Archive for the 'boys boys boys' Category

01
Oct
11

chatty cathy vs. chatty johnny

As I was researching language acquisition for the last post I did, I found a lot of research on language usage and the subsequent amount of it. Blah. Blah. Blah. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Except. Except… in every single one of the studies I skimmed the scientists were showing that females talked more than males. Girls talked more than boys. Pretty much all the scientific studies showed the same thing: girls spoke earlier, more and had a bigger vocabulary. Except…

Um. No. Clearly these scientists and researchers have never met my children. My male children. All three of them talked early, often and with huge vocabularies, including words like “appeared” and “actually” (pronounced oxually). When big was not so big he never stopped talking, his entire life was a running dialouge. I say dialogue becuase no matter what came out of his mouth I was expected to respond and if I didn’t the conversation took on an urgent tone that I was forced to notice.

Big at 3: Vrooom. Vroom. The car is driving up into the parking garage to park on the top floor. [driving car around as described]

Mom: [silence because honestly I don’t know what kind of response is called for.]

Big: MOM! THE CAR IS DRIVING UP INTO THE PARKING GARAGE TO PARK ON THE TOP FLOOR!!!!!!!

Mom: OKAY! SUPER!

Every single waking moment of every single day I was expected to participate in conversationally; the boy performed no monologues. My brain was over-stimulated and it was the sort of thing that would make a mommy a little cranky. I perfected the least interested response I could. When I was pregnant with Middle and laying on the couch in the clutches of mid-afternoon sickness and Big was desperately trying to include me in a conversation about trains; I came up with this cheat sheet for the direst of times.

first response: Hmmm.

second: hMMmmm.

third: hmmmmMMM.

fourth: hmmmmm?

fifth: hmmmmm!!!

Repeat.

speak no evil, speak a little evil and speak much evil and by evil I mean mostly potty talk.

So of course I would go on to bear two more children who would grace the good earth with their voices that tinkle like bells ALL THE TIME. I was feeling guilty; like shouldn’t I want to be constantly engaged in unstimulating conversation with little people? I asked my therapist if I was secretly totally evil. She said, no. We had a nice dialogue about it. She said the human brain isn’t meant to be stimulated ALL THE TIME. I should tell him that for five minutes I was going to turn my brain off and he could talk, but I wasn’t going to listen. If he wanted someone to listen he should find someone else to talk to, like say his baby brother or his teddy bear. It took him about a week to stop talking to me and expecting a response, but it was damn nice not to be expected to remember where I was in the “hmmm” cycle.

So all these studies are saying that boys talk less than girls and they have evidence and shit and I say, “whatever” because I don’t see it. So I want to know what they think the reasons are, so I know if my boys are freaks of nature and possibly huge moneymakers some day. In The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre she talks about how two separate studies found evidence that pointed in two opposite directions. Super, science, just super.

In the first study researchers decided after following around 22 educated, middle-class mothers of toddlers, both boys and girls about the same age for a few hours every month and tape every word they said, that the moms used the same amount of words with boys and girls, but boys spoke less and used fewer words. They believed that there was something intrinsic that made the boys less verbal (pp. 65-66). However, in a completely different study across more diverse racial and socioeconomic lines showed that the number of words a parent speaks to a child is directly related to the size of the child’s vocabulary regardless of gender. So that means that if you have a very active boy who wants to be outside running around, throwing balls and stuff, you might not choose to take them to the story hour at the library or sit down and read books to them. If you’re doing what they are interested in, or what is easier to do with them, then maybe there’s less language involved.

Now that makes sense. They spend a hell of a lot of time with me and I am a world champion talker. The kind of person that loves to talk. The person that volunteers to get up in front of people and talk. I can’t get enough of it. “Listen to me world!” Maybe because no one listens to me at home. Naw, I’ve always been that way; in theater, forensics (not the CSI kind). LOOOOOVE the stage. My childhood report cards always said, quarter after quarter and year after year, “Becki’s a great student, but she needs to spend less time talking.”

I talked so much that my fourth grade teacher tied me into my desk with crepe paper so I wouldn’t walk around the room and talk to people. If we would have known then what we know now about suing for pain and suffering…

So the boys have a great role model, if they’d let me get a word in edgewise. Also, I’m not so much into the running around outside and the ball-throwing. I was always reading to Big and dragging him to story hours and anything else that involved me sitting on my ass. It’s gotten harder with Middle and Little because they seem to be more active types. And don’t go around thinking I’ve ruined Big and he’s like a big blob on the couch; he’s a white belt in Tai Kwon Do, but he’s going places.

