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Posts Tagged ‘boys’

I gave birth to two daughters.  I watched them grow and marry and have children and I am here to tell you.  Raising girls is WAYYYY different then raising boys. 

 

I did not give birth to these boys but they lived with me for nine, six and three years before their mother’s second marriage.  Then, I spent an average of three days a week in their home or they in mine.  The oldest, Gaffer, moved in when he was a freshman in high school and he will be twenty-two, in November.  The middle, EMT boy, is nineteen and JRockGuitarMan is sixteen.  These last two have lived with me for the last three years.

 

The big concern for girls seems to be their hair and their butts; and the respective size of each.  Boys: the big concern is more varied.  Shirt sleeves are a big concern.  It is amazing how much time a boy, in Brown County, can take rolling up and down a t-shirt sleeve.  We do, sad to say, live in a rather red-neck county. 

 

I know this because, periodically I have to remind JRockGuitarMan that he does not have a southern accent and that “ya’all” is, in fact, not a word.  Try calling his cell phone and you will think that Randy Travis is answering; with a hint of twang to it.  The boy was born in northwest Indiana and raised in Wyoming, but three years of Brown County takes over.

 

My brother, David VanVleck, was six years older than me.  He read books, listened to music with headphones on and played the clarinet.  He was quiet; unless he was complaining that I was not rinsing the dishes good enough.  This is not the norm with these boys.  They are anything but quiet.  I have stopped sword fights and wrestling in the front room.  If I pull in the drive, and only the boys are home, I can hear the stereo vibrating the neighbor’s windows. 

 

I think that girls are a bit more consistent too.  EMT boy has had his ear pierced three separate times, Gaffer, at least twice.  They decide to let it seal up and then redo it.  Is this some ritual to prove you can endure pain?  Girls are smart enough to do it and keep it.  Why go through that again?  Then, there is the tattoo.  EMT boy designed a fireman tattoo and has had it touched up once.  JRockGuitarMan, who hates needles with a passion, periodically discusses getting a tattoo.  I’m not sure he totally believes how many needle sticks are involved in the process.

 

Then, there is the military.  Gaffer will never let them get their hands on him.  EMT boy dresses military, goes out to Camp Atterbury and challenges them to the obstacle course and wins.  Wins “cool” military posters at school by doing more push-ups than anyone; but until yesterday, he was never entering the military.  I understand this, however, he has found out how much money they will pay him to get his RN.  He does not like debt. 

 

Now, JRockGuitarMan is talking military.  He, like Gaffer, has an aversion to homework and some idiot in Brown County, told him that he could quit school, get his GED and join the military.  He has visions of being Special Forces.  He was informed, yesterday, that if he drops out (in his continuing effort to avoid homework) that he will have to get sixty credit hours at the local college before they will take him.  Opppss!! That did not work out so well for him, now did it?  And, since all the teachers agree that he is a very bright guy, he will be doing his homework. 

 

The best laid plans of mice and young men—

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The other day, our middle boy/grandson/soldier, arrived home from yet another stay at someone else’s house. When you are raising your children’s children, you lose out on some of the progressions of society. It’s much easier to understand a child’s foibles, when you see the progress in the world, and you were a teenager in just the last generation; not the one before.

Suddenly, okay not so suddenly, but I’m still amazed, we are immersed in the age of the teenager, again; this time in the age of the boy teenager. Last time I knew teenagers, it was girls, and girls had sleepovers and boys would not be caught dead at one, unless it was a girl’s sleepover and they were able to harass the girls. Now, guys spend the night at one another’s houses. I fully suspect it has something to do with doing things that you can’t get away with at home, but I’m not sure.

Friends come here too, for the night. Perhaps it is just the age of the PS2/XBox, where they sit up all night, drink pop from liters and see who can dominate the world first.

Anyway, Middle brother and oldest brother, were picked up late from work. Middle son walks in the house in full camouflage, Well, not full – he had not painted his face. While I do not care for his head shaved close, it sure beats the Mohawk he was sporting last month. I reminded him all last month, that he is a pasty white kid, with a pasty very white bald head on each side of a died black Mohawk; unlike his friends who gave it to him at 4am, who are Native American.  I personally like it about an inch and a half long and spiked up, but it’s his head and, as I told myself all last month, it will grow out–Please grow out.

