A Boys Life (typo intended)

Posted by on May 25, 2010 | 4 comments

I have three boys, ages 4 1/2, 3 and 17 months.  I could end this post right there and leave more than a few of you with knowing laughter.  I feel like I should include the general populace, though, so I’ll continue.

Life with three boys is not the life I had envisioned.  My entire life I dreamed of being a mother, and I always assumed I would have at least one girl.  Boy/s, too, but always a girl.  As it turns out, my younger brother got the girls.  Four of them.  And I have the boys. 

My older brother has two boys and a girl (now in their 20’s), and I can still recall the day he told me he had obviously been out of his mind to have two boys so close together.  Little did I know I’d have three children – boys, no less- spaced almost exactly the same as his.

I was thrilled when Jack was born.  I was tickled when Lennon was born.  When we found out we were expecting child number 3, I was once again overjoyed, but made a pact with myself:  if this child was a girl, then yay.  If this child, however, was another boy, then that would be it.  We would have an adventure with 3 boys.  No more babies, no “trying for that girl.”  And so it would be.  People still ask if we’re done, if we’re “really sure,” and I can say definitively yes.  We are on an adventure.  And boy, what a ride it is.

Girls have their own challenges.  They are particular.  They are advanced in a lot of ways, and they will break your heart into a million pieces in a million different ways.  They also require a lot of upkeep in the form of shoes and clothes and pretty pretty princess ponies or things of that ilk.  Yes, I’m generalizing, but you get the point. (And for the record, as a child I only needed the shoes and the ponies.  Ok, and the clothes.)

Boys, however, are a breed of their own.  Boys with sisters aren’t fully in their own element, but boys with brothers?  Stand back, it’s on.  And a family of all boys?  Well, let me tell you from my vast four and a half years of experience, it’s something to behold.  My boys are the sweetest children I’ve ever met.  They are also just a little evil.  Maybe it’s because they can melt my heart while simultaneously ruining my favorite Christmas ornaments.  Maybe it’s because they destroy everything I hold dear, including my ability to remain angry.  They constantly amaze me.   And they constantly remind me to expect the unexpected.

I see photos of my friends’ children’s bedrooms with pretty beds and little play tables and bookshelves and things hanging on the walls.  I come back to reality thinking of what my children would do to those rooms.  Currently my two older boys live in a bedroom furnished with two toddler mattresses on the floor, a paper lamp hanging from the ceiling (whose days are numbered), and a couple of pieces of Jack’s artwork that are hung just out of reach.  For now.  They have no curtains anymore.  They have no bookshelves.  They have no toy bins that can be stood on without collapsing (thank you, IKEA).  Their carpet bears the markings of what trouble two small boys can get into in the span of an hour of unsupervised “nap time” (their closet is the only storage in the apartment, and it is usually locked… unless someone forgets).  It is splattered with paint and crayon and organic substances that make me glad on a daily basis we don’t have to pay to replace the carpeting in this apartment.

I used to wonder if we were the only ones who had to move all of the toys into our cramped living room.  If we had the only children living in a barren cell with only their blankets and trains to soothe them at night.  If our walls, covered from floor to 4-year-old height (and a tall one, at that) with crayon and chalk murals, were the shame of the playground.  Of course, none of this is true.  Although late night viewings of Sh*t My Kids Ruined definitely soothes my soul. 

I also wonder how big a role autism plays in this scenario.  If Jack were a neurotypical child, would we be able to have bookshelves?  Would I be able to give them the bunk beds I’ve been dreaming of without the fear of them flying through the air from the highest point?  Would I not constantly live in fear of them breaking their bedroom window with a sippy cup (again)?

I’ll never know.  And yet, somehow I do know.  I had brothers.  My older brother is seven years my senior, so my main memories of him from childhood were stories my mother told me.  Stories about writing his name on things with bodily fluids.  I also get stories from him about my nephews, who while angelic, were also quite destructive.  I have witnessed for myself the holes in the walls, the broken bedroom doors, the tables sawed into with innocent “toy” saws. 

I witnessed my younger brother’s antics firsthand.  A room filled with creatures from the local pond (I vividly recall my cat chasing baby frogs down the hallway).  My dollhouse vandalized and my poor dolls defiled.  And yes, I watched him leap from his second-story bedroom window to the ground below.   He was fearless, and had a glint in his eye that said “stand back world, I’m here to conquer you.”  And he did.  He jumped any and everything with his bike, and later, his skateboard.  He set things on fire, usually in his bedroom.  And after he promised my mother he would not go skydiving, he did it anyway, and told her about it afterward.  He was, and is, all boy.  A boy who is now raising four girls.  Karma usually has the last laugh.

I see the same glint in each of my boys’ eyes in varying degrees.  Jack has it, but it is measured.  He needs to feel out his surroundings before he masters them.  He also has my innate ability to question authority.  His favorite new thing is to do something “bad” on purpose, then look me in the eye and ask, “are you sad?”  Hm. 

Jack figured it out

Lennon is all my younger brother, with my lack of grace.  He is my trailblazer, showing Jack the way.  He goes down the slides face first, scales the rock walls with ease.   He is often the one I catch literally flying off the couch.  He also falls down or trips or runs into things approximately 17 times a day.  I’m hoping he gains some focus before he joins the X-Games, as I’m certain he will. 

Lennon doing it his way

Kieran is still a wild card, but is already displaying a blend of Lennon’s adventurousness with Jack’s acumen.  Baby gates that still keep Lennon contained (albeit mentally more than physically) mean nothing to Kieran.  He scales every surface he can, and if he can’t, he pulls toys and chairs around to serve his purpose.  He plays on the dining room table regularly, because honestly, it’s just easier than spending my day pulling him off of it.  It’s just a matter of time before he surpasses his brothers in giving me heart palpatations, I’m sure.

Just a matter of time


I am a mother of three boys.  One has autism, which may or may not enhance the situation.  I’m guessing it would have been a wild ride anyway.

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