I know that someday I’m going to miss all these little voices around me. They may be surly teenagers and I’ll have to beg them to talk to me. I videotaped Little yesterday telling me the names of all the Star Wars guys that he knew because it’s just too precious to hear your three-year old recite the members of the Dark Side. That’s not all he says, he says I love you mommy about twenty times a day, but I never have the camera ready for that. That, I’ll never forget.

18
Sep
11

the problem with other

Below is a post that I wrote at my old blog a couple of years ago when I had become particularly annoyed with the lack of understanding on the part of big and middle in the area of language, specifically one single word. Now that I’m all like scientific and shit, I thought I’d revisit this annoyance and see if maybe, just maybe they weren’t really trying to drive me crazy, but were just using their male brains (you know, the only ones they have).

[side note: old blog called The Wiener Mom so all sons were called wieners… you’ll put it together, I know you will]

so glad I'm your mOTHER Big; you've grown so much!

Dear wieners (specifically mine, but all are welcome),

I have come before you today to address a crucial issue in the success of Wiener Mom/little wiener relationships. The future of my goodwill and your continued survival depend upon it.
My dear wieners, we must discuss the meaning of the word “other”. What it means is not that one, i.e. not that hand, the OTHER one or not that foot, the OTHER ONE. When a person has two of something (hands or feet primarily) and the Wiener Mom says “not that one, the other one” she does not mean the SAME ONE, she means the OTHER ONE.

What confuses the otherwise intelligent and capable mind of the Wiener Mom, is how a relatively small wiener can correctly use words like, ACTUALLY, and USUALLY, and even REAPPEARING, but he can not give the Wiener Mom THE OTHER FOOT, even after repeated pointing and wild gesturing, as well as overly clear annunciation, “No, the OTH-ER one.”

Perhaps this is a phenomenon witnessed only in Wiener World, and both wieners and non-wieners in the outside world have a strong grasp of the OTHER one. If so, please give the Wiener Mom your apparently successful strategies before she pulls her hair out. No, the other one.

Love and kisses, The Wiener Mom

Back when I wrote that OTHER blog

So I go through all my boy books and can’t find anything on language processing; a lot on talking (which is a whole OTHER blog post altogether). So I have to turn to the World Wide Webs, which I really hate to do because, really who can you trust, there’s so many so-called experts out there blogging about who knows what. I google it and find a lot of scientific articles and papers and abstracts and there are a lot of numbers and %s and #s and &s and other symbols that start to look kind of math-like so I turn to

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303120346.htm

Science Daily: My source for the latest in Research News to find the answer to this brain buster:

Seems like just the OTHER day

Do boys process language differently than girls?

short answer: yup.

long answer: Boys’ language processing tends to be more sensory and girls’ processing more abstract. So I guess if you think about it, the word OTHER is pretty abstract. It’s not a car or a light saber or a brother or even a wiener. It’s other.

But why, you ask? The researcher from Northwestern thinks that boys may have “some kind of bottleneck in their sensory processes that can hold up visual or auditory information and keep it from being fed into the language areas of the brain.” Which he says may be a result of girls developing faster than boys and may be gone by adulthood, which explains why when I put the Mister’s shoes on, he totally understands the word OTHER. This would also explain why all my pointing and mad gesturing isn’t helping anything; it’s just all getting trapped in  like a traffic jam of sensory information, which for some reason I imagine actually taking place in his neck.

The researcher says that another explanation for why the study showed that boys aren’t as adept at processing abstract language is that they may create visual and auditory associations with a word and it would be kind of hard to create a visual or auditory association with the word OTHER unless it’s your mother pulling her hair out and gesturing to your shoe or screaming “OTH-ER”.

Two years after I wrote that post Big has figured out the meaning of the word OTHER about 94.6% of the time, but now I’ve got Middle and Little to gesture wildly to. Maybe now that I know that they’re not trying to annoy me or ignore me, I could tone down the gesturing and the exasperated sighing. Only for “OTHER” though.

I hold no promises when it comes to “COME HERE. NO I SAID COME HERE. HERE. NO HERE. NEXT TO ME. NO HERE.”

03
May
11

a mother’s prayer for her sons [in the style of tina fey]

Recently the fabulous Ms. Tina Fey wrote a book, you may have heard. On the cover she has giant hairy man arms… but inside she includes a prayer for her daughter. It was funny, but somewhat inapplicable to those of us with boys. I’ve been sitting on this one and have finally come up with the perfect non-denominational prayer for my sons.

[heads up: this will be more funny than religious, if you’re not into it, turn away now, but thanks for visiting! Catch you next time!]

