When TechnoBoy and The Mercenary were little we refused to tell them who was older. This wasn’t intended as any kind of sociological experiment; we were just trying to keep the playing field balanced. TechnoBoy, who was born first by 5 minutes, was smaller physically. That discrepancy has increased over the years, to the point now that TM is at least a head taller. At one point when they were toddlers, TechnoBoy was pretty dominant over TM, but that changed years ago. Now it’s all Mercenary, all the time.
The boy just naturally has leadership skills. Put him in a group and he’ll be one of the movers, shakers, and decision-makers every time.
He’s been honing his leadership skills by practicing on his brothers (and parents!). Translation: the kid can get pretty bossy, and he’s often challenging my authority and expertise. We’ve been calling his attention to the bossiness problem and how it causes resentment among the team. The boy does have a pretty hard head and it’s very difficult to convince him that he needs to change course, but if you do get his attention he will actually try to improve. I saw that first with the schoolwork issues. He hasn’t worked to my expectations or his potential the last couple of years, but he hasn’t been complaining or having tantrums the way he used to.
We’re going to the county fair almost daily this week because we are in a 4H club and took the chickens to show. TechnoBoy scored higher in the showmanship class (which was a bit of a surprise) and got a reserve champion ribbon for one of his hens. The Mercenary was pretty disappointed but recovered very well overall and we made sure to let him know how proud we are.
Yesterday was our day to do barn duty. Since there were two shifts, I told the older boys they could walk around the fairgrounds while the younger ones and I did our shift, then they could do their work at the appointed time. Oh, my goodness, did that ever sit well with the older ones! You would think that TM owned the place, the way he walked around. And then when I left them there on their own for two hours? They were so pleased.
The Mercenary was planning every move. He had the younger boys convinced that I was going to take them home at noon until I pointed out that they had a choice in the matter. Captain Earthquake said, “He didn’t ask us ‘if we want to’!!! He just said that’s what we’re going to do.”
Yea. That’s my boy.
I was making final arrangements with TechnoBoy about coming back to pick them up and said, “Now you should be done with barn duty at 2:00. What time do you want me to come get you?”
“I’ll go ask The Mercenary,” he said.
I guess that means the pecking order is set for a while. Maybe it’ll mean more teamwork and less arguing. But I hope that TB doesn’t spend his life deferring unnecessarily.
We went back in the evening to meet some friends and watch the antique tractor pulls and then surprised the boys with a game of laser tag on the midway. The whole evening, my Mercenary walked a good ten paces ahead leading the way. Getting them to the laser tag range was difficult because he kept questioning where we were going. Fortunately it only took about 5 minutes to get there so it was a good exercise in cooperation for him without being frustrating.
It’s difficult to know how much to correct and how much to let him just go. We don’t want to crush his spirit, but we do want to polish off the rough edges. And by “rough edges” I mean this is a child who believes he could successfully perform brain surgery with a butter knife. He tried on clothes last week and couldn’t resist remarking on how great he looks several times. He was right, he did look amazing. We’d rather see some modesty and (dare I say it??) humility in him.
This parenting gig isn’t easy, is it?
Earnest Parenting: help for parents of alpha males.