Sunday, October 22, 2006

What You See is What You Get

One month ago, I began an incentive program to help motivate the boys to make better choices and improve some of their careless behaviors. I am proud to say that Jacob (voted least likely to succeed) was the first to fill his jar with pom-poms and so the first to earn his reward: the toy of his choice. Well done good and faithful servant!

On the way to our favorite high-end toy store, Jacob announced from the back seat of the van that he was going to choose a whistle. "He'll forget about that in the first three seconds we are there," I thought to myself.

Soon, we were in a child's Eden (Hey, now there’s a good name for a new toy store) surrounded by every good and wholesome thing. We looked first at a pirate ship complete with eye-patched pirates, parrots, and a treasure chest. We looked next at a castle defended by beweaponed knights and a fire-breathing dragon. Then we considered a dress-up cowboy costume with a loaded two-holster belt and a five gallon hat. Jacob enjoyed all of these things but, when all was said and done, he insisted on a whistle.

By the cash registers, there were bins of small-item toys and there we found a ninety-nine cent whistle on a string. Jacob was thrilled. Yes, yes, he was certain, this was what he wanted. He had said so, and he hadn't changed his mind. So, we bought the whistle.

I love it. I love everything about it not just that it was easy on my pocketbook though, certainly, that was appreciated. I think what I love most about this story is that it reminds me of what I love most about boys: their simplicity. The classic boy, the boy before commercialism, is the boy with a stick, the boy with a frog, the boy with a sling shot, the boy with a whistle. The desires of a boy's heart are simple and easily satisfied; his sorrows are simple, too, and easily comforted.

A few years back, we were playing at a park and Simeon befriended another little boy about his age. They were tossing a basketball back and forth to one another as they played on the gym equipment. They would roll the ball down the slide or toss it through an opening in a bridge, passing it back and forth in this creative way. At one point, Simeon was high up on the monkey bars and the other boy was below. Simeon tossed the ball without warning, taking the other boy unawares. It hit him square on the head and jolted him. He came crying to his mother who stood beside me. Simeon came down from the monkey bars and followed.

“Simeon,” I said gently but firmly, “You shouldn’t throw a ball to someone unless that person expects it. You hurt this boy and now you need to apologize.” Simeon immediately offered a sincere apology.

“Well, Ok” said the other boy wiping a last tear from his cheek.

And then, “Let’s go play on the slide!” And the two boys ran off faster than they had come.

Another mother, who had been watching, piped up. “Excuse me,” she said, “I just have to say that that was amazing. If that had been my daughter there would have been no end to it. We would have had to go home.”

Now, I did not know this woman's daughter or how she might respond in this situation. What I did know was that what had happened there was typical of boys. One boy offers a sincere apology when he sees he’s done wrong. Another boy takes him at his word and does not hold a grudge. Both boys would rather run and play than dwell on such things. A boy is a boy is boy. When it comes to boys, there is no subtlety or nuance of emotion, nothing complicated or impenetrable. Generally, with boys, what you see is what you get.

And generally, with these here boys, I like what I see.


debbie said...

Enjoy now, wait until puberty!

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Suzanne Temple said...

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Alice said...

>The classic boy, the boy before commercialism, is the >boy with a stick, the boy with a frog, the boy with a >sling shot, the boy with a whistle.

All so very true and engagingly written.

I am a mother of six girls and one little boy--please Suzanne, keep writing! I want to learn all about raising boys!!! : ) : ) : )

Mom of boys said...

That is exactly why I think that God gave me boys - I can take the bumps and the bruises, even all of the energy. I am not sure that I can engage in all of the long drawn out apologies that I have seen little girls require.

Maybe God is saving a girl for later, to teach me patience!

nutmeg said...

DH is always telling me that I am a boy's Mama (no fuss, no bother, just wipe it up and move on) not a girls' Mama (with the whining and moaning and hysterics...augh!)

I need to learn to be a girls' Mama. Since the boys are now outnumbered.


Suzanne Temple said...

Thanks, Alice!!

Mom of boys, I'm sure you would be just as good a mother to girls as you are to boys.

Nutmeg, you can say that because you have girls, but I hope nobody understood this post to be a complaint about girls. I love girls.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

As a mother of both boys and girls, I can say you are right on. Girls are much more complicated, and have their own set of rewardss to go with it, but boys truly are simple. My sons have helped me understand my husband better, as I was ALWAYS putting way more into what he would say, or what he wouldn't say, than he ever intended.

Great post, Suzanne!

LadyHatton said...

Thank you Suzanne, you have put into a nutshell what I love about raising boys. I don't know what I would do if I was raising drama queens!

Suzanne Temple said...

ladyhatton, do you have all boys?

Diane said...

Just read this via Alice's post---Suzanne, this is such a beautiful reflection on little boys! I can see that I need to spend some time catching up on your blog.

And thank you for leaving the kind comment on my blog.

Suzanne Temple said...

Thank you, Diane.

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