A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Just a Boy?!

I don’t claim to be a wise parent. I am, however, lucky enough to know some wise parents. It is to them (and to other wise people, parent or not) that I am appealing to for help.

son up to son down

I am the mother of three – two girls and a boy. I have been quite honest since becoming the mother of a son that I just don’t quite “get” my son sometimes. He is cute, energetic, funny, and sweet. He is also one of the most frustrating kids I know. He is in a stage right now where he takes great joy in annoying the snot out of both of his sisters. I’m guessing he does the same with other kids at school, since he told me yesterday that one of his classmates called him an ass. We talked about all the reasons it was bad and ugly for his classmate to say that, but I also asked if he in some way earned it. Turns out, he was annoying that kid, too. (You should have seen the look in his eyes when he finally made the connection: being an ass = being a pain in the butt! I have to admit that he makes me laugh, even if I have to hold it inside until he isn’t watching.) He hates chores and will spend hours (yes, literally hours) in his room crying about how long it will take him to clean his room rather than getting down to it and getting it finished. He hoards papers, legos, and other small toys. He will try to lie his way out of trouble sometimes. Fortunately (or unfortunately, for him), he is a horrible liar. There are certain other bad habits, which I won’t share here at the moment, but these bad habits get him in bad trouble. I’ll leave it at that.

When I get frustrated with him, a few people will chastise me and remind me that he is “just a boy.” Yes, I know that boys are different from girls. Still, I have a hard time swallowing this as an excuse. If anyone were to say to me, “Oh, she’s just a girl” when one of my daughters misbehaved, pitched a tantrum, or acted on a really bad habit, I would have to scream “Sexist!” How dare you say my daughter can’t be expected to behave/function normally just because she is a girl! How dare you say my son can’t be expected to behave/function normally just because he is a boy! Or am I wrong? Am I totally missing something?

Yes, I know my son is also ADHD, but I don’t want that to be his excuse for bad behavior either. I’m doing the best I can to help him. He’s on medicine. I alter certain procedures and expectations to fit his capabilities. I make sure he gets plenty of time for free play and exercise. I am determined that I will get serious this summer about his diet and figure out what foods (and preservatives) affect his behavior. I already know that red #40 is bad, as is rich chocolate, too much sugar, and caffeinated soft drinks. Regular sweet tea hasn’t been so bad, although I will probably cut it for awhile too, just to see if I notice any difference. It wouldn’t hurt anyone in my family if we cleaned up our diet a little (or a lot).

I know I don’t have it all together as a parent. I am currently celebrating the fact that so far I am weathering this latest rough spot much more calmly that I have some of the previous ones. I’m frustrated, though. And worried. And wondering if I’ll ever understand what motivates my little guy to do some of the things he does.

So, my wise friends, what advice do you have? What am I failing to see or try? I am open to suggestions. Please be gentle, though. It’s been a rough week for this mom. Thanks!


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10 thoughts on “Just a Boy?!

  1. Susan on said:

    Ah, my darling Sis, you may just be raising a brilliant and bored young man. The one who acted that way in our family graduated from the law school at William and Mary a couple of years ago, He scored in the top 2 1/2 percent on the LSAT when entering law school. He is a flipping genius and migrates toward people who are in the arts who stimulate his mind, His current girlfriend is an art history person. The diet and exercise are a great thing for the adhd, but as far as his getting in trouble (I have on in my life who did the same type of thing when he was in school and bored) is he needs outlets for his mind. Perhaps this summer will be a good time for him to explore creative outlets. Love you bunches and love those super bright men!

  2. My “boy” was a sweet, caring, bright, articulate, well behaved, perfect child. Then my daughter was born. She was stubborn, obstanate, in trouble all the time, and the perfect example of the strong willed child. I also hate the “just a boy” line.
    I understand the frustration and concern. I would love to introduce you to my daugther and to Austin. She doesn’t have all the answers but she is ahead of you a few years in raising an ADHD boy. I am always here if you need to vent by phone, text, or in person!!

    • I do believe you know exactly where I am coming from. Looking at the pictures you posted tonight convinced me that Austin and Gus could be brothers! I will be taking you up on your offer!

  3. Jan, we all go through doubts when we don’t particularly like our child’s behavior. With having older children and a variety of temperaments, I would encourage you to love him, correct his behavior, let him know that you believe in him, acknowledge his feelings but don’t play up his pity party, and know that tomorrow will look different.

    As a younger parent, I would feel anxious anytime my child had anxiety, conflict, or a snarky attitude. It’s not about being a boy or a girl, it’s about being a kid. Kids are foolish and selfish. They’re children.

    And you are a compassionate, concerned parent who is doing just fine! Keep loving that kid.

  4. Remove “just” from that phrase and you get “He’s a boy.” Exactly. Boys are different. Yours sounds like he’s somewhere between 7 and 10 or 11. I have two boys, the youngest is closing in on 12. Between the ages of 8 and 11 I swear their mission in life was to be as annoying as possible: burps, farts, wrestling, Nerf gun fights through the house, teasing the dog, teasing each other (they’re 8 years apart), using every excuse possible not to shower, wash their hair, wear clean clothes, pick up their room etc. Spending as much time as possible playing video games, Wii games, XBox games, baseball, football, etc. And I loved every minute. My “big” boy is 19 now and away at college. I miss him so much I’d gladly rewind back to when he was in eighth grade and would get into the car after school and let the farts rip so bad we had to open all the windows in the minivan. I have a daughter too, and I love her just as much. But there’s something special about boys. They’re boys!


    • You’re right on target – my son is 9. Poor guy is surrounded by girls: 2 sisters and a mom. He needs an male accomplice for his exploits. My oldest is 20 and just finished her sophomore year in college. It seems like yesterday she was 9! Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the present with my kids. It goes by so quickly.

  5. Deborah Ponder on said:

    I also hate the “just a boy” idea. I also can’t explain the obsession with bathroom humor they all seem to share. We never truly “get” our children. We love them, do the best we can, and hope for the best. My most challenging son is now a grown, good, giving and compassionate man. Hang in there.

    • Thank you, Deborah. Your words encourage me. I’m glad that Eric is doing so well. It’s hard to grasp that he and Melinda and that group are adults making their own way now. How can that be?!

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