A prayer by a mother for her sons:

  • First God/Goddess, about the tattoos that Tina was so against. Please advise my boys against any facial tattoos, any tattoos featuring wolves, eagles, topless Betty Boops, any sort of Tweety Bird (dressed or not), curse words in English or any language your mother speaks and please no tattoos that make use of the bellybutton to represent any part of the female form.
  • Please, when he’s a teenager, let the only pornography that he finds be the foundations section of the JC Penney catalog. Oh, they don’t print those any more? All the better, 1987!
  • Related to the above, may he learn to do his own laundry long before he discovers the foundations section of the JC Penney catalog.
  • May the girls he brings home not work in the following industries: celebrity body-waxing, pole-dancing or deep-frying. Unless, they’re working their way through medical school and then we’ll revisit.
  • If he should bring home any boys, we’ll welcome them with open arms, but still require that they not body-wax, pole-dance or deep-fry.
  • May he accept at an early age that the only vehicle he will be driving away from this house is a 2008 Honda Odyssey mini-van. Unless, of course, he starts saving now to buy the car of his dreams, but unless it’s made of legos, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
  • Please let him know that just because Mommy is watching the soccer game in the rain from the car doesn’t mean she’s not cheering just as loud as everyone else. She promises to put the window down if you make a goal.
  • When he becomes president or first spouse (Can I get a whoop-whoop?) may he think twice before propositioning anyone but his wife. That shit never ends up anywhere good.
  • Please remind him constantly that just because Mommy isn’t hanging out behind the pharmacy with him and his buddies, doesn’t mean she can’t see him considering that joint. She sees everything. EVERYTHING.
  • When he gets his own place, please God before the age of 22, and cooks his first dinner of overdone ramen noodles, overdone mac and cheese or cold spaghetti o’s out of the can, let him pause in reflection of the thousands upon thousands of meals that his mother cooked him that were not in fact overdone ramen noodles, overdone mac and cheese or cold spaghetti o’s. Let this pause be long, Lord, long enough for him to realize that she really wasn’t trying to poison him all those years ago with vegetables. Let him also realize that she may not have actually been the “worst cook in the world”, but may be actually in the top 50%.
  • Please dear God, let him know intrinsically that if his mother should ever find out that he wrote the word b*tch or c*nt on the windshield of a female classmate in the freshly fallen snow; his time on this earth, enjoying the 2008 Odyssey and the JC Penney’s foundations section, will be very, incredibly, limited.
  • In conclusion: Lord, please let him know that whatever choices he makes (outside of the above mentioned no-no’s) his mother will support him the best she can. She will protect him from evil boys who bully and tease and evil girls who just plain tease. As he grows up and can’t wait to get the hell out of here, let him know that he will always be welcome in his mother’s house. She may not volunteer to do his laundry, but may be willing to cook something not overdone or directly out of the can, if he asks nicely. In other words, please let him know that wherever he is and whatever he is doing, he is still his mother’s boy and always will be. And also, she can see EVERYTHING.
  • And of course, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THEM.

    May the road be smooth and free of mailbox like obstacles, especially when you’re driving the 2008 Odyssey.
26
Apr
11

why daddy field trips just might be more fun than mommy field trips (a photo essay)

maybe you’re a super fun mommy, maybe you go further than the Children’s Museum and the Zoo. Maybe you don’t consider Target a field trip at all. I used to be like that too. Before I had three small children to keep track of. It gets a lot harder when one will die if he doesn’t spend at least 30 minutes looking at the fish, one could give a rat’s ass about fish and one just pooped in his pants. So I bring you…

the top ten reasons that Daddy field trips just might be more fun than mommy field trips

10. there are bugs and sometimes you bring them home. There are also partially decomposing skunk skulls and sometimes you bring those home too.

9. you can stomp around in the water or mud or whatever, no matter how appropriately you may be dressed.

8. rushing water, slippery rocks, no adult close enough to help a boy who might go under. In other words, complete independence and thrills galore!

7. many opportunities for role play!

6. Dress code requirements are extremely lax. Wear your pajamas all day? Sure! No shoes in a parking lot area where there are HUGE VEHICLES? No problem; just don't step on anything.

5. safe things to climb on!

4. lots of opportunities for kill based play! parents at the children's museum not so hip to that.

3. See that little sign in the background? Bet you can guess what it says. Doesn't apply to them because the daddies didn't see it until they were ON TOP of the tank.

2. The daddies are having just as much fun as the boys.

and the number one reason that daddy field trips are more fun than mommy field trips…

this...

and this...


20
Apr
11

a mom among men Easter Edition: WRESTLEMANIA SPRING 2011!!!!

