Friday, May 2, 2014

Turning Squirrels Into Boys and Boys Into Men

I have to start this subject off with a shout out to my favorite man.  When I met him he was a twenty-year-old man not a twenty-year-old boy.  That is because he had parents that raised him to be a grown man not a grown boy and because he has a Savior that forgives and saves.  My husband is a Navy Recruiter.  He talks to boys all day who are on the brink of becoming a man.  He talks to boys that were raised to be men and he talks to boys that have been raised to be boys and will probably remain boys for most of their life.  Maybe they join the Navy and the Navy turns them into men in spite of their parents raising them to be grown boys.  He sees these two opposites walk in and out of that door ALL DAY LONG. 
 He tells me all the time…
“Wife of mine, we are raising our boys to be grown men NOT grown boys.” (paraphrased)
 At this very moment...I…well…
 I feel like I’m raising SQUIRILLS…
 They’re.  Just.  So.  Squirrelly.  And naughty.

If you follow my Instagram you see all the clever, silly, wonderful moments.  Every other moment they’re being naughty squirrels!  I don’t Instagram that because that’s just rude but it’s true!  The other day we were in Winco and two of the squirrels took turns slugging each other in the stomach as hard as they could.  Then when we were in Costco an hour later they were taking turns says ‘I love you.’  A lady stopped and told me how wonderful it was to hear them and how well-behaved they were.  I smiled at her and smiled at them.  Inside my head I was thinking, “Yes, the little dear things.  I’m going to take them home and ground them for life and then I’m going to eat an entire bar of chocolate with no one touching me or talking to me.” 
 Yes, those little dear squirrels. 
 How do I turn the squirrels into boys that turn into men… 
 I don’t know.  How am I supposed to know!  My oldest squirrel in only eight!  You tell me how in the world I do this.  If you saw me in Winco you could plainly see that I have no idea what I’m doing.  Moms ask me boy advice all the time.  I give it freely and then I go home to my boys and feel like I need to call that mom back and tell her I actually have no idea what I’m talking about. 

Here it goes anyway…
I know these three things to be absolutely helpful.  They have proven themselves over the eight years of raising my boys to be absolutely fruitful.  I know they are a vital part of raising boys to be grown men and not grown boys.  When it comes time for them to walk through the doors of a Navy recruiter office, or a job interview or their own front door to take care of their wife and kids it WILL BARE FRUIT, darn it!
 I said FRUITFUL not FOOL-Proof. 
Fruitful: you garden goodness into their souls and God grows the results over time.
Fool-proof: I gardened into those squirrelly souls all year so there is no way that they would or should disobey.
 I know my boys are going to make foolish choices.  I still do.  They might walk away from everything I taught them.  I know God will give them the choice.  I put all this spiritual work in so that their lives may be fruitful for Jesus but it will be their choice when they leave my home.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by GRACE you have been saved through faith and that not of your selves.  It is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
 It does NOT say, “For by my parents I have been saved because they didn’t let me get away with anything.”
 Please, please, please stop freaking out….raise your kids the way God says to because it will be fruitful not fool-proof.  You change that mind-set and you will do a lot less freaking out.  God gives you grace every day.  He’ll do the same for your kids when they’re grown.
I know these three things apply to your girls too.  My girl is calm and quick to please (though there’s trouble hidden in that but that’s a different blog post).  My boys are wild and squirrelly.  My girl takes up about a square foot of space.  My boys need an acre if you want to keep your hearing and your sanity. 

These three rules are instrumental with keeping the squirrels from taking over your house.

1NO TALKING BACK.  No negotiating.  You give an instruction, they do it.  You say sweep the floor.  They say “Yes Ma’am” and get off their keester and do it. Remember I said this will be fruitful not fool-proof.  My kids still talk back and then I usually say “Drop and give me thirty burpees” and then we move on with our day.  Don’t you let them talk back and if they do, give them a consequence.  I teach your squirrelly boys.  I can tell the ones that get to negotiate.  I can also tell the boys that don’t get to negotiate and are just squirrelly like mine.  Can’t hide a negotiator.  They are the crazy rabid squirrels.
OWN UP TO MISTAKES.  They will mess up.  Teach them to take responsibility for their mistakes.  Teach them that the people around them will always be affected by their choices.  Their mistakes could ruin plans, feelings, and things.  What they do matters.  They need to care about caring.
SQUIRREL MUST EXERCISE.  Get them outside.  Running, digging, gallivanting…maybe not the last one.  The couch will ruin lives.  I mean it.  I’ve seen it. When a boy is using his physical energy in sports and outside play that’s all the less energy he’s using on driving you crazy with the squirrelly-ness.  I put the boys in wrestling this year.  I know, right?  Nothing more manly than that.  I saw improvement in their self-awareness.  They are learning how to direct their boundless energy.  To get out there and conquer something with your physical strength should be VERY much encouraged in your boys.  Sometimes they use that energy to slug each other in the stomach in Winco but we’re going for fruitful, for crying out loud!

This list is not exhaustive but I’m exhausted.  It’s hard to live with squirrels.
If they just learn the above three things what kind of grown up would walk into my husband’s recruiting office?  A grown man or a grown boy?  Does he respect authority?  Will he be man enough to own up to his mistakes?  Will he rise up in manly strength and fight the good fight? 
I say let’s do this!  I say let’s turn these squirrels into men!
Hold on.  I need another cup of coffee first. 
Okay.  Now let’s do this.