Upon arrival at our favorite park last week, Levi spotted one of his favorite things: the red ride-on speed car, left by some well-meaning neighbor whose kid had outgrown it. There are several of these ride-on toys that now have their home in the basketball court of our park. And as he was imagining himself buzzing down the speedway, he found himself surrounded by not one, but 5 boys, all at least 3 times his size. He realized what was happening and started to back away until I came and let the boys know they needed to wait until he was done.
I remember when Sam was a toddler and I'd take him to the park. He'd be precariously climbing the stairs of the play equipment, using great care while I stood right next to him to catch him if, heaven forbid, he fell the 8 inches to the wood chips below. Then some big 4 or 5 year old would push past us, and try to climb on the handrail Sam was using. I'd think to myself, "jeez, can't they see there are little kids here who can get hurt?! Where are the parents of these crazy, huge kids?"
Now I realize, the crazy, huge kids are the ones who really need some time outside their home, climbing on the park equipment!
The boys who tried to steal Levi's car turned out to be kids from Sam's school, mainly 3rd and 4th graders and a little brother, who had been in Sam's Pre-K class. After I chased them away from Levi, they proceeded into the basketball court and used the other ride-ons for a game of smash-up.
As I watched them, I saw my future pass before my eyes. Boys play hard. Really, really hard. These boys were not being mischievous. In fact, I know them to be really good kids. Sweet, even. But wow, kind of scary, full of testosterone even though they are hardly close to puberty.
Another mom of a 1 year old boy who had also been playing with the ride-ons later said to me, "Man, those boys were crazy!" And I remembered my own past thoughts. And I realize that boys who were older than 3 really used to make me cringe. But now, as I watched these boys, I felt a little proud for all their physicality, and the fact that they were not afraid of running at each other at full speed in puny little plastic cars and smashing them together. I though, Sam would love to do that, too, if he were a little bigger.
Another visit to the same park gave me a different observation. I was nursing Nate on a bench while Sam and Levi played. A little boy I knew was playing nearby with a dump truck, loading it up with wood chips. Suddenly, it seemed as though a light bulb appeared over his head. He stood up, pulled down his pants, and peed into the dump truck. I knew where his dad was (only several feet away), but he was preoccupied with another child, and I was nursing. And I kind of wanted to see how far this would go.
The boy poured the pee down the slide. Then he filled the truck up again. Then he added some wood chips. This continued for several minutes, until the dad turned around and realized what was going on. He rushed the boy off to clean him and the toys up.
I can't say I felt particularly proud, although I do admire something about the scene. I mean, a girl would never in a million years be so creative. (Yet, I'm glad that I don't think that Sam would ever act on such a thought. We'll have to wait and see with the other two). More than that, I got a really good laugh.
So this is a post, not about my kids, but about boys. I am learning about them. And I have to admit, they are not what I expected. But I sure do enjoy having them around.