10

Industrial Waste…part 2

Boys are my world. One boy shares the sofa with me as I write this, his freckled nose buried in a well-loved copy of Huckleberry Finn and his shockingly dirty feet periodically jabbing me in the leg. Through the sliding door I see the two blond heads of my oldest and youngest sharing a pillow, the one finally asleep for his morning nap the other smiling triumphantly for having gotten him there. The house is unusually quiet with the two other younger ones off on an overnight trip to Volcano National Park with Dad and a visiting cousin.
They may be gone but their hasty departure left evidence all the way to the door of the everlasting presence of boys in my life. Beach towels and boogie boards still drying from yesterday’s use line one side of the lanai. Hockey gear from last night’s practice is strewn all over the other side. Cereal bowls and spoons dot the table from breakfast. Peanut butter and jam linger yet on the counter while the sandwiches they went into are traveling, bagged and labeled according to the tastes of the adventurers who will be inhaling them later today. These, incessant reminders of our ever-increasing food bills. An assortment of discarded flashlights, dead batteries, and dull pocket knives lie jumbled where they were sorted out in favor of more operational adventuring gear. All this just in my line of sight. The bedroom and bathroom down the hall remain mercifully out of view. I shudder even to think…
There really are only 2 reasons I don’t have pictures posted so you too could revel in this scene, and they are as follows: 1. Tom took the phone/camera with him so I don’t have anything to take pictures with, and 2. My dear, uber-sauber, German mother would be so mortified it would probably send her to an early grave. And I haven’t even mentioned the layers of sticky handprints on the glass, the Crayola art on the slip-covers or the containers of lizards and bugs next to the pile of shoes on the front porch (I think I’ve lost her for sure now). Hopefully description will do justice where pictures lack because a real picture is what I want to give. A picture of my manger full of boys in all it’s noisy, sticky, grimy glory.
I love these boys. I love all the other boys that come around to play with them everyday. I love my husband who remembers enough about his own boyhood to be a great Dad to them. So naturally I’m a little partial to boys. Naturally I’m pretty passionate in matters pertaining to their current and future welfare. And because education and work play huge roles in a boy’s current and future welfare, I’m more than a little interested in both. Especially in how they relate to each other.
So you see, somehow I’ve managed to get back to the purpose of this post and it’s place in this series. I just had to give you my qualifications as a means of introduction first, namely the mere fact that I am living, breathing, teaching, studying, scolding, feeding, mending, clothing, chasing, cheering-on, worrying-over, praying-for and cleaning-up-after boys 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I think that might make me somewhat of an expert.
Oh, and this just in. While I might not have the phone/camera to take pictures of home with, Tom just emailed a few shots he took with it on their adventure. So at least I have something to appease the Omas and Opas with. And now I had better go clean house.

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13

Industrial Waste… part 1

My boys were granted a rare privilege today.  They got to do yard work.  Because we live in a gated community where all the landscape upkeep is hired out, they never get to enjoy the thrill of raking or weeding or mowing.  They’ve even asked on occasion if they could help the workers but were told “No” on account of “liability.”  So this morning they were amazed to see two young adolescents pulling out the fern bed around their favorite banyan tree.  They were even more amazed to see how slowly and begrudgingly these two seemed to be performing their task.  “Mom!”  Joel exclaimed, “We could finish that job in 5 minutes!”  “Oh really?” quizzed I, “Why don’t you go tell Albert (our property manager) that?”   So I followed them out the door where Albert happened to be passing on his way to check the progress of the two young men (now hard at work on their cell phones).  “My boys want to know if they can pull some ferns, too.”  To which I casually added, “And they seem to think they can do it a lot faster.”  Albert explained that the other two boys (still busy on their cell phones) where being punished for some unmentionable crime against the homeowners association and would need to finish that patch of ferns themselves but if my boys really wanted they could work on the other patch across the way.

They dove right in.  Even Gideon managed to get a few leaves and stems into the trash can for which accomplishment we clapped and cheered like he’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize for Industry.  It ended up taking them about 8 minutes to finish the job but if Gideon had been a little more focused and if Titus hadn’t left early to make butterscotch pancakes they probably could have had it done in 5.  Meanwhile, the dawdling delinquents across the way had a long mornings’s work still ahead of them.

I had long suspected that given the choice, most boys would prefer the opportunity to work rather than sit inside a classroom all day.  My suspicions were quite confirmed by an informal survey I conducted on that very matter just last year.  The question arrises however:  What made pulling up ferns a punishment for one pair of boys and a privilege for some others?  

I have my own theory, but I’m curious what the rest of you think.  And before any of you flatter me with speculations of how naturally industrious my sons are, let me assure you that it just ain’t so.  In general they tend to do the minimum amount required to get the job done  There are exceptions at times but I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that there’s not an over achiever in the bunch so let’s just put THAT theory to rest.

Can’t wait to hear your comments and Lord willing, I’ll do much better at responding in a timely manner.  I owe it to you, I know.