Rules for raising boys July 31, 2009 at 6:55pm

This post was written originally the day after my older son and middle child’s 18th birthday.  Seems like only yesterday, yet a 100 years ago as well. 

Having raised a daughter already, I thought boys wouldn’t be that different. However, after much soul-searching, I’ve realized the rules and expectations really are worlds apart! Here are my top 15 house rules when dealing with sons….

15. Having a few friends over for girls means 2 -4 girls will be over. Having a few friends over for guys means most of the 12 grade. And they’re hungry. And will most likely stay for 3 days or until the food runs out.

14. All directions must be very detailed, as it is clear that the older they get, the more brain-damaged they become. For example, tell your daughter to clean her room, and it’s pretty certain that it will be somewhat cleaned. However, tell a boy the same thing, and you will likely hear “But you didn’t tell me to pick up the cups/plates/utensils/trash/dirty underwear/moldy pizza box!”
13. Little boys can be placed into a car seat perfectly clean. However, when removing them upon reaching your destination, they will be dirty. Dirt level increases in direct proportion to the importance of them being clean when you get there….

12. Boys are capable of feeding themselves, regardless of how much they claim to need your help fixing a bowl of cereal. To prove it, set up a video camera after midnight in the kitchen.

11. Boys are noisy. Even when they’re trying to sneak in the house, they’re loud. If your boys are quiet, they aren’t home.

10. LIFT THE LID! You know, I’ve come to understand that nothing bad will happen if you don’t put the seat back down, but bad things will happen to you if you don’t lift it to begin with!

9. The dryer is not to be used to coax another week out of your clothes before washing.

8. You have 2 clothes baskets: one for dirty, and one for clean. Don’t confuse the two. I will not wash clothes that are still folded.

7. The house isn’t that big…there is no need to leave a trail of your socks, shoes, and shorts lying around to help you find your way from room to room.

6. Do not steal my shampoo/body wash/deodorant because you’ve run out, then complain that you smell “girly”.

5. When I go grocery shopping, I do so for 2 weeks at a time. It is not a challenge to you and your friends to see how quickly you can eat all the food!

4. The microwave is not a mini-refrigerator, neither is the oven. Please do not stash food in there for later. You also are not kin to a squirrel.

3. When using the oven, please check inside it first in case someone forgot about rule #4.

2. We have a front and back door. There is no need to climb through the second floor bathroom window just because you can.

and my number #1 rule for dealing with boys….

1. Just because you have the “What?” gene does not mean that you have to say “What?” after everything I say, then immediately answer the question/respond anyway…you heard me the first time!!The whole crew!  Cody, Heather, Ryan, Lee, Michael, Dejuan, Zac, Logan, Zack

The whole crew! Cody, Heather, Ryan, Lee, Michael, Dejuan, Zac, Logan, Zack

A funny thing happened on the way to the dissertation…

Well, it’s been an interesting journey to say the least in my pursuit of my Ph.D. in Special Education and Disability Policy, filled with more twists and turns than a John Grisham novel to say the least!

I’d like to think that I was completely and thoroughly dedicated to this endevor, but oddly enough, “Life” kept conspiring with the writing Muses to keep this project dragging on for what feels like forever.  I have always been a lover of learning, but not a finisher of classes.  I married young, started a family young, and those factors combined with the very limited finances of a growing young family made it challenging to finish my post-high school education in anything that resembled a timely fashion.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade a single moment of diaper-changing, sleepless nights, and last minute science projects with the kids to be able to say I had my degrees, but in the end, this path to becoming “Dr. Mom” as the kids put it, will have been a total of 28 years to traverse.

Really? 28 years?  And I thought my husband was the one who couldn’t take the shortest route anywhere!

So, here I am, at the start of what (had BETTER be), my final semester of dissertation pursuit.  I’ve got to turn in my first three chapters to my chair next week, the official start of the new semester, in order to officially present my prospectus.  Assuming I don’t get the “What were you thinking?” cold stare, I should be able to get IRB approval pretty quickly and get this final ball rolling down the hill.  Actually meeting with the subjects to collect data will take two afternoon sessions…the analysis and write up will be much faster.  Stop sniggering….I LOVE qualitative research; analyzing and discussing relationships is what gets this geek grinning like a twitterpated Thumper (Bambi reference for you youngsters…not Twitter). I’ve been known to get into a writing project, turning out a truly quality 20 pages or so in one sitting.  I’m just weird like that.

This final year, I took a leave of absence during the fall semester thanks to leaving my post at the university (not of my choice but due to budget constraints and reconfiguration of the department) and returned to the elementary classroom: as a 4th grade teacher…in a TINY private school…as  a general educator.  This has been a side trip of grand and epic proportions, and merits its own blog later.  I thought of it as a “reflective vacation” from academia.  In reality, it was a mental health vacation.  In 2005, when I started the pursuit of the final degree, and believe me, it is THE final degree, my daughter had just graduated from high school, and the boys were 14 and 10.  I had been having a few “health issues” that had gotten me thinking that staying in the classroom with students with emotional/behavioral disorders for the rest of my career might not be in the cards, as I noticed my reflexes getting slower and slower with major joints and spine becoming less flexible.  Not an ideal combination if you regularly are dodging flying furniture and runners.  The family graciously agreed that we would sell the dream home on 5 acres, downsize, and let me go back to school full time to retrain my brain in a career path less physical.  I figured I would be ideal at inspiring future generations of teachers to work with and inspire their own generation of students.  Feel free to wipe the spewed coffee off your screen now.  I’ll wait.

I was going to finish the 60 hours of coursework plus the dissertation in 3 years.  I was DRIVEN! I was AMBITIOUS!  I was an IDIOT! Over the next three years, my husband had 2 heart attacks, I was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Spondylorapathy, as were BOTH the boys, my daughter was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (actually, she was diagnosed first, leading to the rest of us being “discovered”), followed by my daughter learning that the phrase “You’ll never be able to conceive a pregnancy” is actually the magic fertility spell.  In other words, Life had other plans.  Still, I made it through the coursework in 4 years.  Not bad…not bad at all.

Then hubby lost his job, not once, but twice, and had another heart attack.  In hindsight, had I not been in academia teaching and running grants, we probably would have not made it; there is a flexibility to the hours that saved us and made it possible to make all the doctors’ appointments that were required to get everyone to a healthy place again.  However, there is a bit of a dark side…it meant I wasn’t able to keep up the frantic pace to finish the dissertation research quickly.  My star was losing its shine.  When it came time to start applying for positions within the University, as I have no real desire to uproot my family from the area, I was confronted with another harsh reality of academia thinking that’s counterintuitive in my old department…don’t hire the people you’ve just spent a fortune training.  Ouch! Never mind the contributions to publications, the workshops or new initiatives, or the willingness to advise undergrads and actually enjoy it, my services were no longer required due to the fact that I was “home-grown”.  I’ll leave you to think on that one; it’s a pending topic for discussion.  But in a nutshell, it was a life-changing, bitch-slap of a wake-up call.  What was important to me, career, family, personal goals…all were suddenly and forcefully tossed in the air for rearranging.

So, here I am, a short 4 months shy of the elusive terminal degree, and I am finally feeling ready to “belt it out” and be done.  The mere fact that I’ve decided to share this journey with anyone willing to have a look speaks volumes to where I’ve come over the past 6 months.  Thank you for joining me in a reflection of where I’ve been and where I’m headed.  I hope these topics and musings are half as interesting to you, as they have been challenging to me.  I look forward to getting to know your journey as well!