Raising Boys
by Tammy D. Choleva

I grew up as one of four daughters.  The only thing I knew about boys back then was I was glad I wasn’t one.  Imagine my surprise years later when God blessed me and my husband with boy after boy after boy, five in all, before He blessed us with our only daughter.  With so many sons, God gave me a hands-on, crash course in learning what makes little boys tick.

One of the most often repeated lessons has involved witnessing how disgusting boys are compared to girls.  Our daughter and I both still remember an incident that took place when our oldest son was 14 and our daughter was 4.  One day as I was driving all six children somewhere, our oldest son belched (quite loudly) in the back seat.  A few seconds later, his little sister yelled out, “Yuck!  Disgusting!  P-U!  Stinky!”

I tried to ignore the “grossness” of the moment, until the incident was repeated.  I glanced in the rearview mirror and discovered (to my horror!) that our son was belching into an empty plastic soda bottle, saving the odor by screwing on the cover, then releasing the stench in the direction of his little sister.  Mortified, I immediately went into “lecture mode.”

I exclaimed, “How many times do I have to tell you to think before you act?  Do you think what you just did glorified God?  When you get such brilliant ideas as ‘bottling a belch,’ you really need to practice asking yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?’  Then DO IT!”

Needless to say, my son and I had a verbal battle back-and-forth until my son blurted out, “Sometimes I wish you had brothers when you were growing up!  Then you’d know what boys are really like!”  My son then gave me the silent treatment for the remainder of the trip.

Another common lesson I’ve learned through the years is that boys have a strange sense of humor.  Several years ago, a thunder and lightning storm hit our way knocking out the lights.  I lit some candles, had the kids sit in the living room with me and my husband, and announced I was going to tell stories.  The kids love when I tell stories, especially stories about when I was growing up.  I dug into my memory bank and to their delight came up with a couple new ones.  After my stories, the kids then shouted in unison, “Daddy!  Tell us a story about when you were growing up!” 

My husband isn’t usually the storyteller, so I chimed in, “Yeah!  Tell us a story!”

I couldn’t believe my ears when my husband proceeded to tell his first story.  It was a true “gas” story.  The boys were literally rolling on the ground laughing after that one.  How could my stories ever compare to a true “gas” story?  The kids shouted out, “Daddy!  Tell us another one!”

My husband easily came up with two more “gas” stories.  Again, the boys were rolling on the ground laughing as hard as they could.  My stories simply didn’t measure up.

In raising so many boys, I’ve also learned they possess an inherent oblivion to danger.  Our two youngest boys have been to the emergency room at least twice each for head wounds. In fact, by the time our fourth oldest son was 7, he had matching staple scars on both sides of his head.  By the time our fifth oldest son was 6, he had matching stitches scars on both sides of his forehead.

One of those head wounds involved our youngest son when he was around 2 years old.  As a homeschool mom, I was in the middle of teaching a school lesson to the older children.  As quick as a flash of lightning, the 2-year-old chased his 4½ - year-old brother, who jumped out of the way causing the younger one to go full speed ahead into the leg of a wooden chair, splitting open about an inch on one side of his forehead.  Scrambling to get a sitter, I took the injured child to the emergency room.

When I got there, I explained what had happened.  I was asked to re-explain to the doctor.  The doctor asked me something that led me to say I homeschool our children (boy, did I ever regret that as soon as the words tumbled out of my mouth!), to which he asked how many children we have.  The visit took on a whole new meaning at that point.  It quickly became evident I was now on “trial” for either child neglect or child abuse in the mind of the doctor.

After the doctor finished tying the last stitch, he had our son sit up next to me.  The doctor then proceeded to lift my son’s shirt.  (The injury on his forehead had NOTHING to do with his stomach or back.)  I could tell the doctor was looking for other wounds (perhaps scars from assumed previous injuries).  Seeing none and probably sensing my shock at what he was doing, the doctor stammered, “I just wanted to make sure he didn’t hurt himself somewhere else when he fell.”

For years after that visit, I got nervous every time I had to visit the emergency room for another “boys will be boys” accident.

As a homeschool mom of mostly boys, I am around “gross,” “strangely silly,” “danger-seeking” boys practically 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Still, I am so thankful I am able to homeschool them.  It saddens me to picture boys in today’s society being forced to sit in traditional classrooms keeping all their boyish energy bottled up.  Many are not even being able to release some of that energy by running outside during recess to play Tag or Dodge Ball.  (After all, these games could supposedly result in “improper touching” or “harm” to themselves or another child.)  I am so thankful that as a homeschool mom, our boys have the freedom to be boys, which includes getting outside and running and playing and jumping and being gross and goofy and doing things that just might result in a few stitches or staples.