the blessing of boys (and how we’re failing them)

Our boys are such a gift.  Seeing the world with new eyes each day.  Laughing riotously, about everything, anything, and nothing at all.  Full of big dreams and even bigger imaginations. 

But in many ways, we fail our boys, too. 

We don’t do enough to encourage their sensitivity.  Middle school students mock boys for crying, and there are still too many parents who reinforce that message at home.  I don’t want my son falling apart over a paper cut (my daughter either!), but our boys need to know that it’s okay to cry.  That sometimes, sitting through the really hard stuff and letting it out is the only way to move forward.

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5 things boys should know by 5th grade

1.  Being a bully isn’t cool.  It’s just sad.  Sure, you might have some sycophants who stand around and echo your taunts, but you don’t impress them.  Deep down inside they think you’re a loser, they’re just not ready to toss you off your self-appointed throne yet.

2.  I know you’ve got a lot going on right now.  Physical changes, growth spurts, a newly pungent body odor that brings tears to your teachers’ eyes…but all those girls in your classes? They’re also going through puberty, and there are plenty of changes raging through their bodies, too.  So tread gently.  Be kind.  And remember that there may be days when your friend acts batshit crazy – don’t call her on it.

3.  Girls can be cruel to each other…incredibly cruel.  They spread gossip and backstab and freeze each other out of groups until fifth grade resembles a grudge match on WWE.  My best advice?   a) Stay out of the drama.  It’s easy to get sucked in; avoid the temptation.  b) Be a good friend to the girls you know.  A guy’s perspective is invaluable, and a true girl friend can give be the best support you’ll find among your peers.  c) Stick up for your friends.  You wouldn’t let one of your bros get dogged at recess; give your girl friends the same consideration.

4.  Unexpectedly starting your period is mortifying, and it’s particularly traumatic for young girls.  It’s humiliating to find yourself in blood stained shorts, and fifth grade classmates aren’t exactly known for their compassion.  You must never participate in teasing or cruelty, or be one of those boys who piles on when the class is snickering away.  Be ready to quietly clue in the teacher – it could mean the difference between an embarrassing moment and public shaming that leaves emotional scars.  There’s plenty of embarrassment to go around in the puberty years; the next one up to bat may be you.

5.  Teachers are people – real, live people – and they have bad days, too.  This means sometimes you’ll deserve the reaming you get, sometimes it might be an overreaction, but them’s the breaks.  Just like sometimes you get away with the nonsense you pull at school, and sometimes you get caught.  It all evens out in the end.

assistant principals, fifth grade, and The Talk

Do you know what’s coming up?!

No, what’s coming up?

The fifth grade class on bodies and stuff!

“Bodies and stuff”?  So you’re gonna talk about bodies and…sports?  Hobbies?  Star Wars?

NO!  Like, BODIES.  They separate the boys and the girls, and the boys have to go with Mr. H. [the assistant principal] and he’s gonna talk to us about…[dramatic pause] like, penises and stuff.

Really?  You say that like you might burst into flame or something.

Ah, the dreaded fifth grade talk.  Is there anything more tragic for an eleven year old than sitting in a room with his or her classmates, listening to an adult they know talk about puberty? Not according to my kids.  T-man survived his and he’s already priming Bear for the dreadful day when she’ll be herded off with the girls to discuss womanly things.

Oh, the horror.

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when did THAT happen?!

I thought I had a handle on things around here.  I mean, I feel like I’m pretty on top of it as far as being a mom goes, but it turns out I’ve had a couple of rude awakenings over the last six months or so.  Moments when I’ve looked at T-man or Bear and I’m absolutely certain I’ve entered a time warp.

At the risk of sounding like every other parent on the planet, it feels like we’ve zoomed through the last ten years.  I can still picture T-man and Bear’s pudgy legs as they wobbled around the family room, hands grasping for bottles or hugs.  It seems like they were just babies…then toddlers, then kindergarteners…

So how on earth did we get here?!

