Alright, now that I’ve posted my glowing report of the blessings of homeschooling my two kids, before you start thinking this mom has perfect kids who always behave, let me assure you it’s not all snuggles while we debate the classics around here. My kids are “normal,” by which I mean that they often drive me up the wall. Today, in particular, I feel the need to reach out to my fellow mothers of sons and just say,
It’s not you. It’s them.
In an effort to keep it real, allow me to share the following email I sent to my husband this week:
Please make a mental note that when you get home you need to beat the snot out of the boy with the boffer swords (how ever many it takes).
He just took Ashtyn’s shoe while they’re on the swings. He has a seriously ornery streak in him right now that requires a sound beating from the Alpha Male (that’s you, by the way). You should also probably get out the airsoft guns. (Feel free to “accidentally” miss the target and pelt the boy instead.)
Come home. Soon.
Desperately Seeking Solitude
Yep, Mother of the Year. While I am not promoting violence toward children (if sarcasm is not your language, please understand that my husband and I speak it fluently to one another), there is actually some validity in my suggested course of action. This may be difficult for some moms to understand, but mothers, your boys are not like you. Even if they were sweet little angels from age 0-10, something happens when they are on the verge of puberty and hormones begin to exert their influence. Suddenly, your mild-mannered boy is tackling his sister and stealing her shoe on the swing. It’s not your fault. You’re not a bad mother. He’s just possessed. By testosterone. (There’s a reason why there are so many movies made about 10-12-year-old boys. It’s an awkward age and generally painful for everyone involved, so don’t think your child is the only one starring in Goonies.)
Unfortunately, our feminine-leaning society does not know what to do with rowdy boys. Honestly, the quiet, bookish ones are easy to manage. So we encourage boys with those traits and roll our eyes at the aggressive, physical ones, declaring, “Boys will be boys,” as if they’re a cursed group who must simply be tolerated. Yes, they may drive moms crazy with their energy and need for physical acts of stupidity, but if we try to make boys suppress their masculinity for our own comfort, we risk robbing them of their unique, God-given strengths.
The answer is not to change them, it’s to beat them. With boffer swords. Only moms shouldn’t be the ones delivering the non-violent blows. This is the time when a boy needs his dad (or other strong male role model) to step up to the plate and actively guide his development. Sure, Mom can keep the peace with threats of punishment, but what a boy really needs is a positive outlet for his aggression and the occasional reminder from Dad that he’s still a pup. In animal packs, the Alpha Male asserts his dominance when challenged by the young pups, and while I’m not advocating dads pounding or humiliating their sons, some good-natured physical competition is necessary for boys to test their strength and find out if they have what it takes to be a man. (Please note the smile on my son’s face, below, as he passes his dad on the race track. Yes, my husband took his foot off the gas, but sometimes boys also need a taste of victory.)
Boys need a safe place to test themselves. If we don’t channel a boy’s energy toward appropriate opponents (Dad, sports, martial arts), then we shouldn’t be surprised to find the boy sitting on his sister, just because he can. Much like falling into a vat of toxic waste unleashes power in a superhero (or villain), it’s as if the surge in testosterone awakens a boy to his powers, and either we channel them for good instead of evil, or we ground our boys until they’re 20. Your choice, moms.
There’s nothing wrong with boys who are more physical and daring – I’m thankful for men who risk their lives to rescue us from burning buildings and fight for our freedom and safety. If my son had brothers, they’d be wrestling all the time and it would be no big deal because boys can dish it out and take it. His sister, however, can dish it out, but can’t take it without ending up in tears. It’s not his aggression that’s the problem, it’s his target. The answer? A beat down with a boffer sword. Yes, my husband came to the rescue and restored balance to the Force.
If you’d like to know how to make these inexpensive weapons for safe, epic battles between father and son, here are the instructions, courtesy of my husband. Who rocks.
Basic Boffer Sword Construction
”Boffers” are padded practice weapons for safe and fun fencing. They are inexpensive and easy to construct. Materials include:
- 3/4″ PVC pipe ($1.70 for a 10′ pipe at Home Depot)
- Normal-sized, closed-cell-foam pool noodles (Dollar stores often carry 4′ noodles. Other stores often carry 5′ noodles for $2-3 each.)
- Duct tape (<$4 for a 55yd roll at Home Depot)
From a 10′ PVC pipe and 2-3 pool noodles you can make four 1-handed, short swords suitable for kids and adults as described below (final length 36”), or adjust lengths to get anything from toddler-sized parrying daggers up to daddy-sized 2-handed monsters.
- Slide the blade padding over the end of the PVC core. Work slowly and gently to prevent tearing of the foam. Leave 8″ of PVC extending from the hilt/pommel end and 4″ of foam extending past the PVC at the blade tip end.
- Stuff a 4″ piece of foam into the blade tip to prevent the PVC from pushing through.
- Wrap the blade lengthwise with duct tape, beginning with several inches on the handle, extending up and over the blade tip and back down the opposite side. Repeat with overlapping strips of duct tape, leaving no foam exposed. Do not compress the foam while wrapping. Make every effort to minimize wrinkles; the smoother, the better.
- Slide the pommel padding over the exposed PVC. Work slowly and gently to prevent tearing of the foam. The pommel padding should overlap the PVC by 2″ and leave 2″ of foam extending past the PVC.
- Stuff a 2″ piece of foam into the pommel to prevent the PVC from pushing through.
- Wrap the pommel with duct tape similarly to the blade, with overlapping lengthwise strips.
- Wrap the handle with duct tape to secure the ends of the blade and pommel wrappings.