Punch this bag just like you punch daddy in the nuts!

Are you ready to rumble? Because, me not so much. The boys? The daddy? Oh yes. Most nights in our house somewhere between daddy coming home and books and snack before bed, some sort of daddy sanctioned wrestlemania commences on the living room floor. The coffee table is moved out of the way, and all the toys are picked up (it’s a great way to get them to pick up their stuff). For approximately 10-25 minutes the four of them have it out on the floor, on the couch, on the arm-chair. What do I do? I leave the room as early as possible and shut the door, trying my damnedest to drown out the screams and thuds. Why? BECAUSE I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT.

When my sister and I were children we created a game called “Make a Fight”. Below is a list of the rules of “Make a Fight”.

NO pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching, biting, punching, slapping, hair pulling, or stepping on.

What could you do when you played “Make a Fight”? Basically just bump into each other with our hands down at our sides, so as not to accidentally break one of the above stated rules (which were reviewed every time one of us asked, “Wanna Make a Fight?”)  This was all the violence we could handle. Now, I do know of sisters that were/are a lot more physically aggressive than we were, but our lack of aggressive play is what makes it so hard for me to get.

Below is a list of the rules for Living Room Wrestlemania:

If you draw blood or heaving sobs you must pause until the injured has been inspected, then you may resume.

Once again, I know that not all boys play like this, but mine do and no offense, they’re the ones I’m most interested in. Mostly because if there is blood, I deal with it.

Picture this without the costumes and body hair (yes, even daddy).

So, needless to say, Wrestlemania is a little much for me. There have been a few times when Daddy has been unavailable I thought I’d give it a go, just to try to fit in, ya know. When in the roman coliseum… This is what I found out: IT HURTS. No one is pulling punches, no one is being gentle, no one is keeping their hands at their sides and just sort of bumping into each other. This is all out war. THEY HURT ME. I have a rule about things that hurt me (volleyball, handball, hitting a soccer ball with my head, etc.) I don’t do them.

My parents came for dinner tonight; the ones that raised two girls. They were slightly shocked at the level of violence our living room is home to. They looked at me more than a few times, like “can you believe this?” Yes, I can, but only because I live with it. I wanted to give them some reasons that this was okay.

So that leads us to the question of the week, actually the all caps statement of the week: WRESTLEMANIA SPRING 2011 (why?)

I started looking for something specific I knew I had read. What I ended up finding were two different pieces of information concerning WRESTLEMANIAS.

Or like this, but without the cage, the audience and the pecs (yes, even daddy).

1. In Leonard Sax’s book Why Gender Matters he talks about research on this topic (the gender difference in aggressive play) done on apes and monkeys (pp. 60-62). There’s a whole lot of scientific yada-yada, but this is my summary: Even in other primates, besides the primates related to me, males engage in more aggressive play than females. This is the most interesting piece; science (like all of it) I guess believes that when you find a behavior across a variety of species, it probably is there for a reason. He gives a variety of reasons, most involving killing smaller monkeys for food: an activity that Wrestlemania has yet to include. AND… it provides a safe and appropriate outlet for aggression.

2. In Louann Brizendine’s book The Male Brain the talks about the benefits of play time with daddy (pp 88-89). All this rough and tumble and kicking in the nuts actually is good for them. I don’t know if daddy would agree about the nuts part, but shouldn’t he like buck up or wear a cup? A research study in Germany followed a group of boys over fifteen years and found that the boys who had engaged in rough and tumble play with their dads had higher self-confidence in adolescence than those who didn’t.

Or this, but without the body weight and the diaper; well just one diaper (NOT daddy).

So… This means that the Wrestlemanias continue and I disappear into my office and read PerezHilton.com or spend way too much time on Facebook. When they’re done kicking each other in the nuts and becoming more self-confident I collect them, dust them off and give them a kiss. Hopefully that’s helping too.

11
Apr
11

why do my boys think they’re the bomb?

a punching bag on the front porch= my entire house is a man cave

I mean they totally are of course, but they’re so damn sure of it. Where does that amazingly high self-esteem come from?

There are few things in this sometimes ugly world that I like more than a self-satisfied toddler. You know when they figure something out for the first time or discover something new; they get this look, like “yea, I got.” I LOVE that. They’re strutting all around with their drunk toddler walking and their baggy butts, probably got food on their face or green snot coming out of their nose, but there is no damn way that you could tell them that they weren’t the hottest thing since facebook. LOVE it.

The self-satisfied toddler turns into the superhuman preschooler. “Hey honey, I don’t think you should get that close to the edge of the Grand Canyon; you might fall!”

