Raising Boys, Lessons I was reminded about this weekend.


Grandma how water can we get into the big balloon? Not much more than this I am afraid.

Raising boys is glorious fun. My husband and I raised five of them over the years. We have had many years of quiet since the good old days. This weekend three of my grandsons, ages 9,8 and 6 came to stay while their parents took a much deserved break from parenting for the long weekend. Raising boys is not unlike riding a bike. When you get back on after being off for a while, you’re a bit wobbly but it comes back fast, These are reminder lessons I have had this weekend.

1) Don’t sit down on the toilet without checking first. The world is so full of things and they are so busy that aiming can get forgotten. My husband is the master of the gentle reminder.

“Next time I find pee on the toilet seat I am going to pee there and make you sit in it!”

2) Mind the bacon. Our two dogs greeted the arriving children with pure joy. I suspect it partly that the boys have endless energy for walking and tossing balls. It is also certainly about food, My husband was busy cooking turkey bacon for the youngest but as fast as he cooked it, it vanished. My husband was astonished by his voracious appetite. As we neared the end of the end of package we figured out that the dogs were getting 5/6 slices.

3) Dogs are often more sensible than boys. Fred demonstrated this by refusing to be a party to a grand scheme to use supplemental dog power to achieve rocket speed on a bike using a playground slide to launch.

4) Four days worth of clean clothing lasts only two hours after a rainstorm. There is something about mud puddles that magically draws them to boys. Mud puddles leap up off the road and pathways and splatter unsuspecting boys who are just standing there doing nothing.

5) Stuff spontaneously breaks around boys. Since their arrival I have fixed a screen, two doors and took my gas detector out of the wall in order to reseat it in its holder. And the bikes have needed repairing about every hour or so. Did you know that handlebars come loose when you try to pop wheelies while going down staircases? No kidding? And please don’t tell me any more. I don’t think I want to know.

6) The best grandparents are the ones who have a well stocked refuelling station open to all boys who arrive without questioning if they are related or not. Essential equipment for such refuelling includes hot dogs, hamburgers, drinking boxes, cookies, rice crispy squares, orange and water melon slices and for the weird kid, raw broccoli. Those little cereal boxes that you can slice open and eat from are a special bonus. The cereal makes great bait for gopher traps. You don’t need to stock up on water. There are faucets all over the campground to drink from.

7) Boys are tougher than they look so if they fall, just turn the other way, count to ten and then only react if there is blood, howling, bent bones, or silence combined with lack of movement. A warning about not doing something like leaping from wet log to wet log, or using the back of a park bench to practice balance beam tricks, may or may not result in sensible behaviour. That will depend on how hard the previous landing was.

We enjoyed two “firsts” that rightfully belong to parents but we got to have them since we were acting in loco parentis. Training wheels make it very hard to bomb up and down on a campground’s gravel pathways with other kids. So the training wheel came off and after a few runs with Grandma beside the bike, and some falls, and a few tips from Grandpa on steering, the youngest is now proficient on a two wheeler, even on gravel and can easily keep up with the pack. We had a rainy day and we decided to go into the city and swim since the beach was too cold and miserable. The eldest needed only a little lesson on front crawl breathing and a lot of encouragement and he succeeded in demonstrating to the lifeguard that he could swim an entire length of the pool. This earned him an orange wrist band and access to the deep end and water slide.

It is very nice to swell up with pride as a parent again.

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