I grew up with three brothers and of the nine children that I labored to bring into this world, eight of them are boys. I like to think that on most days I “get” boys. I must admit though, that there are times when I am completely dumbfounded by the thought process that goes through their mind which brings about some of the things that they do.
Imbedded deep within the soul of every boy is a need for adventure. A yearning to throw caution to the wind, if you will, and just go for it. As a mom of boys, I have found it difficult at times to walk the delicate balance of letting them be boys but not allowing them to cross over into the stupid zone. Many times I have been the lone dissenting voice of reason, but more often than not I really try to let my boys be boys, pray extra hard and limit comments like “Are you guys sure this is a good idea?”
One time when the boys were younger they were playing out in the backyard on a small plastic seesaw that was molded into the shape of an alligator. Fairly harmless toy, one would think, so I felt comfortable going into the house and just checking on them occasionally through the kitchen window. The first few times I checked on them all was well. I rejoiced that they were not under foot and I was able to get the kitchen cleaned up and the floor mopped.
Now when you hear a bunch of boys whooping and hollering and saying things like, “Oh wow! That was cool!” and “Let me try! Let me try!” It is time to put down the mop and see what is going on. Words like that from a group of boys could indicate that they are about to cross over into the stupid zone.
Sure enough, they had attached that “harmless” seesaw to a long rope that was hanging from the poor old magnificent Pecan tree. I knew that the rope was securely fastened to the tree because several days before their dad had tied it up so that they could swing from it like Tarzan. My concern came from the fact that I was way less certain that the boys had securely attached the rope to the seesaw and that they had loaded their four year old brother onto this makeshift flying toy and were pushing him through the air and around the tree.
Yep, stupid zone! I put an end to their fun.
A few years later the boys strung up this same brother who piloted the flying alligator, with chains and attached him to the bicycle hooks that were screwed into the ceiling of the garage. I go into the garage and see my son hanging from the ceiling. The brothers who put him there were nowhere to be found. Matt, my young acrobat, seemed to be having fun swinging from the ceiling and the danger seemed minimal, so on this occasion I chose to let boys be boys. Eventually his brothers showed back up and got him down and the “adventure” was talked about in the Havens’ house for days.
Well, I had just about mastered the difficult balance of not being an overprotective mother but not letting my boys be stupid either, when the stakes suddenly got a lot higher. As the boys got older, swinging from the garage ceiling no longer seemed adventurous enough. Gone were the days of trying to start a fire with nothing but a magnifying glass and the sun. No, now adventure involved dry ice bombs, rockets made from everyday items like diet Coke and Mentos, and rings of fire burning in the street to greet me as I came home from the store. Did you know that if you rub hand sanitizer all over your hands and set them on fire that your hands will not burn?! (This, by the way, is the subject of my next blog.) There seems to be some law among these boys that screams, “The danger involved must escalate!”
One evening while I was in the house I kept hearing the air compressor in the garage kick on. At first I thought nothing of it, but it was coming on frequently and I was also hearing an odd thump as well, so I decided to go investigate. What I found astounded me! The boys had made what I can only describe as a large bazooka gun powered by our air compressor. They were loading large bouncy balls into the barrel of this gun and launching them into the air. The thump I was hearing was these balls leaving the barrel. They were going so high that they disappeared until, upon their descent back to earth, you once again caught sight of them. The boys were in a state of frenzied excitement. All of them whooping and hollering and jumping with abandon. Against my better judgment and contrary to my voice of reason, I allowed this adventure to continue. These boys were bonding. They were feeding their wild side. They were living on the edge. Their dad was right there in the middle of it all so who was I to throw water on this fire of manhood. By the next evening, however, launching balls no longer brought about the same level of excitement. The boys were now sending vegetables, among other things, into the atmosphere. They were even talking about stuffing their littlest brother into the tube! I knew this was not going to end well if they were allowed to govern themselves.
Turned out that my dead-on intuition proved to be right. I walked out of the house just in time to see my large leaf rake soaring effortlessly through the air and headed straight for my neighbor’s house across the street. It was over. They had crossed the line and were knee deep in stupidity. Dad even agreed. The balls were okay. The vegetables were a little “iffy” but still agreeable. Garden tools, however, were a different story and definitely the nail in the coffin of this adventure.
I love that God has surrounded my life with boys. By nature, I am not an adventurous soul. I usually do not take risks and I am most comfortable playing it safe. When we go to a theme park, I actually enjoy standing at the end of the ride holding all the bags and souvenirs. You know what, though? I am learning from my men (and by the way, from my daughter as well, who is every bit as adventurous as her brothers, she just doesn’t walk so close to the stupid line) that life is a roller coaster adventure and not meant to be lived just sitting around at the bottom of the ride holding all the bags.
I recently heard a song on the radio that has been going over in my soul for days. It talked about living life “unsafe, unsure, but unafraid…” Truth be told, that is what I really want for my kids and for me and my husband as well; to live out our days willing to take risks and walking by faith; to live with passion and without fear; to live all out with our eyes fixed on the Great I AM; to live a life worthy of The Lord Jesus and to have a blast doing it.
“Lord, let us live unsafe, unsure, but unafraid…oh and please keep us out of the stupid zone!”