Boys will be boys (if we let them)

I love it when you say, “Hey! Me, too!” Then I am able to put my life into perspective. I have to admit, though, that when you say, “You’re doing a great job!” I think perhaps your judgment is off because sometimes, right here in my own stretch-marked skin, things don’t look so cheery. However, I’ll tentatively agree with you . . . you probably have a better view of things from there. I’m too close.

So, thanks, everyone, for your supportive comments on the last post. I so appreciate it (even if I haven’t answered your comments. Yet).

Ever since the difficult day with my teenagers, I have been restraining myself, holding back, trying to act like the grown-up in the house. I really must reign in the over-reacting because as anyone with kids knows, children of all ages manage to mirror the behavior and mood of the adult in charge. I find that very annoying because if I’m being irritable the last thing I need is irritable kids. So, I’m pretending to be calm, even going so far as to say to myself, “Okay, be calm, just relax,” which weirdly enough kind of works.

The Tomb movies

Okay, so guess what the boys have been doing for the past three days? (And when I say “boys”, I mean the neighborhood boys as well as my own.) Any guesses? Big hole? Nope. That’s so last spring. Street football? Nope. That’s so last May.

Give up? Okay, get this. I look out the patio window and see a bunch of two-by-fours propped between the deck and the fence. The boys are constructing what looks like an elaborate lean-to, something the folks on Survivor might build on their first of thirty-nine days on an island shore. I march outside to say, “WHAT?” and they say, “We asked Dad if we could use this old wood from the deck and he said it was fine. See? We asked!”

And so I gave a pointless, but mandatory warning about nails and hammers and left them to their creativity and team-work.

100_1310.jpgA little ringleader from down the street who has a rattail haircut brought over his own red hammer and a passel of nails. I think he’s about ten years old and he’s the one who thought it a good idea to drag out the old dog crate from the shed and use it in the construction. (Hey, I paid good money for that crate!) I made him cry today, but it was unintended. I looked out the patio window and saw what looked like an awl. An awl? So, I went out to investigate and said, “Hey, what’s this?” and he grabbed it to his skinny body and said, “It’s my tool from home.” I said, “I know it’s a tool, but what do you plan to do with it in my back yard?”

My son said, “We’re going to poke holes in that.” And he gestured toward the plastic tray from the dog crate, which is in perfect condition. (And that crate cost a lot of money!)

So, being mindful that I am the Queen of Overreaction, I tempered my natural inclination to throw myself forward into a grand mal seizure and said, “Uh, no. Bad idea. You cannot poke holes in anything back here.”

And Rattail Kid burst into tears and said, “I’m taking my tools and I’m going home!” and I said, “Hey, now, you’re not in trouble, but you just can’t ruin that plastic. Plus,” I said, “It’s not your fault. It’s his. He should know better.”

But Rattail Kid said, “No, I’m making bad decisions, too. It was my idea. I’m going home.” And so, I said, “Fine. Go home. But you’re not in trouble.”

Then I reported to his older brother what had happened, being careful to emphasize that he was NOT in trouble. (He did disappear for awhile, then was back with a vengeance.)

You would not believe the backyard shelter now nailed firmly with about a billion nails. Another neighbor brought over a bunch of old wood from his yard, including large sheets of plywood and several big blocks of railroad ties . . . it looks like I’m running a homeless camp behind my deck. (You know those camps you sometimes glimpse in inner cities or under freeway overpasses if you look closely enough? Yeah. That.)

We made them stop nailing things at 6 p.m. in deference to the neighbors who might have their windows open. By then, they’d started a second project in the overgrown hedge. “What are you doing?” I said. “Isn’t one enough?” and my boys said, “That’s their,” meaning Rattail Kid’s and two other boys, the 9-year olds. Apparently, this shelter in the woods is for the teenagers. And they promised to clean it up. Ha. Just like the giant hole they dug. I filled it months later. And like the hammocks in the tree. I gathered up unfamiliar pillows and mildewed sheets months later and deconstructed everything myself.

