The Explorer

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Am I the only one who doesn't want my kids to grow up? When Ezra was a newborn I wished that stage away. It truly was an awful experience. But when he hit 18 months I was praying I could freeze time. It is the best age. They are so sweet, so curious, + like a sponge soaking up everything. It’s also a bonus because they think mom knows best. Now Ezra is two and a half years old + I still love the age he's in now. But I won't lie, I can see slivers of himself changing + evolving in his boyhood. It absolutely breaks my heart. I think most moms would agree at some point we've thought about experimenting with freezing time and living in an age for the rest of our lives; I have at least. 

I have been reading "Wild Things the art of nurturing boys" + y'all, honestly I've debated about stopping after chapter 2. It is going through explaining the different stages in boyhood: what to expect, how to help, etc., etc., etc. And I literally thought to myself, maybe if I stop reading time will stay still and I won't need to prepare for the next season because we can just stay nice + comfy right here. Sighhh… I know that's not true or possible. This book is so helpful though; I wish I heard about it before Ezra turned 2. I come from a family of all girls, so I knew nothing about boys. Which is why I had a mild panic attack when I found out I was pregnant with a boy. Y'all, boys are so different than girls. Reading this book has helped me in understanding boys better + help change some things up that I am currently doing. 

 

Ages 2-4 in the book are labeled as ‘explorers’, which is so Ezra. This child is so curious + it makes my heart skip a beat. I love just watching him play + talk. I wish I knew everything that was going on in his head. At this age though it can be frustrating that all they like to do is wrestle. Literally, it's all we do. Especially if you're in a compromised position like bending over to pick something off the ground, he uses that to his advantage and pounces! My mom jokes that every time she leaves our house she has a new battle wound. But rest assured the book told me that this is totally normal + good. Haha, well that's a relief! It's also hard that they can't sit still. Like ever. The only time we are able to get Ezra still, well semi still is in church. If you know me you know I am SUPER anal about what my kids eat. If it's not homemade + healthy you can pretty much forget about it. (I am a grandparents worst nightmare, sorry not sorry). But on Sunday mom sneaks him Cheetos + m&ms. It really bothered me at first, but he started sitting still in church, so bribery at its best I guess! This is also totally normal in the explorer stage. After reading this chapter I really realized I was putting too much pressure on him + myself in this area.  

Is there anyone else guilty of expecting too much from kids? Sometimes though I can tell Ezra just isn't mentally ready for things. Once I finally let go + give him time he totally gets it on his own. Key though- on his time frame, not mine or what textbook says. I have to constantly remind myself that each child, boy or girl, develops at different times. Growing up isn't a race. In fact, it’s not even about reaching the finish line. It’s more about enjoying each step and not dwelling on the imperfections. Example; Ezra was a slow talker. Which made me worry + made our lives frustrating. He would get so frustrated that he couldn’t communicate exactly what he was thinking, which ended in a temper tantrum. At his second birthday I was still really worried that his words weren't like his other friends his age. We tried flash cards. The WHOLE Shebang. My friend, who is a speech therapist, reassured me to just give it time. So I trusted her + thought his words will come whenever he was comfortable. Well what do you know! One day he woke up with a whole new vocabulary + we are constantly amazed at how good he can talk now. (Which sometimes doesn't work in our favor - it's a lot easier to tell kids ‘no’ when you cant understand them).

 

Here is a snip it from the beginning of the book, I think most boy moms will totally be able to relate! –

         “What’s Normal?

For as long as we have been working with boys and parents of boys, we have been asked the question, “Is this normal?” hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Usually, what is behind the question is a deeper, scarier concern that parents have: “Is my son normal?” Most often, the answer is yes, and much of the parents’ fears and concerns can be allayed by good information and education. But whenever boys are in the equation, you may have to broaden your definition of normal. (This is especially true for women.) Once you have a boy in your life, things you never dreamed of become normal.

With boys, you will find yourself saying things and hearing things that you never thought needed to be said or heard. Like the night my (Stephen’s) wife had to insist to our two-year-old twins that “sixteen times is really enough washing to get your penis clean.” Or the one-day my sons screamed from the bathroom, “Guys! Come see how big my poop is!” As a caregiver to boys, you will be blown away by how many thousands of times you will have to say things such as, “Please keep your feet to yourself” or “Don’t lick the floor” or “Hey! Farting is for private.”

Boys are quite their own creatures, yet there’s much about the way they respond to their environment, themselves, and others that can be explained by the various stages of their development. Understanding how boys develop is foundational to our worries and concerns as our boys pass through the different stages. (It also can help us sound really smart at PTA meetings.)“– Pages 4&5 in Wild Things the art of nurturing boys by Stephen James and David Thomas

 

At the end of each chapter they give you tips if you have boys in this age group. I can't wait for Zach + I to implement some of these things and see how it works for us. While keeping in mind some things that might work for some kids might not be the best fit for others. Dealing with boys is unlike anything I’ve done before, but now I feel so blessed to be a boy mom. It is such a huge responsibility. The boys in our beds now will be someone’s husband, someone’s father, + someone’s grandfather in the future. The prayers we pray now will impact future generations. Pretty neat if you really sit and ponder the seeds we are planting. 

XO Colleen Cashio

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
By Stephen James, David Thomas
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