Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Real Life With Boys: Just Add Water

This is what my boys did on Mother's Day:

If you look closely, you might notice the corner of our sandbox about midway up along the left side of the photo, near my son's hand. Yes, you guessed it: This major excavation project did not take place in our sandbox, but rather right next to it.

We've had a good-sized sandbox for years. In fact, it was the very first home improvement project my then-husband undertook when we moved into the house. (And we only had ONE boy back then!) But while the sandbox has seen its fair share of action over the years, the true magic happens outside of the sandbox.

Forget wishes of a lush lawn. My boys have completely excavated and reconstructed the perimeter of the sandbox. There's an ever-changing channel leading from the edge of the driveway to Fink Pond, the boys' name for the "pond" you see them sitting in above. (That pond has even held fish!)

On nice days, the boys place the garden hose at the edge of the channel, crank on the water, and watch the water fill in the pond as they construct various dams and levees along the way. Sure, they get dirty, and sure, my lawn and yard look less like Better Homes and Gardens and more like Home Education Magazine. But isn't that the point?

My priority was never to have a perfect yard or home. My priority is to raise well-loved, comfortable children. I want my children to have the freedom and opportunity to explore their interests, and when it comes to "perfect yard" or "let the kids dig up part of the lawn," I let them dig up part of the lawn.

Lest you think I"m entirely self-sacrificing here, I'll confess that peace and quiet is a huge part of my motivation. Because when the boys are busy with the water and hose and pond, they're leaving me alone! And, most of the time, not fighting. That's worth a few extra dollars on my water bill, as far as I'm concerned.

What about you? Do you let your boys make messes? Do things they're not "supposed" to do? I'd love to hear about it?


  1. Oh, the things boys will do. When my son was little, I'd see him coming up the street hauling found wood, blocks and whatever else he could cram into the little red wagon. He'd take it in the back yard to make forts or whatever else his creative mind saw. He once started a fire in the garage playing with gasoline and his skateboard. Still not sure what that was all about, and he only told me after the fact -- many, many days later. And then there was the time he took a pocket knife and used it to practice knife-throwing on the wall of his step-sister's room. He used her room because she was hardly there. And she never even told on him. He was always putzing around making things or trying to figure out how things worked. I liked that creative side in him, no matter that it could sometimes lead to no good. But he was also the kid who would sew his own buttons on his shirt if one fell off, make his own costumes for Halloween, and iron his own shirts when he wanted one pressed and I couldn't do it right then and there. Really miss those days, sometimes.

  2. Oh, Jennifer, that picture is priceless! I'm thankful for the property we live on because my boys can ride their motorcycles. I forget that I once wanted a lovely yard but that's not important anymore.

    And I had to laugh about enjoying the peace and quiet. Fighting to be the top dog is a never ending battle.

  3. That's cool that you have all that property, Jan. How fun for boys!

  4. This is the sort of childhood I wish I had. My parents, unfortunately, were neat freaks, and I was neither allowed to get dirty nor tear up our pristine yeard. If I have any children of my own, they'll be able to get as muddy as they want.

    1. You should have seen what my boys did just now -- mopped the kitchen floor slip-n-slide style! (They spread the water and a sm. amt. of dish soap on the floor, donned their swimsuits and slipped around.)