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Boys will be boys

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

They are not babies anymore. They are forces to be wary of.

For the past several weeks we’ve been looking at the house through grandchildren’s eyes, or trying to, to anticipate what they may target. Ours is the quintessential grandparents’ home, with bright magazines, keepsakes, figurines, telephones and assorted electronics. Weeks ago, their mother had already pronounced most of it hazardous to their health, not to mention ours, and I need to put them out of reach.

“Jean, please,” I pled with her. “They’re not babies any more. You can explain to them what is or is not a toy. We’ll take them around and show them what things are just to look at and what things may be picked up.”
Yeah, right.
My parenting skills were being challenged. I’ve long advocated that it’s better to talk with children first, and swat them on the second offense. This will work fine with kids from about 4 years old and older. Worked with our kids, including these boys’ mother.

Or did it? Mary was the kind of child you could sit alone in a room with a bowl of candy within easy reach, tell her not to touch it, and she would not.

Alice, two years younger, would argue about the purpose of such an arrangement, but she would not eat – well, not much, anyhow – of the goodies.

Jean would promise cheerfully whatever I asked of her, until she figured I was out of sight and helped herself. Her sons are definitely her sons.
Everyone says boys will be boys, and I can’t argue with that, having raised only girls.

Samuel will be 8 next month. Uriah says, “I’m a 5-year-old.” They are incredibly smart, physically endowed with strength and balance, and are far and away each other’s best friend. Jean is home schooling Samuel, now in second grade. Uriah joins them at the dinner table – one can hardly tell an inquisitive child to go away.

Samuel reads so well now, he reminds me of myself. I went to a “consolidated” country school with two grades in each classroom. I used to read every book in the little library each room contained, in addition to the next grade’s reading material and every other source I could think of.
It used to pain me almost physically to listen to the other kids’ reading: “Oh, look. The. Dog. Is. Chas. Chase. Ing. The. Uh. Kit. Kit. Kit. Ten.” Sam reads as naturally as he speaks.

The boys are so close, there is really not much one does that the other doesn’t emulate. Which, of course, is the very thing that makes them a dangerous duo. If one hesitates to climb a ladder left against a wall, the other eggs him on to do it. They sometimes sleep in a tangle of long skinny arms and legs, and they rub each others’ heads like they may have once caressed a toy rabbit.

They are not look-alikes at all: Sam’s taller, of course, and thinner, although you can count the ribs in either of them.

Samuel found an indelible pen and used Uriah’s chest for a billboard. Not sure what it is advertising, but it doesn’t look bad. (Don’t tell his mother I said that, although she did smile when she saw it.)

Samuel’s stiff crew cut is blonder than his brown-curly-haired brother. Both are agile and fearless, as witnessed by photos of them walking a narrow wall. Jean took pictures of them clambering around the rocks at Starr’s Mill.

On the last day before they headed home to Virginia, we drove the beautiful 12 miles to Gregg’s Farms orchards near Hollonville. The peaches are abundant and delicious. The boys caught on as directed and gently filled a galvanized bucket big enough to divide into two large brown grocery bags. There were also corn-on-the-cob, blueberries, and tomatoes.

The sun shown through holes in the leaf canopy, lighting up the jewels still attached to the stem. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful week.
Except for one thing. Apparently a little boy who wouldn’t do such a thing climbed to a Dave-built model of HMS Victory displayed on a shelf above the beds in the guestroom at Grandma’s house. When he lost his balance he grabbed the shelf and down came the square-rigger, breaking a couple of masts and one end of the shelf support.

Neither of them said much about it, except to correct our calling it a square-rigger. “It’s a pirate ship, Grandpa.”

It can be fixed. So can the love between grandchild and grandparent. No, they didn’t get into cleaning sprays and prescription drugs as Jean predicted, but, well, boys will be boys. Most of what they break, at 8 and 5, can be fixed with a little glue.

As long as they remember that a grandmother’s heart can be broken too, and they have the tools to repair it.

“I want to cuddle with you, Grandma,” says the younger. “I love you.”


Write me at SallieS@Juno.Com

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