I’m just a girl, parenting a boy.

Crazy things boys doThat’s him, that’s my son, the one swinging from the loft on a swing made of home-made rope. I read a Facebook post the other day, one in which a mother was concerned about her stepson’s rambunctious playing style.  He’s 5, and she has younger girls.  I understand, I do.  I am the mother of that same boy, only mine is 7 now.  He’s not as rough, he’s growing into himself and into an understanding of boundaries. But at 5….well, he was a little terrorist. The thing is, I was struck by the immense outpouring of comments, aiming to help this mother. Aiming to help this mother, wait for it……change her son.!? Her initial request was help in deciding how to gift this boy with a baby-doll for his 6th birthday without him feeling it was too girly, so that he could have this baby and learn to play gently with it. Immediately the posts came in. However instead of addressing the importantboys will be boys question, like WHY WOULD YOU GIVE A BOY’S BOY A BABY DOLL!!!!  They asked this one, “have you looked into where this rage is coming from?” “could it be his diet?” “could it be a spectrum disorder, or sensory processing disorder?” What? Who said anything about rage? Well, it sure didn’t take long for those labels to come flying in did it? Let’s figure out what’s wrong with this perfectly normal rambunctious 5-year-old boy and put a pin in it! As the mother of a son just like this boy, I immediately had my back up. I almost responded.  I almost shouted “DEAL WITH IT! What’s with the blatant attempt to change this child? “I am going to get him a baby doll for his 6th birthday, and this will teach him how to be gentle.”  Hmmm… what’s wrong with this picture? Let’s take a step-mom, have her buy a 6-year-old a toy he definitely does not want for his birthday, and proceed to explain to him how this will teach him to be gentle. It sounds a little bit like one of those movies where the step-kids are in a war with the step-mom, and someone tricks the mom into buying the doll by saying, he really wants it. Instead he hates her for it and it takes the whole movie to fix that bad decision.” Good luck with that lady. You know what? Boys are hard, and boys are way different from girls.  And as a “girl” parenting a “boy”, that can be pretty darn playing with different textures for sensory processing disorderconfusing, I admit it. But you know what’s even more confusing? A bunch of grown-ups telling you, you have to change your behavior because it doesn’t fit into their “ideal”. Don’t yell, talk quietly.  Don’t jump on the furniture, sit quietly.  Don’t crash all your toys together, play quietly. Hmmmm….sounds like a lot of don’ts to me.  A lot of unrealistic, get you in trouble, make everyone mad don’ts. Don’t it? I myself have experienced first hand how a rambunctious and spirited boy is not always welcome, and you know what I think? I think that’s a bunch of hooey. I think, at least he has a personality, there’s some potential there. OK, I didn’t always think that, but I’ve learned that. I have had to learn that. I’m the mom of a boy. I’m the mom of a rambunctious, fun-loving, thrill seeking, gun-toting, fire setting boy. Now this recipe for disaster is also home-schooled. So at a public school my guess is he would have migrated to the lowest possible common denominator. Either on purpose or because he would have found himself constantly sitting out with those boys, labeled as “trouble-makers”. How’s this for an idea? Join in the fun! Let’s crash cars together! Let’s see who’s car can make it to the bottom of the stairs faster? Let’s go for a walk and collect acorns, then we can go home and smash them with a hammer! How about a bunch of sticks, and then we’ll see who can throw them farther in the yard. Hmmm…. sounds fun, I’ll see you all later. Gonna go smash some things. See Ya!


42 thoughts on “I’m just a girl, parenting a boy.

  1. Wow, a doll, really? When I was a girl I hated dolls. I liked toy horses, but barbies and that always irritated me. I pulled their heads off and painted them with permanent markers. I didn’t end up being a psycho or anything, I’m actually a very sensitive, nice individual. I just abhorred the idea of taking care of creepy fake mini people. Being in a nurturing role was not somewhere my imagination wanted to go.
    Now if I had this reaction as a slightly stubborn little girl, imagine a rambunctious boy’s reaction! I like your suggestion, just roll with your kids playing style. Your kids are who they are.

