and screaming in terror in the race back to the safety of their mothers’s arms. I watched mothers attempt to comfort their crying children as they complained of a “beast” in the tunnel, and before I knew what was happening, out came my son: growling, hissing, clawing the air with his hands, roaring for all he was worth and looking as fierce as a 3 or four-year-old possibly can. Followed shortly afterward by all mothers’ eyes upon me in condemnation for raising such a child who would behave in such a way. I was mortified! It was a long time before I dared let him venture back to a play land. (Probably a healthier choice for him anyway.)
But I realized a few months ago, when confronting the behavior of my second son, that for all my oldest son’s energy, creativity and questionable boyhood antics that led to a few broken bones and several surgeries over the course of his life, he still made it through high school graduation without a single visit to the principal’s office.
Wish I could say the same about his younger brothers!
Shortly around the time my youngest ditched kindergarten a few months ago (which resulted into a trip to the principal’s office) I got a call from my middle son. He called from school, crying so hard he could hardly speak, and all I could understand was, “I’ve made a terrible mistake, I’m so sorry!” over and over again.
You know, it’s interesting. Having lived through some of the lovely adventures that have been mine in the course of my life, particularly since my first husband dropped the Ponzi scheme bomb that destroyed my world and others in 2009 and revealed the double life he had been leading and the crimes he had committed, I have some crazy “automatic” responses. When I got the call I was mentally thrust into a different time, and instead of reacting like a normal mother (I assume normal mothers worry about…what? Missing the bus, or a missing homework assignment?) my mind immediately races to thoughts of big lies, cheating, stealing, serious betrayal and behavior worthy of prison time. I think, “Oh no! It has finally happened! I knew this was coming, that THIS is how the trauma my children lived through is going to manifest itself.” It’s a crazy split second or two until I calm my psyche and ask, “What happened?” never letting on that my mind has already imagined the worst.
Turns out, my middle son had gotten in a fight at school on the playground! I guess the bright side of it was that he had chosen to confront a boy well-known for bullying students and who had been in several fights at school already (if school yard gossip can be relied upon at all), and after my son had turned to adults at the school for help and the situation didn’t change, my son took matters into his own hands and decided to take a stand. I was shocked at how intentional the decision was: the boys had scheduled their “fight” via Facebook! And both showed up at the appointed place and time, the next day, to follow through.
Needless to say, my middle son sent his last Facebook message that day. When I got home from work, I told him to write his last internet communication—a Facebook message apology to the boy—to send it and then suspend his account, and to prepare to go to the boys’ home and also apologize in person. I ended the conversation with something about how disappointed I was by his choices and how poorly his actions reflected not just upon himself, but upon our family and the type of mother people will assume he has because of his behavior! (My husband let me handle it, but had his own questions: like, did my son get any good punches in before school officials broke up the fight? Men! Boys!)
Both boys apologized, shook hands and agreed to go to school the next day and let everyone know they had worked things out. Make that TWO visits to the principal’s office for this son (he called 9-1-1 from an old cell phone of his dad’s that “didn’t work” while out on the school playground with his friends in Colorado, trip #1, followed by a visit from the sheriff who responded to the call; and enjoyed excursion #2 six years later because he got into a boxing match with a bully in Utah) but all’s well that ends well, right? As long as a good lesson was learned!
“To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.” (Jack Handy)
Snakes, snails, puppy dog tails, Facebook fights, boxing matches, visits to the principal’s office and occasional lapses in common sense aside, I love my boys and the opportunity that is mine to be their mother. My greatest effort and work will be, I hope, in raising my boys to become amazing men—upstanding citizens, good husbands and wonderful fathers.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the unexpected life…and their occasional lapses in common sense!