We didn’t find out the gender of our first baby before he was born. I just assumed it’d be a girl — I was a girl, all my cousins are girls, I am very good at French braids. To me, there were lots of reasons not to find out what we were having. I was never going to have a super gender-specific nursery and besides, it was just fun to guess and hear people’s guesses. In retrospect, there was a small part of me that didn’t want to know if I was carrying a different set of “parts,” if you catch my drift. It’s not that I didn’t want to have a boy, it’s that I felt scared to. That was until I was reminded that I watched, played, and appreciated sports and had a bunch of male friends. On paper I thought was equipped, and then I had a boy, and then another.
I could have never known how different it would be than I had expected, from the whole “boys will be boys” thing, to the different treatment young boys get from adult men and women, to the puzzling things all boys seem to do. My youngest child has been “shooting” stuff since before he could walk, and will walk up to his brother, grab him around the middle and throw him to the ground, out of love. My oldest will laugh at any word remotely related to the bathroom and knows every Pokémon card he has ever seen but can’t remember to put the seat down. Neither of them can easily sit through dinner without at least half of their body off the seat and that wiggling definitely extends to time in the classroom.
When my oldest son started preschool, the difference between what was my school experience and what would be his, became glaringly obvious. In fact, even though I hear, “That’s your kid” about him from my husband a lot, I have absolutely struggled to understand him, and then his brother, and I’ve watched others do the same. So it’s no surprise to me that the The Gurian Institute reports that boys make up 80 percent of school discipline referrals, are four-and-a-half times more likely to be expelled from preschool, account for 80 percent of the children in school who are on Ritalin, and receive two-thirds of the D’s and F’s on school report cards.
Now, with two boys in school, those numbers aren’t shocking to me at all. It is also why I am excited to be able to attend the Helping Boys Thrive Summit coming to the Edmonds Center For The Arts. The summit, on Saturday, May 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will “help explain the science behind boys’ behavior and provide the tools that parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and counselors can use to improve their understanding and techniques while nurturing young boys,” according to publicity materials. In fact, there are CEU credits available for counselors and therapists, and clock hour credits for educators in the state of Washington.
The summit promises to cover questions like: Why are boys falling behind in so many aspects of life, including school? What do boys specifically need from moms and dads as they develop? What do boys need from grandparents and other mentors? And, what is normal development of a boy from infancy to college age?
Speakers will include: Kevin and Beverly Sherman, parents of Super Bowl Champion Seahawk Richard Sherman; Dr. Gregg Jantz from The Center, A Place of Hope in Edmonds, and Michael Gurian, New York Times bestselling author of “The Wonder of Boys.” While the speakers will be giving addresses in the morning, there will be a moderated Q&A in the afternoon. I feel pretty grateful to being able to ask this panel, “Is this normal?” and be able to do it so close to home.
For information and tickets, you can visit www.helpingboysthriveseattle.com.
I don’t always understand why my guys are doing the things they do and knowing what they need doesn’t always come easily for me. I have had to seek out help and in return I have gotten some great advice and resources from friends, teachers and the boys’ pediatrician. Their doctor recommended a book by Michael Thompson called, “It’s a Boy! Your Son’s Development from Birth to Age 18.” I actually have it out from the library right now. It explains what you can expect, developmentally, with each age. She also recommended another book by this author called, “Raising Cain: Protecting The Emotional Life of Boys.” To be fair I didn’t read this one BUT I did watch the PBS special, which is easily found online.
My oldest son’s kindergarten teacher, a man himself, didn’t judge the boys for their energy and his first-grade teacher let him stand when he wanted to do his work but couldn’t stay still. Now, in second grade, he doesn’t think he’s a trouble kid and is still building tools for when he’s antsy. T
he best advice I got was from a male friend of mine with brothers of his own. I asked him when my boys would stop doing some of the things they do that I just don’t get. He told me that they would never stop, but instead, learn when those things were OK to do. It was good to hear that while there was no stopping the toilet humor or wrestling, eventually they will figure out that neither is right for the dinner table.
— By Jennifer Marx
Jen Marx, an Edmonds Mom of two young boys, is a traffic reporter by dawn and writer and PBJ maker by day. She is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can contact Jen with your local event at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her trying to make sense of begging kids to ” just eat the mac n cheese” at SnackMomSyndrome.com. If you have a kid-friendly event you’d like to share, email her at email@example.com.