  2. It’s so important to see our children not purely segregated into genders, but for each individual personality – whether it’s rambunctious, adventurous, introverted, pensive, creative, or whatever.

    Love the photos – they definitely show *your* son’s personality!

  3. I so admire you for sticking up for your son and who he is. If my ten years of teaching taught me anything it’s that there are way more adults – parents, teachers, etc – than I would have ever imagined that don’t understand shit about children. Good for you for doing what you think – what you know! – is best for your son!

  4. I loved those adorable photos. They captured his personality and went perfect with your piece. And you brought up one of the things I’ve come to hate about Facebook, how everyone chimes in with an opinion when they only have a tiny bit of information, but on the other hand people are asking for those opinions. It’s just that it shows me sides of everyone that it’s sometimes better not to see. (At least the election is over!)

  5. My kids are always loud and boisterous — my son is 7 and my daughters are 5, 22 months and 22 months. It is never quiet in my home unless they’re all asleep and I like it that way. Yes, my kids can behave appropriately when it is required, but they can also have fun running around the house in a light saber duel. I’m OK with that.

    Your son looks like wicked awesome fun!

  6. I’ve been thinking about this one all night. It’s troubling to me at a number of levels. I agree that it’s kind of absurd for a new stepparent to think she can magically change a kid’s behaviors by giving him a toy he probably doesn’t want or need. But at the same time, I’m a special needs parent, and I know that it’s hard to describe exactly how out of control even simple things like roughhousing can get. To an outsider, these behaviors SEEM the same as every other kid. When you aren’t dealing with it every day, it’s very easy to assume, “My kid does that, too. There isn’t a problem.” And you’ve got a point. This lady doesn’t know boys, and she’s got no meter for comparison. Also, the other people on facebook aren’t qualified to diagnose her stepson. Nor is she.

    But the words they were using weren’t labels. They were potential diagnoses. And it’s hurtful to call them labels. As much as I agree with your point that it’s not that bright to leap to conclusions based on a single facebook posts, I also shy away from assuming that the kid is just a typically developing boy on that same basis.

    There are dozens of reasons his behaviors might be problematic without their representing either a spectrum issue or a perfectly ‘normal’ situation. He may have figured out, as kids are so good at doing, exactly how to push his stepmother’s buttons. He may be acting out hurt from the remarriage that he, as a five year old, doesn’t have other vocabulary to express. Her frustration might not be as misplaced as it seems.

    • I don’t think you’ve read the rest of my blog. My son has sensory processing disorder. I built this blog originally to help parents who have questions before diagnosis or after.
      My problem with this whole topic was never once did this stepmom say his behavior was abnormal. All she said was she has 2 girls and he is rambunctious.
      Meanwhile all of these people, who don’t know her, are shooting out their diagnosis. I did not mention this was a Facebook page for a large Waldorf group. So no one personally knows each other.
      While I completely respect your point of view, as the mom of a boy who has sensory processing disorder and was mistakingly diagnosed as on the spectrum at a young age, I stand by my post. I do believe it is labeling when you have never met this child and all you have to go on I’d a 3 sentence Facebook post.

  7. Oh, the labeling…Why are we always trying to “fix” our children? They aren’t broken. But our parenting is if we try to turn them into something they’re not.

    P.S. Love the pics. Hysterical! Your son sounds and looks like a super fun kid.

  8. I have two sisters, so I come from a house (and a family) full of girls, so I don’t have a lot of experiences with boys. But what I do know is that my sisters and I may all be girls, but we are three completely different girls, and my parents raised each of us to be exactly as we were (and are), without caring too much about what was “appropriate” for girls. I think it’s so important to let children have their own personalities, and be just what they are, and want to be, without worrying about what is “right.” Love that you are raising your son to be exactly what he is. And love the pictures.

    • Thanks, I totally agree! Sadly I did not have the same experience at home, nor do I have it with my extended family now. Which, of course, is why I feel so vehemently about it!

