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After our fifth boy was born we decided that our family was only meant for boys. I often get questions of “Are you going to try for a girl?” to which I reply with a smile “No I’m not.” Although I sometimes think I should be sad, and I would love to have a little girl, life with five boys under the age of nine is lively, wonderful and irreplaceable.
Little boys usually come with 5 superpowers which bring excitement, laughter and sometimes disaster. These are creativity, physical play, building, destroying, and love, and I have plenty of laughable experiences and examples to share.
The other morning it was still dark outside, and I awoke to the feeling that someone was looking at me. As I opened my eyes, my 4 year old was standing at my side dressed in soldier attire, complete with armbands, helmet, and breastplate. He said nothing but stood at attention with a slight smile on his face. I think he was sure that he had me fooled. “Oh, Mr. Soldier have you protected me all night? I asked. To which he responded with a nod then turned in an about face and ran off to conquer some unseen foe — all before 6:00 am.
I love to hear the creativity when my boys play together. They often create portals, fight sharks or pretend they are ninjas. In their view, the world is split into two kinds of people, “good guys” and “bad guys” and the good guys always win. After their adventures, they flock to tell me about what happened and how they won. Their narrative is complete with hand gestures, playbacks and spit-flailing sound effects.
Sometimes they can get too creative for their own good. When the twins were 7 years old, they called me into their room in a panic. When I raced to see what was the matter they were both hiding under their sheets. Still squealing with fear they pointed to a mound of blankets piled on the other side of the room. The blankets were made into a blob with a hat sitting on the top and two squinty paper eyes placed on the front. They had literally created a monster. I chuckled and said “It looks like you made that monster.” One twin in a panicked voice cried out “Yes, but we didn’t know he would look so freaky!”
We use this creativity to our advantage at our home. Instead of the normal set of chores we have command posts with assignments. These include Lord of the Laundry, Boss of the Bathroom, Car Commando, King of the Kitchen, and Floor Fighter. Since these command posts are weekly assignments I address the boys throughout the week according to their command post. For example, I will yell “King of the Kitchen please come upstairs.” The boys love the titles and don’t know that chores can be done any other way.
I love the flare that little boys add to the way that I personally interact with them. Since they were young, I have always tried to sing each of them a lullaby. Night after night they beg for me to come and sing, tuck them in or read them a story. I find that it is often a time when they open up about their day or express their latest troubles before they go to bed.
After years of singing the same songs, I finally ran out. Instead of learning new ones, I now ask them to pick a song and then pick a style. The styles include Swedish chef style, concerned mommy style, zombie style, and our favorite — creepy style. Creepy style usually starts with me at the end of their bed, sneaking closer and closer. It ends with them hiding under their blankets and me pouncing in a final tickle. I end up laughing just as hard as they do.
2. Physical Play
Physical play is definitely an added bonus of little boys. The other day while riding in the car my 4 year old randomly cried out. “I’m more powerful than lava!” He had his chest puffed out and is arms flexed. I couldn’t help but smile. The others barely stopped to glimpse at him because it is so normal. Little boys have so much energy at times that it gives them a sense of power. We often start our family nights with a lesson and a prayer but end with a pileup of laughing boys with Daddy at the bottom.
Sometimes this physical play ends in fighting but even in their fighting they still love each other. Once I heard my twins wrestling unhappily. After I pulled them apart they explained that one had bit the other and it had escalated into a mad wrestle. I made them sit together 15 minutes and talk about what they will do next time they disagree. When I came back to hear their report, I asked them what they decided. One twin said, “Next time he bites me, I will give him a piece of candy.” The other smiled and nodded in agreement. They thought they had come up with the perfect solution.