Sunday, 28 September 2008

It's been a busy week. Especially for middle boy, Max, who is 4. He has been in school all day every day this week for the first time, and that's been hard. He is very tired. So surely he should spend Saturday resting and doing calm, quiet activities..... hmmmm I don't think Max knows the meaning of calm and quiet. Actually, we understand that because he's had a hard week learning and following new rules and becoming institutionalised what he really needs is to be set free for a bit. So we pack up half the house and set out for the nearby woods. As soon as we arrive and the boys are wellied up they are running. Thats when we know they needed this.

We meet up with our friends who have a huge variety of axes for chopping trees up into firewood and the boys get chopping. There was only one scary axe moment when Toby (almost 7) was swinging his axe slightly too close to Max's head. "Toby!" I shout, "thats a bit too close to Max's head". "I told him to move", he shouts back. Obviously Max did not move, so Toby decided to continue swinging his axe anyway. ( Don't worry, for the health visitors and social workers amongst you, I did intervene and move Max out of the way.)

After the novelty of the axes has worn off Dad decides to start a fire. This proves to be a success as all the boys, including Jonah who is 1 but has to do the same as his brothers, sit burning sticks and watching the flames for a very long time. And when it is time to go, what do we do with the fire? This is the best part for the boys..... and definitely something girls fail in miserably.... they stand around it and wee on it! It does the trick and the fire goes out nicely.

Is this a good idea for little boys? Yes. Why? Boys need a bit of danger and a lot of fresh air. What they didn't realise was that we were making sure they were safe the whole time and although they felt limitless there were actually alot of limits in place.

My boys do not 'rest' in the traditional sense of the word. This, to them, is a form of rest. They can open their wings and fly for a little while without having to conform or follow any rules. Even now, as I type, they are donning wellies again to go in the garden and look for frogs / make sticks into bows and arrows / make mudbombs or whatever it is they do. They need to have some safe time without adults intervening all the time. They can make their own choices, make their own mistakes, and hopefully learn from the consequences.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Let me introduce myself.....

So here I find myself at the end of a busy week setting this blog up so that others can join with me in my passionate quest for releasing boys to be boys. Its best if I explain myself a bit.... I have 3 boys who, from almost the moment they were born, are not content with lying or sitting still and quiet. Some have described them as boisterous, others as 'full of life' (is that a compliment or a criticism?). I would describe them as exhausting, loud, physical, loving and full of passion.

I have spent a long time worrying if there was something wrong with my boys, and googling adhd and other things, to try and find answers to why my boys seem to be bursting out of their skins. I have sometimes been shocked at their behaviour ( for example, holding frogs upside down to measure how long they are) and other times watched in total amazement as they have stood for literally hours throwing stones into water. As a mum, and therefore the dreaded 'girl', I do not understand in any way why it is fun to dig holes in mud or climb a tree only to get stuck.

So.... as parents we have embarked on a journey which goes against the grain and have decided to let our boys enjoy their boyhood (with hopefully some safety that they don't realise is there) and are trying to understand why they do what they do, and how we can help them to grow into men who are free to express who they are.

The reason I feel this goes against the grain in our society is because boys are generally expected to behave like girls. A mild example.....Sometimes I feel embarrassed because my boys are the ones running down the high street chasing the pigeons, while the lovely little girls who enjoy shopping with their mums walk serenely next to her, perhaps pointing at a beautiful dress in a shop window. Shops? I don't think my boys even realise there are any shops there.... its just a wide open space with pigeons to chase (people and shops just get in the way!). That is of course an amusing example but there are many serious ways in which our society is failing boys - education being a main one. The result is boys who lag behind and get into trouble in schools because they are bored, ignored or not given an opportunity to learn in a way that suits them; and ultimately men who are frustrated and feel like they are failing. I do not want this for my boys.

I am learning (the hard way) how to help my boys, how to socialise them, how to let them express themselves and how to encourage them to grow and develop in the way they were supposed to. If you have boys, or you teach boys, or you are a grandparent of boys, please join me and we can learn together to let our boys be real boys. Lets not fail them.