Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

So, what’s it like with a houseful of boys?


“You have how many boys?!”

That’s a pretty typical response I get when I mention that I am blessed to be the mother of 8 boys.

“And one girl!” I add.

But still, they look at me as if I’m a creature from outer space.

Never mind the big family; raising a houseful of boys is what makes them gape.

And rightfully so.

Because boys really are from a different planet.

There’s so much I learned on the job. I was never a tomboy or anything remotely close. I dreamed in pink, played with Barbies longer than I’ll admit and never got tired of dressing all my dolls for yet another wedding.

With only one daughter, there’s not much dolls and not much pink. Considering she’s a teenager already, dolls haven’t surfaced in this house for years.

True they say boys need dolls too…but after seeing one decapitated doll too many, I finally stopped buying them. Little People will just have to do; at least you can’t just take off their heads.

Doll houses had a bit of a longer life span, but after one too many caved in after being used as a step stool one time too often, I finally admitted defeat and started to think in boy-language.

With only one girl, there’s also not that much drama. But what’s missing in drama is made up in ACTION. With boys, there is always action. Fast moving, loud, banging, tumbling type of action. It’s like boys live their lives on fast forward; there’s always something to touch, to break or to experiment with.

Mundane household items become sought after treasures. Things that I never thought twice about suddenly have deeper meaning and more purposes.

One of the most sought after items in my kitchen is the broomstick – and not because everyone loves to sweep. It is not uncommon to find the poor head of the broom languishing alone in the corner, missing its handle. I used to have a dustpan with a handle too, I loved the convenience of it and did not miss the kneeling down to scoop everything up! The only problem was that the stick handle kept disappearing … and so I was forced to just go with the one piece small dustpan, and I’m still chasing my broomstick, which doubles as all different types of ammunition.

Believe it or not, I do have a strict no-gun policy. We don’t buy toys that come with guns. The problem is, though, that everything from Clicks to Legos to Lincoln Logs to furniture to empty Amazon boxes all moonlight as guns. Every size color and shape.

“Why? Why must everything be a gun? Why can’t you pretend it’s anything else, anything else in the world?!”

And that’s when they turn them into swords.

And that’s also when I realize I just won’t ever get it. I may not ever be able to understand these boys, no matter how hard I try,  but I do understand the reality; everything will be used as a gun. And no, we do not watch violent action movies. It’s another one of those boy things that I can’t figure out.

Hoverboards meandering through the kitchen and a remote control car slipping between my feet as I’m trying to cook, with a drone somewhere overhead; that’s just the normal.

While some people typically find themselves sitting on a chair or couch to relax, some kids just find themselves sprawled out on the counter.

Why?! Just sit on the couch or a chair, why the counter?!”

While there’s a “no throwing balls indoor” policy in this house, it’s not uncommon for a ball to land in the sink as I wash the dishes.

Some kids walk into a room, some kids enter a room as if they’re sliding into home plate.

And I’m left wondering – “Why can’t you just walk in the boring way?!”

But I’m learning. Every single day, I am learning. This is just how they work. The more I try to change them, the more frustrated I’ll be.

It’s my responsibility to teach them, to guide them, and to nurture them.

But not to change them.

One of our best investments is the outdoor trampoline. Yes, I know, I’ve read all the statistics and reasons why not to get one. But if I went by statistics on every item I own, we’d own nothing. Sometimes common sense has to override everything else. It’s a must-have for a house of boys. Because as I keep discovering, boys have this thing called ENERGY. And it’s a good thing. But it also comes at a cost – amongst the costs is endless pairs of pants. After experimenting with multiple different brands of pants I finally came to terms with the fact that maybe it’s not the pants but it’s the person who wears them…and some boys just tear the knees of their pants by the dozens.

They don’t whine. They don’t bicker.

They move. They fight. They roughhouse.

No one teaches them how to. They just do.

They climb, they explore.

Life is one big amusement park, and they treat is as such.

If it can be climbed, climb it. That might be the handles of the drawers, the counters or the tree outside; there’s no difference.

I look at their bright eyes and try to see the world through their eyes for a moment, to see the opportunities galore.

When I see a staircase – regardless of size, all I see is a set of stairs. All boys see is a banister. And the possibilities are endless.

There’s no greater competition than who can jump down more steps at a time; an activity that is not for the faint of heart to watch and an activity I’m getting better at limiting my commentary on while it’s happening. I’m learning how to silently watch from a distance with the corner of my eye and only intervene when it really is getting dangerous. This is a big accomplishment, especially from the girl who has never even taken the steps two at a time.

I try to see it from their eyes; some times I succeed and sometimes I’m left muttering “Why? Why do you think this is ok?! What are they thinking?!”

I still say the typical mother things; we have a trampoline for a reason; no jumping on the couches. Beds are for sleeping, not for jumping.

All the regular boring mother things. The things that go in one ear and out the other.

And amidst the frustration and struggle to understand them and appreciate their endless energy, I count my blessings every day that this fabulous group of fun-loving mommy-hugging boys love to read. Because when the books come out, there’s this thing called SILENCE. It just pops out from nowhere and suddenly everyone is sprawled somewhere else and blissfully reading. And I blissfully do this thing called breathing.

Then there’s the mud, dirt and sand. There can be acres or beautiful play equipment and grass, but they’ll find that one square inch of mud and play there for hours. And if it’s sand, I know that half the sandbox will be coming home with us in their pockets and shoes. When they do decide to switch to the play structure, they will climb it and hang from it in every possible way, other than what it’s intended for. Climb the perimeter of it…swing from underneath it … go up the slide … I’ll just have to believe them that it’s just so much more fun that way. 