“No mom, it’s cool. I won’t fall.”

I have tried countless times to argue with one of my boys about personal safety. It’s a moot point to them. They are protected by the impenetrable bubble of self esteem. It’s a ridiculous argument.

“Please don’t run with scissor pointing up towards your eye.”

“It’s okay mom.”

“No, really it’s not.”

“No mom, it’s okay, there is no way that I’m poking my eye out. I’m just like above all that.”

“No, there actually is a big #$#@ing way you’re poking your eye out… because you just did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

So the superhuman preschooler turns into the greatest jedi in the history of elementary school. You can not tell Big that he is not an actual jedi with the personal capability to destroy the sith with one hand tied behind his back. He just knows it. There’s no discussion, he just is a jedi. Not just any jedi either. He’s the best.

do not go there, just do not.

I do not remember having this level of self-assuredness, and if I did it was gone by the time I was like 11. So I started wondering, is there a gender difference in self esteem? Does the fact that my boys know they’re awesome come from a general interest in risk-taking (thus the indifference to safety hazards like huge canyons and very pointy metal objects)? Does the fact that they already know they’re way stronger in the force than anyone else in the family come from a great imagination?

So that leads me to the question of the week…

why do my boys think they’re the bomb?

This one turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be to find information on. I have this vague inkling that sometime I read something about this topic in some book and thought… mmmm interesting, where’s the ice cream? For the life of me I couldn’t find it. So, I turned to the wide world of the web and after reading many insanely boring abstracts from research studies that invovled a lot of words and number type dealies I didn’t understand, I found a science blog from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There I found written in plain english (go badgers) the results of a study of over 150,000 participants. The study looked at this very question only it was worded way more scientifically (I don’t think they used the term “the bomb”).

The results? They found no measurable difference in self-esteem between college age men and women. Hmmmm. Interesting. Given that I only have boys, I have no girl offspring to compare them too? Is this just totally normal for the toddler to school age set? Anyone out there with girls and boys notice a difference? Anyone out there at all?

just 'cause the muscles are fake, don't mean the attitude ain't real

06
Mar
11

a mom among men relaunch

It’s time for something different. After a hiatus filled with self-doubt, depression and countless bowls of ice cream, I’m back. It’s a new day for a mom among men. I decided I need a focus, a point. So, I thought… and thought… and a little more (and more ice cream).

This is what I’ve come to. I love my men. I do, but that doesn’t mean I understand them. They continue to be a daily mystery to me. All four of them. Maybe the dog is confused by them too, she hasn’t said. It’s very strange being the one who’s different. The one who thinks differently, acts differently, doesn’t like to wrestle and doesn’t think the word “poop” is all that funny. I’m a stranger in my own home!

I’ve spent a great deal of my free reading time this past year reading about boys and men. In hopes that the mystery would be solved. I have come closer to seeing how they work, but like the pot of chocolate peanut butter ice cream at the end of the rainbow, it’s always just out of my reach. So, that’s it. This year I set out to answer the questions I have about men and boys (who are we kidding, they’re all boys sometimes). I know, it’s March. I’m a late bloomer.

I’ve decided to use science, psychology, and humor to try to figure out my boys. Along the way maybe I’ll help you figure out yours too. I’ll be using books, the interwebs and my own experience (that’s the humor part). This isn’t exactly a dissertation on the Biological and Social Aspects of the Male Human, so cut me some slack. I’m trying to have fun, not win a nobel prize. Please ask questions, leave comments, tell me I’m dead wrong or (hopefully) so, so right.

So time to meet the family.

So this is me. A mother of 3 boys aged 8, 5, and 3 and one husband, age 34. I used to be a kindergarten teacher and then a freelance educational consultant. I wrote a book.

The mister. Loving husband and doting daddy. Willing to participate in nightly Wrestle-manias. Currently obsessed with trout. Every Saturday morning he walks to the coffee shop down the street and brings home donuts.

big. 8.5 years old. Reluctant 3rd grader. Lover of all things Garfield and Star Wars. Master of creating paper weapons.

middle. 5.5 years old. mr. perfect at school. mr. potty talk at home. Devotee of the Sith, jibberish and junk food.

little. newly 3. lover of preschool. Passionate about light saber duels, CandyLand, and kisses

the dog. 11 years young. Indeterminate heritage. Enjoys long walks, napping on my pillow and flirting with humans. When I'm not trying to figure out the boys, I'm trying to figure her out.

So that’s us in a very large nut shell. Although I’m allergic to nuts, so I’d prefer like a really big, hollow chocolate rabbit.




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what’s done is done