I had a couple of conversations with other moms recently that caused me to take a serious look at my expectations of the boys. In the first, my friend told me that her son couldn’t come over and play because he was staying home to do extra homework to improve his math grade. I mentioned that losing out on play time must be a tough lesson and would cause pain and gnashing of teeth.
“Oh no,” she said. “Boys with a bad attitude go to bed early. We don’t tolerate attitudes around here.”
Oh really? Boys with an attitude here have….bad attitudes. I tucked that into my brain to ponder for a bit.
Then yesterday at the store the cashier asked me if all 4 boys were mine. When I said yup, she explained that she had 4 boys as well and gave me their ages. The oldest one was 15, so I asked if they ever grow out of breaking everything in the house. I was mostly kidding, but she straightened right up and told me that no, her boys weren’t allowed to break things in the house.
I gave some kind of wimpy answer about how they’re not allowed to do that in my house either and slunk on outta the store. For the most part, my boys are very good, and most house breaking is accidental. On the other hand, they are really rough and the horseplay can get pretty crazy even though I routinely tell them to knock it off.
Both conversations got me wondering if my standards are too low. I listen to boys gripe about school and each other quite often…even daily…and I usually feel powerless to do anything about it. I’ve basically been just waiting for them to grow out of it. Perhaps that was the wrong approach.
Last evening I told the boys about the bad attitude = go to bed earlier thing and said we were going to try that. Sure enough, today The Mercenary and Captain Earthquake managed to be massively grumpy on a few occasions so I let them know that they’d be going to bed early tonight.
We don’t exactly manage a strict bedtime, and tonight was no exception. Even so, after the boys said their prayers, I sent the two to bed and TechnoBoy and The Manager out to the couch. That was when reality struck The Mercenary. When he asked in a quavering voice if the 2 blessed ones were going to be allowed to (gulp) watch televison, Hubby was right there with the remote.
I had only planned to just snuggle with them on the couch for ten minutes quietly and send them to bed, and the thought of adding insult to injury by turning on the TV seemed a bit much to me at first. But who am I to disagree with Hubby in front of the boys?
Both The Mercenary and Captain Earthquake were pretty offended by developments. We’ll see if the lesson sticks tomorrow.
Earnest Parenting: tips for parents of grumpy children.