  9. Great photos! I have rambunctious son too but he’s going on 20. It’s boy and it’s personality. I’ll add that my daughter, while much mellower than her brother, is not nearly as sensitive plus she never liked dolls and was a jock. I don’t believe it’s necessarily all gender and I’m glad you stood up.

  10. Remind me never to piss you off! But seriously, I agree: let boys be boys; and let some girls be tomb boys; and let some boys who DO want a doll have one; and let some girls be girly-pink-and-twirly girls! As Montessori said, follow the child (even if it means smashing acorns with hammers).

    • LOL! That’s about as Vehement as I get Lisa! However, as strong as my opinions may be, I do not judge. I would be lying if I said that this hasn’t been a hard road.

  11. I think you are right. Sometimes kids are rambunctious and while some kids do have legitimate health concerns I think people are way too quick to jump to that. I love this post. 🙂

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

  12. Thank you so much for this! My little boy is 2.5 and is starting to get a bit rambunctious. It seems like he is always on the move, always jumping, crashing, throwing, hitting (not even out of anger). He’s just into everything, but he’s still such a joy. He’s funny, creative, and so imaginative.

    I don’t try to change him, but I do find myself asking him to be gentle and wishing that he would just sit quietly and play! Thank you so much for the reminder to accept him the way he is. I know I’ll miss these rambunctious days when he’s all grown up.

    Thanks for linking up to The Sunday Parenting Party! So glad I found your blog.

    • Thanks so much Amanda! This is one of the first posts I ever wrote where I got a little “bossy”, but I was there when the whole thing started, and with all my friends having girls, it took me awhile to accept it too. In hindsight, I am so glad I did. And you will miss those days, I already do….

  13. Boy, I feel you on the spirited boy and the unfortunate truth that we have seen him be treated as unwelcome sometimes. I agree, too, that at least spirited kids have some personality and vigor and aren’t just bumps on a log! My son would love everything you suggested in that last paragraph!

    My boy has always been rambunctious and always will be. It’s part of his personality, outside of any labels or anything. But what I’m seeing is that for him (not assuming it’s the same for this woman on facebook or anyone else, just talking about our own case here) when we have him off of artificial foods, he’s still rambunctious, but he actually hears me and responds, and can make decisions about doing or not doing things. When he has a diet infraction, oh! It’s all the rambunctiousness I love, plus the meltdowns, plus needing to touch everything and do everything, and moving, moving, moving, no self-control, and on top of it all, its like he can’t even hear me!

    I hope I wouldn’t ever get on a mom about trying to change her son like that, especially not after just a small facebook post about him been being active. But if I ever felt like a friend was having as hard of a go as it with her own child’s reactions as I was before we figured out how to help my son with his diet, I think I would suggest it. I wish I had known sooner. Not to make him any less wild…. I love my wild child. Just having him be able to hear me makes my life so much happier.

    Anyway, sorry for the really long comment. I’m just taking a look around your blog and I think I will really like it here. 🙂

    I’m just trying to imagine why people would have responded that way on facebook. But maybe I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt too much. 🙂

    • I like the really long comment! I’m glad I made you think 🙂 I agree about the food thing, and that suggestion would have made WAY more sense than the others did. Some people are so used to offering their kids junk they don’t realize if they stopped, it might make a difference. It’s one of the first things I wonder about. Yet I still don’t think I would have even mentioned that to a stranger, because THAT’s NOT WHAT SHE ASKED! oops. Didn’t mean to yell, but the whole thing still irks me when I think about it 🙂 I’m glad you made it here!

  14. My son is as wild as they come…and I love him just that way! I get right in it with him (then have him help me clean it all up lol). So many people try to diagnose these kids, especially boys, when they go wild and crazy. Many times, they’re just being boys! As a single mama to a toddler boy, I applaud your courage in letting your son be a boy…I salute you! And shame on that other mama! Great post!

      • Thank you so much, Jen! (blush) I think I’m a good mom, but it’s great to hear that someone thinks I’m an awesome mom. You’re an awesome mom too! Our boys would cause so much beautiful destruction together! 🙂

      • I’d love it! I love to get my son together with other “real boys” and he loves it too. Although outside is preferable because the destruction inside! Whoa!

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