But! These are the kinds of things boys are supposed to do. In the “old” days, they’d be building a campsite at a creek or piecing together a treehouse in the woods. I love that they are working together, that they are creating, that they are pushing the very boundaries of what they are allowed. (I’ve never let my sons use hammers before . . . what would they hammer? So, to see my 9-year old wrangling that heavy hammer, concentrating on driving a big nail into an old piece of wood warms my heart a little.)

They’ll lose interest in a week or two and then I’ll have to demand that they pull out the one billion nails (which are nailed part-way in, then bent over and nailed against the wood–they’ll never come out without a fight) and put all the materials they used back. Meanwhile, they are being boys. Hooray.

(And this all occurs because their computer is broken. Ha. We came home from vacation and it wouldn’t fire up.)

* * *

Now, here’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me in a thrift store.

I had some time to kill before a movie, so I went to Value Village to browse. I found a black velvet jacket, then noted it said “Anne Klein” on the tag. I examined it closer, noticed the original tag on it with a price of $320.00. I tried it on and it fit, despite being a larger size than I wear these days. The tag said it had two pieces, so I went to the skirts and what do you know? I found the matching skirt, still with its original tag.

The jacket was marked $4.99. The skirt was marked $5.99. I purchased a $320.00 Anne Klein suit for $11.00. Never worn, 100% cotton, black velvet. That’s a mark-down of 97%.

I love a bargain.

11 thoughts on “Boys will be boys (if we let them)

  1. Hey, Mel, just a thought…. if you were the wicked witch from the West, would the entire neighbourhood of kids turn up at your home to play??????? I think not!
    Great find there. $11 is unbelievable! Well done!


  2. Wow. First to the skirt and jacket find. Wow. Velvet. And second, of course, to your boys construction work. That sounds like something I would never allow but my husband would help in. And then later I would brag to everybody that my son did it.

    We haven’t allowed him to use a hammer until now too. He’s 4. We told him he could use the tools after he starts school (This being Germany he will be almost 7 then.) and has learned how to use them properly…


  3. Again, with the me, too!! My boys [as well as about 4 or 5 extra neighborhood boys] have dug holes, built shelters, etc in past summers. Right now they are rebuilding an electric scooter, and really into baseball with a wiffle ball bat and tennis ball.


  4. Some of my best memories of growing up are building “forts” with my brothers. Our neighborhood was fairly new, and “in those days” the construction workers at the new houses going up would let us got through their scrap piles. We’d drag home pieces of wood and build the coolest forts in the lot behind our house. We had a ball! How cool for your boys — and how cool that you let them be kids.


  5. What a DEAL or Steal on the outfit. Take a picture of you in it so we can all see that Value Village find.

    I love to hear that boys are being creative, mine are still too little, but one day I’ll be there. We just watched “How to Eat Fried Worms”
    that is a total boy movie.


  6. I know it had to be frustrating with the boys. But look at what they did on their own!!

    As for the suit!!! You GO girl!!!! I need to go to the thrift shops more often!!


  7. I have 3 sons, so your post made me smile. Our house seems to be the gathering place for all of the neighborhood kids. My husband goes out there and forms dart gun fights w/teams and rules. At least he’s organizing something :).
    I got a Louis Vuitton purse for $1 Sat. (yard sale). The lady just didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t know I wanted one until I got this one, love a deal!


  8. Ah, yes, this reminds me of the good old days and the forts that we weren’t allowed to use nails on. (Think double decker forts that resembled a house of cards). They were so rickety and big and unsafe a neighbor ratted on us and the fire department had to shut us down. I remember being sad as they hauled all the wood and junk away.


  9. Memories…like the corner of my eye. My siblings, our friends, and I so did this same exact type structure many years ago. Our command station.
    $11 is amazing for great clothes! Love a deal.


  10. Wow, great find!

    I smile when I read about your kids digging up the back yard, building third world structures and whatnot. That’s *so* what I want for my kids and what I grew up doing, and so did my hubby! We were determined to move out to the country ASAP when we got married because we literally would not know what to do with kids if we had had them in an apartment in the city!


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