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Missing Letter Monday: no X

missing letter banner

Excellent!  One of the hardest letters to use in Scrabble, so finally there’s an advantage to drawing the X.  Today’s challenge is brought to you by The Mad Grad Student’s Missing Letter Mondays.


My apologies ahead of time if you love someone with this particular inclination but I am seriously at a loss so…

Mustaches.  I mean, what the hell are those about?

Ladies (and gentlemen), I understand everyone’s got their own particular jam and I’m all about whatever floats your boat, but I’ve never once looked at a fella sporting a ‘stache and thought to myself omg omg omg, he’s looking my way, just look at that ‘stache, HE’S SO HOT.

Just…no.

I find mustaches oddly distracting.  Like a train wreck I can’t look away from, I struggle to concentrate on whatever the gentleman might be saying but fail miserably because all I can see is upper lip hair wiggling with every syllable.  Which means suddenly I’m Charlie Brown and ‘stache man is the teacher.  He could be sharing the secrets of the universe, but all I’m hearing is wah wah wah wah.

Then there’s that inevitable pause because I’ve been asked a question but have absolutely no idea what it was because, again, ‘stache.

It’s not even like this is a quality issue.  There’s no such thing as a “good” mustache to me – bushy, trimmed, skinny, handlebar – no matter the style or lack thereof, I simply can’t stop myself from wondering what on earth would possess a man to grow hair there.

I mean, it takes effort.  Not actually growing the hair per se, but shaping and maintaining a mustache takes time out of a guy’s day.  Time he could spend on, say, cutting toenails or trimming nose hair.  (Just sayin’.)

I won’t bother with the crumb trap argument since it’s not like the rest of us don’t end up with ketchup on our face from time to time.  A mustache does seem to increase the likelihood of general food messiness, though, so you’ve gotta wonder why someone would open up that can of worms…

Or maybe they’re just better at eating neatly.  In which case more power to them but still.

To ‘stache or not to ‘stache, that is the question.  I kind of thought it was a no brainer, but considering how many mustaches I see floating around out there it’s clearly up for more of a debate than I thought.

Regardless, this was my random I-just-don’t-get-it babbling for the day.  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

6th grade is looming

We’re wrapping up fifth in a couple of months, and if we’re juggling this kind of drama in elementary school I shudder to think what awaits us next year…

“…As a former school guidance counselor, and a current national life coach and teen expert, I can recall several instances where teens either met someone online via an anonymous social media outlet, sent and received sext messages believing that they were going to be for the eyes of only one person, but we all know that isn’t true

I can also recall a time when a young 13-year-old girl asked me, ‘Is sex really like what it looks like in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie?’  

Yes, that happened.  

This young lady received a few clips of the movie via text messages that had been circulating around her school.  She asked me this question because she was considering losing her virginity, and she wanted to know if she should expect to be whipped and tied up when she has sex for the first time.

Welcome to the Fifty Shades of Middle School.

Dear Parents, This is What Your Kid’s Guidance Counselor Wants You to Know About Sex and Middle School – For Every Mom

boys and girls and the endless dance

Throughout all of history boys and girls have been caught in this dance.  There were probably cave moms who listened to their sons moan and groan about the cave girl across the way who was so mean to them.

Boys.  And girls.  And drama.

It’s the classic formula.

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bless the child

What society demands of the youngest among us…it ought to be a crime.

“This week is all about C.J.  If you knew my son at home, you’d assume he’s made for weeks like this when all eyes are on him.  At home he acts as if he’s born to shine, sparkle and steal every scene in this feature film called life.  When talking about his future, he’s gotten in the habit of starting every sentence with “When I’m famous…”  At home, he’s no wallflower.  

Things are much different at school.  This year he works every day to blend in and avoid doing something that will call attention to himself and his gender nonconformity.  He’s in constant fear that the wrong classmate will find out that he likes girl stuff.”

Show and Tell Anxiety | Raising My Rainbow