Thursday, September 20, 2007

Raising Men.

The other day in the street, my Ben was on his bike and he rides up to little Benjamin Zayac (3) and starts tapping the front tire of his own two wheel bike (with no training wheels by the way!!) into little Benjamin's big wheel (Kettcar..for those of you that were there). And little Benjamin says "No Ben...don't do that!"...and my Ben continues to hit his own bike into the front tire of the bigwheel... Then little Benjamin says "STOP IT BEN."....and my Ben smirks and continues.

Now keep in one is hurting anyone...little Benjamin is just annoyed at the fact that his friend is taunting him...acting like the tough bully...and enjoying the screams and cries of frustration that are based simply on the fact that BEN WON'T KNOCK IT OFF! Benjamin...I would have cried too!!!

So of the "wonderful" mother than I am....I yell...BEN KNOCK IT OFF!! As loud as I can...and believe it or not...even though I used my best stern mom voice...BEN JUST KEPT TAUNTING BENJAMIN!

And then...good mom gets thrown to the wind...I yell at Ben...send him inside for an indefinite time out and that is that! I was embarrassed that my kid would be such a devil and sad that it was MY kid that now has little Benjamin Zayac in full tears! Not a proud parent moment.

At this point I turn to Steve...who has come out of the garage to see what all the yelling and crying etc. etc. is all about and I tell him what happened. Of course I am looking for some sympathy for my embarrassment here. Some sign that he was disappointed in his sons actions just as I was. And instead he laughs and says, "Almost not fair that boys have to be raised by women!"

Erica and I just looked at him like - what the heck are you talking about??!!??

He proceed to explain to us what his version of being a boy/man is. In Steve's mind - Boys rouse each other as an expression of masculinity. He claims that it starts as a kid and never stops. Boys pick on each other and taunt and joke each other and you can be one of two kinds of boys...the kind that join in and therefore "fit" in or the ones that run to mommy and then well...we know what happens to those guys! He said that even in his office life soon as he walks in - one of the guy is "ripping" on him about something. And so you just "rip" back...And as if he has told us something as obvious as "the sky is blue" he says "That's just the way it is...just must start at age 5!"

Now Erica and I both kind of paused before we spoke, because we would be lying to say that this didn't make a small bit of sense to us. I mean...we have been to college and lived with and around men all of our lives and we can certainly attest to the fact that guys will be guys and they are kind of rough at any age and always seem to be joking or egging on someone etc. etc. But let's also be honest in that ...these two boys in the street are not the "men we have known" in our lives...they are OUR KIDS! And weather I am making my kid a wimp or not...he WILL NOT be the bully that taunts other kids in front of his mother!

Steve agreed that I had no choice but to punish Ben...but he was very certain that it will not stop the behavior...He claims that Ben will simply get smart enough not to do it in front of us. I certainly hope that is not the case...but Steve may have a point and that is just so sad.

Anyway...all of this made me look up opinions, and educational readings etc. on raising boys.

I found a truly wonderful gathering of information at

At the bottom of every article there is a link to another area of information - all about the fight for boys to become men.

One paragraph states: "Boys act out to prove they've passed the test. They need to show other boys how well they've done and this is reflected in their behavior in social groups, on the streets, and at school, where this presents particular problems. "Educators need to realize that some of what is called misbehavior in classrooms should be viewed sympathetically as boys' need to act out a masculine identity. For little boys this can include being a wise guy or a class clown. Older boys may prove themselves by being bullies," says Joseph Tobin.

So to Mare (3 boys) Erica (2 boys) Sue (2) Ansley (2) Lynn (2) Amy (2) Shelli (2) Amy (3) Sandy (2) Tania (1) Sara (3) ....I say...can't hurt to read up. We are all women...raising men? May be a harder job than I had originally labeled it!?!?! :)


Erica said...

Oh Renee, I am sorry my crying child sent you to the daunting task of reading up on raising boys :) Benjamin needs to toughen up a bit at times. And,the tables could have easily been turned. The funny thing is you and I both would have reacted in exactly the same way. I think there is a difference between letting boys be boys and letting boys be antagonists. I would have called out Benjamin in a second for the same thing! It is a shame I guess that we do not "get" the testosterone driven "stuff" about boys. But, I can tell you what we do get: We get scraped knees, high fevers, broken hearts, itchy bugs, bedtime stories, snuggles just for the sake of snuggling, and countless other things that our "men" could not live without. So, we will leave the Manliness to the MEN and keep on expecting our boys to be better than the generation that is raising them. That is what we all want, right? For our children to be smarter, sweeter, kinder, stronger than us...and I have a profound feeling that Benjamin and Benjamin are well on their way to achieving just that...even if their mothers are raising them!

Erica said...

BTW, I agree that Steve probably has this one correct, but that doesn't make it right :)

LoveBKW said...

I am so with you! Steve may be on the mark, but that mark it not acceptable for my little men!!! :) And you make an awesome point...where would our "men" (husbands included) be without our softer side? NOWHERE! We make their world a great place and I know that even they would agree with that!! better be reading all of this!!!! :)

dandsratz said...

Holy Cow....between Erica's blog about being more sensitive, and Renee's deep thoughts about raising men...NO PRESSURE!!! :) Ha! Ya'll are totally making me REALLY think this week! Guess this one's another conversation that Dave & I will have before we fall asleep tonight!! I love it!!!

Dianne said...

OK - I couldn't pass this one up. I'm Stephen's mother! I want to share his upbringing, good or bad that it was. Stephen was always taught to not hit, provoke, taunt, whatever term you want to use. He was taught "to be nice". And look where it got us?!! He comes up with a statement like that! But you know what? He's a good guy. As his mother, I wouldn't trade him for anything. (As his wife, Renee, some days you may feel otherwise. It goes with the territory, I guess.) So boys can learn the hard "man stuff" from the guys. They still need their mothers to teach them the softer side of life. Keep up the good work, girls!!