Little Boys

Magoo started Little League this week. I’ve never seen him this excited about a new sport. It could be all the gear. (The protective cup is certainly blowing his mind.) Maybe it’s the danger of never knowing when one of the other muffin-headed kids will whack you in the face with a metal bat. Whatever it is, there’s just something about baseball that thrills him and it’s so fun to watch.
He wants to wear the batting helmet all the time, running the bases, doing passing drills, standing in the outfield. It gives him the look of an oversized bobble head, made more adorable by the perma-grin on his face.

Of course there were the usual crazy boy shenanigans. They made crude noises which were, of course, followed by raucous laughter. A couple of them walked around with mitts on their faces, pretending to be Darth Vader. None of them, however, did anything illegal. That was left to older boys, later in the week.

We were at the park, where a group of tween Justin Bieber wannabes were tearing up the playground and scaring the kids. These boys travel in a pack and they’re annoying but not usually destructive. Every couple of weeks I a-little-bit tell them off and they a-little-bit stop being annoying.

They’re loud. They run fast. They throw things. They run up the slide when littles are trying to slide down. They wear skinny jeans and those zip-front skeleton face hoodies that make Wanda cry. Personally, I think they should find a skate park somewhere and leave the baby swings to the babies.

Well, after they’d driven all the young families but mine from the park, they ended up in a pow-wow around the slide, whispering and pointing and talking about marking everything with their “gang sign”. They are twelve-year-old preppies who play at a children’s park. Quite the gang.

When I walked toward them, they dispersed and headed for home.

What was on the slide? Chicken scratch written in permanent marker. It dawned on me that I was the adult in this situation.

“Boys!” I called out in most menacing mom-ish voice.

All but one froze in their 12-year-old aviator-glasses-wearing tracks.

“Did you write on this playground equipment?”

In unison, they all pointed at their fleeing friend, already a block away on his scooter. Because that’s literally how he rolls, on a Razor.

“He did it,” one boy piped up sheepishly. None of them moved. They’re old enough to be annoying, still young enough to think I had the power to keep them there.

“Well, you can tell your friend that what he did is illegal. If I see you doing anything like that, I’m calling the police.”

No one vomited but I’d say it was a close call.

“So you’re telling me that none of you wrote on anything on the equipment this park?”

The same boy piped up, all the color draining from his face, “I, I, I just drew it on that boulder over there to show him how and then he, he drew on the slide. It’s not illegal to draw on rocks is it?” His question wasn’t belligerent. It was sheepish. He really wanted to know.

“Everything in this park belongs to the city,” I said, my voice serious as a sledge hammer, “It is definitely illegal to deface public property.”

“But I, I, seriously, I really didn’t know.” He looked like he was about to cry.

“That’s why I’m giving you a warning. Don’t let it happen again.”

They all nodded earnestly and turned to go, their heads hanging slightly. It’s a strange kind of power to be able to terrify a pack of man-children. Hopefully they’ll knock it off. But I will call the police and even more frightening, their mothers, if I see any of that behavior again.

For now, my own little man is a cute mini baseball dude. On the way to the bus stop this morning, he ran up beside me and grabbed my hand, holding it all the way to the top of the hill, even in front of his friends. He’s nearly seven and I know this kind of mamma/baby boy affection can’t last forever but I sure hope he never gets to the point where perfect strangers have to scare the cheese out of him at the park to get him to behave.

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13 Responses to Little Boys

  1. Mir says:

    Pssssst… my 12-year-old still holds my hand. In public, sometimes, even. Boys rock. 🙂

  2. Good job DYM – you are a good citizen!

  3. Ruth Hyland says:

    Good for you. My 13 year old is still a good kid, but i am surprised how much more effective advice from others is becoming. I hope there are others out there like you that are willing to say something to my kids when they are acting stupidly.

  4. Sabrina says:

    I don’t *think* my male tween-man-child was part of that pack–he’d better NOT have been. Though I’m sure some of his friends/acquaintances were. Speaking for myself, if he WAS part of that pack, I’d definitely want to know about it.

    They use that park as a rendez-vous spot . . . I agree with you that they should find somewhere else, but the reality is that there *is* not much else, at least not within walking distance. I understand what you’re saying about the younger kids and families, and I worry about that, too. But, selfishly, I like the fact that they are at a park on a busy corner, where everyone can see them, and I know that if they make any stupid decisions, they are also very likely to get caught.

    • Oh, I would let you know if he was. I did not know any of the moms of the kids that were there or I’d have made phone calls yesterday. I’m confident I could track them down if I really needed to in the future.

      I get what you’re saying about them needing a place too and I’m not selfish enough to assume that only my kids and their friends should use the park. Even when the big kids are standing in the baby swing, yelling at each other, I make Ivy wait her turn.

      In the past I’ve asked them to be respectful of the little kids and not trounce all over them. I don’t love them pressuring my 8-year-old to get off her bike so they can take it for a joy ride. And the graffiti is absolutely not okay.

      I think kids of all ages can play there but they all need to be respectful. So, yeah, I’ll be the park police and I hope we can all get along.

  5. Sabrina says:

    Not sure how to reply to your reply. I absolutely agree with what you are saying. They need to be respectful, they need to understand that they do not own the park and they have to be respectful of others. Graffiti and pressuring Magoo to get off his bike? WAY out of line . . . you shouldn’t have to put up with that and I would have reacted the same way you did, only probably not as nicely. 🙂

    This has made me realize that it’s time for another talk with Alex about this kind of thing . . . thanks for the reminder.

    • I want to reiterate that I’ve never seen your kids involved in this stuff. Part of the point of this post is, Magoo is a boy and he’s growing up and he’ll be in a pack of man-tweens soon enough. It makes me nervous because you can teach them this stuff and that’s great but when you’re not around and they’re busy being bubble heads, they can get themselves in trouble. I’m glad to live in a small town where other moms will help us keep our kids in line. 🙂

      I’ll post part of this response on the blog. Don’t want to embarrass Claire…

      I have a hard time with that. She said that next time she’ll stand up for herself and I told her that if she doesn’t, I will. Sometimes you have to be a mom, even if your kids are embarrassed by it.

  6. Emily says:

    Our local paper just did a major article did a two part article about the moving target that is the challenge of raising boys in today’s society. Being only one month into raising my first boy it did just enough to scare me and make me realize raising boys is a different ball of wax. Thank you for keeping the expectations of what young men can and should be high.

  7. Mother of the Wild Boys says:

    Thanks for this post. I think you did the right thing to stand up and help those boys learn that what they were doing was not okay. You rock.
    With the age range of my boys (11, 9, and 7) I’m dealing with both ends of the spectrum right now. My tween is confusing me more every day, and my “baby” boy still climbs up in my lap to cuddle. Of course, there’s also the fact that my tween made dinner for the whole family last night, while my little guy still needs someone to “accompany” him to turn on the light in the dark bathroom. As a parent, we can’t fully appreciate the joys without experiencing the pains, right? 🙂

  8. Pam in Utah says:

    I heard a licensed clinical social worker give a talk, recently, where she was describing the differences in the way our children’s social atmosphere is different these days, compaired to a generation or so ago. It used to be that if a child acted poorly and a neighbor’s parents saw it, they would do what Kathryn did–be the adult and help them be responsible and influence them for good. These days more and more adults are not around or unwilling to get involved or even have lower moral and ethical standards or don’t care. WE NEED MORE people to help us with our kids-to help them aquire self discipline and reinforce moral values and decency. I hope all parents would be willing to help each other out in this arena- not take over- but not stand idly by, either. Especially our near neighbors. Good job Daring Young MoM.

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