Wednesday, July 1, 2009

9 Things Every Boy Needs

1. Destruction
2. Sports
3. Trading cards
4. Video games
5. TV
6. Forts
7. Junk food
8. Underpants
9. Fun

In case you haven't guessed, that list was 100% boy-generated. Boy #2 and a friend paused their Pokemon game long enough to help me after I decided that my list lacked pizzazz.

Compared to theirs, my list is downright boring:

1. A close friend that "gets" him
2. Access to dirt
3. Freedom to get dirty
4. Time to imagine
5. Hugs & kisses
6. Books
7. An adult to show him the world
8. Space to move and explore
9. Animals

But see? That's the difference between adults and kids. If I give my boys everything on my list, they'll be safe and healthy. But as far as they're concerned, their world will lack pizzazz.

Do I think boys need trading cards, TV and junk food? No. After all, boys lived for hundreds of thousands of millions of years without any of those things. For today's boys, though, a sprinking of trading cards, TV, junk food and video games equals fun. It's a chance to do something that's not inherently good for them.

And yet, a closer reading of their list reveals that the boys are right on track. Destruction is a chance to play with primitive urges while learning how things work. Sports are an excelllent opportunity for movement and competition and trading cards exercise boys' math and organizational skills more than any text book.

Video games develop boys' visual-spatial skills while allowing them to experiment with good and evil, while TV is a window to the wider world. Building forts exercises imagination and places the world (or at least a small piece of it) directly under their control. Junk food appeals to their desire to choose, and underpants -- well, do you know any boy who wants to walk around with his stuff hanging out?

Fun, though, is the key. My list is a great list (if I do say so myself), but if I slog through it with a sense of obligation, my boys will still be lacking. So join me -- take a moment today and figure out how you can inject some fun into your boys' lives.

I guarantee you'll have fun too.


  1. These are some really great lists! I am also the mother of 4 four boys, ages 5 to 19, and these items are "must-haves" at our house, too. Thank you for giving readers an accurate glimpse into the minds and needs of boys!

  2. My boy got an iTouch yesterday. That's sure added some PIZZAZZ to his life. If only he'd put it down long enough for me to get a chance to play with it!

  3. I agree with both lists. Got to have balance. :)

  4. Too funny! I am pretty sure underpants would not make my boy's list! But, I am going to try and remember to ask them to come up with a list, you just never know! And I think "candy" would be in place of "junk food".

  5. For the record, underwear was a hotly debated item here. Boy #2's friend added it and my son spent a few minutes trying to argue him out of it. :)

    Also, I'm pretty sure they included candy in "junk food."

  6. I would have loved to hear that debate! (Probably a normal dinner conversation for a family of boys)! Yeah, candy probably does go under junk food, although I am sure my kids think it is a food group. I should probably straighten them out.

  7. I would throw in one thing a boy needs(possibly replacing underpants):

    His Momma.

    Being a daddy, I've learned that when mom is not around, I'll do. When my wife was working I was the one doing the shopping, going to scout meetings, going to school activities, etc. with all four children in tow. I was the one putting everyone to bed. I was the one providing comfort (oftentimes to a child missing his/her momma).

    Now that mom is unemployed it's more like, "Daddy? Daddy who?"

    This applies mostly to Noah, our 2 year-old. He'll grant me a hug and a kiss here and there. I can be an amusement to him. And I can be a source of "freezies". But if there's an owie or any need of comfort, daddy just won't do. It's gotta be momma.

    A boy needs his momma. Underpants? Meh.

  8. Excellent. :) How insightful of you to include "dirt" twice!

    I've been working on a similar list of things female elementary teachers should understand about boys, to share at an upcoming workshop. Any suggestions?

    1. Boys need to move, rough house, wrestle, and occasionally blow stuff up.

    2. Boys need to face real-life adventures, explorations, and dangers.

    3. Boys need to be taught how to do the above things without hurting themselves too badly or damaging others' property.

    4. Boys need to be taught how to feel deeply and express deep feelings.

    5. Boys need to create and build.

    6. Boys need to know that they are valued for who they are, not for their conformity with who we would like them to be.

    7. Boys need wise, competent, strong male role models.

    8. Boys need to get dirty.

    9. Boys need firm, consistent discipline aimed at developing character, not just correcting behavior.

    10. Boys need to be given a chance to redeem themselves when they fail.

  9. Tom,
    I love your list. I've been wracking my brain, trying to think what to add, but it's a great list. As a mom of boys, those are exactly that kind of things I want my sons' teachers to know.

  10. Our boys are dirty and without underpants most of the time. :)

  11. Touche, bugsboysandbooboos. We were camping last weekend. The boys lived in dirt and swimsuits.