He really likes military clothing and weapons. I asked if he was getting ready to enlist. I do have one grandson who is in the Army. Middle son seemed a bit offended that I did not recognize his uniform as Viet Nam War era wear. Is it the color? He was in green and perhaps Iraq fighting is the tans. Personally, I have not seen a big fashion statement growth in military uniforms, but then again, I don’t follow that too closely.

Whatever the case, he insists he has no interest in the military; although he has been seen out at Camp Atterbury showing up military personnel in feats of endurance and strength. He also outdid everyone, in the school gym, for a push-up challenge to win a “cool” Army poster. And, he wonders why they keep calling him to talk about joining?

Middle boy plans on being an RN. He likes the excitement of Emergency Room work.  I wonder if they make scrubs in army camouflage.

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There is an Obsessive Compulsive gene in our family. My mother’s brother once refused to visit her house for three years because the minute he flicked an ash in the ashtray, she would jump up from the card table and wash it; the ash tray not the ash. Since she had given him the ashtray at his place at the table, he mistakenly presumed she meant for him to use it.

 

Mom is good natured about her foible and we have all learned to live with it. If I ever write about my life, I have threatened to title it: My Life in a Ziploc, for I am certain I was born in one. She could not have dealt with the mess otherwise and has worked hard to ensure that everything she owns is wrapped and bagged, preferably in ZipLocs. She alone may be responsible for the success of the company.

 

What happens with children of Obsessive’s? They turn out to be, well, Not-Obsessive. I would rather paint a picture or be outside taking photographs than cleaning stoves and corners. Somehow, I have decided that, since I could not afford a self-cleaning oven, I will just give it away when the dirt creeps under the aluminum foil. Presuming I have sold a book by then. Ah, another thing to spur my novel on.

 

I do have an excuse; my husband has been disabled with COPD for nearly twenty-five years now. We live in a pollution free (note, I did not say dirt free) atmosphere. No smoke, no perfumes (I use Vanilla upon occasion-sounds weird, but what greater scent to evoke love than Mom’s home cooking?), no scented cleaners or shampoos, etc, and certainly no oven cleaner. It’s my legitimate excuse. I am also quite sure this was a big reason why my mother moved into her own apartment. She was in withdrawal for the scent of Lemon Pledge and hairspray.

 

My husband smoked for about a month, until cigarettes hit 25 cents  pack, but his family has “weak” lungs. He was under thirty when we were hiking out east and contracted a virus. It never left him, and damaged his lungs. He is 56 now and he looks 90. Children think he is Santa with his white hair and white beard, and often point at him through their car seat window when we drive past.

 

Once, during a high school concert, a family of six children was sitting in front of us. One little girl kept turning around and looking at my husband, until the end of the concert, when she stage whispered to her dad. “Daddy, did you know Santa was sitting behind us?” Then, there was the little boy who came up to him in a store and thanked him for the presents he (the child)had received last year.

 

My husband’s chubby cheeks have taken on a sunken look in the past year and, when we go to a restaurant, they give him a seat next to mom and a senior discount. There are perks.

 

What happens to the grandchild of an Obsessive? Since the gene skipped my generation, they may be obsessive too. I have a granddaughter who is “my girl.” Other children cling to their brothers or their grandfather, but this girl took one look at me, when she was three months old and decided I belonged to her. The look was pure adoration. It is so nice to be adored by someone. However, this poor thing has inherited the Obsessive gene.

 

At two, with a baby sister ensconced in her room, Rachel would wait until sister, Leah, finished her bottle, then she would get up and bring the bottle down to someone to, either: 1. Get it out of her room and/or 2. Have it cleaned. Her brothers used to torment her by rearranging the Christmas presents under the tree as she took her nap.

 

Occasionally, I have caught myself doing things that frighten me; counting steps, color coding clothing and coat hangers. I stop, mix them up and don’t look back. I do not want to even go there. Perhaps that is why I don’t want to spend time cleaning, because I love a clean house. I really do. But, what would happen to me if I started cleaning. I might not know when to stop? Do you buy that??? If so, see me about some property.

 

I do like my studio straightened up before every new project and I loved having a clean house when I had a house large enough to do that. I seem unable to keep this small one, with six adults, clean. There just isn’t enough closet/storage area and things spill out and about. When the table gets too piled, I make the boys put there things away. It looks nice for a day. I do NOT pile things on the table myself, I have a dresser for that, which has a printer on it and two years worth of filing and paperwork.

 

Told you I did not inherit the obsessive gene and one day the boys will move out and there will be room to keep things clean. Darn! I will miss them.

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