I know it’s unfair for me to write about how much you are missing out if you don’t have a boy. The same would be true if I wrote about how wonderful it is to have a daughter. Easy for me to say, as I have been fortunate to have both.

But today has been one of those days when I have to shake my head, and then duck it real quick to conceal my laughter, at the hilarious adventures that boys bring into our lives. I cannot imagine life any other way.

Here are just two examples, both from today:

We went to my parents house to watch the UK game. We’re all sitting inside and my mom and dad are asking if it’s okay that the kids are playing out front unsupervised. “Oh yes,” I assure them, “They are fine. We let them play outside alone all day. They never get into any trouble.”  yeah yeah yeah.

A few minutes later, during a timeout in the game, John goes to check on the kids real quick and comes back in the room and very calmly says, “Come look at this.” Outside, high up in a pine tree–I mean like 15-20 feet up–was Henry. My Dad says it was at least 25 feet; Let’s just say it was dangerously high. I felt my stomach drop all the way to my toes. It would have been remarkable enough for him to get that high, except that Henry had climbed all the way up there in flip flops, so getting down was just as dangerous. We spent the next several minutes coaching him down slowly, hoping that a trip to the ER would not interrupt our UK ball game.

About a half hour later we looked out the back window and Henry was walking along the top of my parents’ privacy fence. Sheez. No fear and they never learn. The truth is, my boys spend at least part of every day dangling from one of the trees in my yard. I just expect that one of them will break an arm at some point. Isn’t that a rite of passage?

What I didn’t expect was what I found later on this evening when I rushed outside to the sound of Cate’s ear piercing screams. There on the sidewalk were my boys, each tethered by rope to a bicycle, and then also tied to each other. Thomas was visibly in pain and was shouting (okay, he was screaming like a girl, and it may have been his screams and not Cate’s that I heard originally) for someone to get some scissors. I didn’t know where the scissors were, but I could see from the porch that the rope was cutting off his circulation in a dangerous way. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen (I know, REAL safe idea) and then John came along and we proceeded to cut them free.

Then we yelled at them about how they’re going to hurt themselves one day and sent them all to take showers and go to bed . At 7:00. Because we’re mean like that. And while they took showers we laughed behind their backs. Because it was ridiculous. I mean, who thinks they can tie themselves to each other, plus a heavy object and haul it that way?

Oh. Yeah. Boys think that.

Here’s what else I’ve learned to love about boys over the years:

When doing boys’ laundry, you must allot an extra half hour to empty the pants pockets of all the sticks, tissue, gum, candy wrappers, magnets, legos, pencil bits and various other materials. If you do not allot this time, you will be very, very sorry. And you will also be buying a new washing machine.

When buying groceries for boys you must take whatever your weekly cost estimate for food is and quadruple that. It’s either that, or you need to buy a weeks’ worth of groceries every other day. And that’s just to have rail thin boys, who look like they are starving orphans. I have no idea how much it costs to raise a robust one.

When being asked by a small boy, “Do you want to see what I made? (or did)”–always take a deep breath and possibly put on rubber gloves. Boys (at least mine) are impervious to the fact that smashed worms, muddy holes in the ground, and the inside of garbage cans are disgusting. In fact, apparently the inside of garbage cans make excellent hiding spots if you want to win at hide and go seek.

If you have really small boys, like under age 2, then you want to remember to NEVER EVER leave them alone in the kitchen with groceries that need to be put away. I have three different home videos of Henry, when we failed to follow this basic rule when he was around 14 months old (Gee, I wonder what could have been distracting us? Oh, yeah, a newborn baby!). In one video he has proudly dumped an entire can of Cayenne pepper on the kitchen table and is spreading it everywhere. In the next one, he has smeared purple finger paint all over his entire body (it was washable, thankfully), and in the last one he had gotten into some chocolate syrup. Oh yes. You can see why I chose to get out the video camera rather than the mop.

But you know what else I’ve learned about boys? That once they come out of the shower, and their dirty fingernails have been clipped, and their rooster hair has been combed down, they feel so good cuddling in your lap (at least my littlest boy still loves to sit with his mommy). And boys say the sweetest things to their mommy, when they’re in the mood. Just ask them who is the prettiest girl that they know. (it’s always mommy, at least for now) And boys will carry your groceries in, or run out in the rain to get your mail, or any other number of things you don’t want to do, all without being asked. Because boys are just little men in training.

I sure hope I’m training mine the right way. Tree sap, rope burns, rocks in their pockets and all.

Thomas "installing carpet" on our unfinished staircase while I was otherwise occupied. 2005

We find this little boy in the most unusual places. Today it was the top of a tree. In this photo, he was stuck in a chair. 2005

What do you mean "trouble" ?? My sweet boys, 2006

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