There are moments when you just have to laugh to yourself and marvel at their appreciation for small things. Like when I’m putting some clothes in the washing machine (an often occurrence) and the pile weighs like a ton of rocks… and sure enough, in one of the little boy pants pockets there lies … a ton of rocks. Hand selected from the play yard at school, because apparently the rocks in our back yard just aren’t the same.

My boys have taught me to think out of the box and to love it too. They’ve taught me that muddy hugs and well worn pants are signs of happiness. They’ve taught me to prioritize and appreciate the moment. They’ve taught me what’s really important and when to let go. 

But most of all they’ve taught me that motherhood is not about changing your kids to suit your needs.

It’s about changing yourself to be the mother that your kids need.

And there’s a reason that no one ever said it was easy.

Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

Some more about raising boys…


With a newborn in one hand and most of my kids home, I’m keeping my summer bucket list pretty simple.

Organize the kids’ closets.

Organize my cabinet.

By “my cabinet” I mean my personal arsenal where I keep all the most valuable items in the house and all my weapons, including those that can easily turn into weapons of mass destruction.

Continue reading “Some more about raising boys…”

Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

Kitchen grout and kids


What happened to the grout?”


What grout?

“The grout on the kitchen floor, between the tiles;  why is it that color?”

I stood there staring at my landlord, baffled.

There are pros to renting a house and not being a homeowner; namely, when something breaks, it actually gets fixed! A downside, though, is when the owner wants to do an annual inspection and see how the house is doing.

I know he’s not coming to judge my housekeeping abilities per se, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that my capabilities are being scrutinized. As many times as I tell myself he wants to make sure we didn’t knock down any walls or paint the kitchen  without permission, I still can’t help but feel it’s the dreaded housekeeping police, the type every mom has nightmares about, that walk in unannounced when the house is an absolute war zone.

But I was ready and  I was pretty pleased last week when the landlord arrived; the floors were clean and the toys were put away. Even the sinks were empty of dishes!

And the kids – they were all dressed. In matching clothes. No, not matching to each other, that stopped when baby #3 was born. But they were wearing pants and shirts that matched each other, respectively! And some even had socks on. They had all brushed their teeth the night before, their faces were clean. I was proud.

All the more reason why I was standing there speechless when he started asking about the grout.

At first, he gave a quick scan of the living room. All was in its proper place, we hadn’t taken down any walls, or build any new ones either. But it was during his quick look at the kitchen that he stopped to frown.

My first thought was -there are no dishes in the sink! Not a trace of last night’s dinner! Why are you frowning??

And then came the grout question.

You’ve got to be kidding! This house is still in one piece, the place is clean, the beds are made, kids are dressed, and you are worried about the grout?!

But of course, I didn’t say that.

I smiled sweetly and shrugged, “The floor is washed a couple times a week. I guess it’s the sign of life.”

He nodded slightly, not totally convinced.

And I silently counted my blessings. The many blessings that consume my life so that things like tile grout isn’t something that made it to my stress list. To me, that was the sign of a full life.

And later that evening, during bedtime, when I was doing a quick scan of each bedroom before checking off the kids’ charts; to see if clothes were in the hamper and things were put away, I caught sight of some little toy/thingie hiding in the corner of one of the rooms.  I caught myself as I was about to point it out to the kids.

I thought of the grout. Of how I felt when all my hard work on maintaining this house, (ok, with the help of my housecleaner!) was unnoticed, and all that was mentioned was the measly kitchen grout that refused to stay its original color.

The kids had cleaned their room. Their clothing was in the hamper. Their things were properly stowed. And one measly toy, cast aside, was forgotten and unnoticed…well I wouldn’t notice it either. I wanted to motivate them; and mentioning the one didn’t-do instead of the many did-dos would not help them want to do it all again tomorrow.

And later that night, when all was quiet, I did a quick google search just to clear my conscience. And guess what. There is no long term solution for keeping grout clean! Unless you get on your hands and knees and scrub it each night. I’d rather keep it the color it is. As a constant reminder that my life is full of more important things.

Behavior & Discipline

I can’t control my kids. (And I won’t.)


Whose kids are they anyway?

I catch my husband’s eye and sigh in annoyance; can’t someone control these guys?

My husband gives me a knowing look and nods, sharing my frustration. Where are the parents?

But I look around at the crowd and see that it’s pretty obvious; the secret is out, and I can’t pretend much longer. After all, they kinda do look like their father.

It’s our monthly community dinner and it’s apparent that everyone, my  kids included, are enjoying themselves. One is lounging under the table, one is eating chummus with his fingers, oblivious to the guy sitting near him. Hmm, I notice his seatmate leaning as far away from him as possible…I don’t blame him, looks like his suit is dry clean only. Brothers 3&4 are in middle of a game of who-can-finish-all-the-soda-in-this-room-first. Thankfully the two little ones are home with the babysitter!

Yes, they’re mine, and I’ll take care of it.

Can I control them?

Actually, no, I can’t control them. More accurately, I don’t want to control them.

I want to teach them.
Guide them.
Discipline them.
Love them.
Reprimand them.
Praise them.
Kiss them.
Hug them.
Influence them.
Motivate them.

Be a good role model for them.
Listen to them.
Talk to them.

But I won’t control them. I won’t control my kids.

There are many things in my life I do control; like my laptop. When it’s acting impudent or pushing my patience, I control it. With a click of
the lid, I snap it shut and I win. I control it.

When my oven starts overdoing my food, I just hit cancel and ta da, its off. I’m in full control.

When my phone rings and I’m not talkable, I swipe the decline icon and just like that, I control my phone.

I have higher expectations for my kids; I want them to be successful, passionate adults. I don’t want them to grow up and be little gadgets or robots; ones you can control by switching them on and off.

I want them to thrive. I want them to be people.

And so I won’t control them.

But I will continue to teach them to eat chummus with a spoon.