Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Gaming the old fashioned way? June 24, 2011

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A quite fantastic thing happened the other day.  The men-children, and sister of a man-child and me all sat down together after dinner and played a game.  Not just any game.  It wasn’t electronic, it wasn’t on a PS3 or an iPhone, it wasn’t on the TV or the internet, it was a good old-fashioned BOARD game!!

Now this board game wasn’t old fashioned to me, it was Pictionary.  But my kids had never seen it would you believe (or the men-children might have when they were small but they couldn’t remember it).   And certainly it’s way older than the seven-year-old.  So it was exciting and “new” in a strange sort of way.

We found the game a few weeks back in a couple of boxes we pulled off a top shelf.  It’s amazing what you find post-renovating when you decide to reorganize the house.  The kids had a ball looking at the stamp and coin collections that had belonged to my husband and me as kids.  We even found my old swap cards (who remembers Blue Boy?) and some old footy and collectible cards that had belonged to my father.  (BTW, turns out those old 50’s footy cards are worth about $30 EACH!!!).

So the board games had been sitting in the box on the floor (okay, I haven’t put everything in a new place yet) and I had been meaning to actually get the kids to play some of them.  So on Sunday night I asked the boys if they’d play with their sister and me for a short while (mention anything longer than 30 minutes and you’ll only see dust).

I am delighted to tell you we actually had a lot of fun.  We pitched the men-children against Mother of a Man-Child and Sister of a Man-Child.  That seemed fair, and actually we girls held our own easily.  The funniest thing was playing a game that dates from 1985 – it’s the first edition actually.  There were quite a few words none of the kids even understood (e.g. garter belt, punk rocker, bell bottoms, fondue, Mrs Thatcher), so we would just pick another card.  And I was also amazed to witness the different skills for each of my children and to see who can a) draw, and b) think laterally enough to guess what a doctor’s stethoscope is when it’s drawn very, very badly!!!  And oh, there’s not a competitive bone in their bodies (yeah right). 🙂

I’m not sure if we’re unusual, but how long is it since you played a board game as a family?  Let me guess, on holidays at the snow when they have no TV’s at all (yep, there’s a lodge we stay at where there’s no TV – it’s fantastic), or on holidays in Queensland, when it’s raining and you can’t go to the beach and you’ve watched all the DVD’s and the kids find an odd assortment of board games with missing pieces?  Or you pull out the playing cards for a round of poker or snap?  We used to play games a bit at the beach house, but often with the adults after dinner – it was a ritual of sorts.

I do play board games with sister of a man-child from time to time at home, but after our Pictionary experiment I think we should endeavour to work our way through the boxes of old games on a regular basis.  It was such a nice opportunity to have the kids all doing something together and the family for the matter (if you’re wondering Father of a Man-Child was let off the hook last week, but he won’t be again).   With a seven-year age gap the men-children and their sister don’t have a great deal in common as you would imagine, so I like the chance to do these things.

It’s the stuff that memories are made of for me, and I’m hoping it will be the same for our kids.  I can still remember learning to play 500 when we were about 14 years old on one holiday.  We became so obsessed with it we played for hours and hours, day after day – our parents must have been thrilled at their ingenuity.

So pull out the Monopoly, or Pictionary, or Cluedo and get playing!  I promise you’ll have fun!


Mother of a Man-Child: Planes, Trains and Automobiles! June 17, 2011

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As I publish today, one of my men-children has been stuck in Adelaide for the past week, thanks to the qualms of nature and a certain volcano spewing ash across the globe.  What started out as a long weekend away for a teenage party has turned into a week-long stay – who would have thought!

Such is the irony, that having initially been stranded in Adelaide due to the closure of Melbourne airport, the ash cloud then travelled backwards across Australia to Adelaide airport, grounding my son and his friends for even more time.

For the first time ever (and never again) he flew Tiger Airways.  Yes, very cheap and god-awful flight times, but who cares when you’re a teenager?  Except when there’s been an Act of God that closes the airports, and suddenly the “busted-arse” airline has NO priority in the aviation skies, and so no planes can get off the ground.

So after expecting our darling man-child home last Monday (I admit I was looking forward to seeing him even after 3 days) it’s now Saturday (at best) before we will see him.   Naturally buses and trains have been explored, but as you would imagine they’ve been booked out, and I’m not that keen on teenagers doing that without adult supervision, so we’ve decided that the fall back is now Father of a Man-Child and another Dad driving to Adelaide and back to bring the boys home, if all goes pear-shaped again on Saturday.

Whilst I am missing him, naturally Man-Child II is delighting at missing school and spending time with a family who apparently like him so much they’d happily adopt him!  Regardless of how they behave at home (typically badly), all is forgiven when you learn from another parent (and I quote) “Man-Child II has been amazing…Dishes in sink, making bed, helping out…Tidying up after the party.”  Why is it that none of that happens here at home?

Naturally as time has gone on, I’ve shuddered to think that he didn’t take the bath towel I asked him to take, and only had two pairs of jocks, but I know that they’ll be well looked after, and just be treating it as a “camping” trip = minimal hygiene required.

Before Man-Child II had even got on the plane to Adelaide a week ago, I should have known there was trouble brewing.  I had the host mother on the phone just to confirm if it was true that I had given my permission for my son to have his eyebrow pierced (his mate was opting for the lesser ear-piercing).  I said absolutely NOT, but feel free to let him know that if he has his foreskin pierced then he can also have his eyebrow pierced!  With much hilarity we both agreed that given this option he probably would. 🙂

That didn’t stop Man-Child II texting me furiously to try to convince me why he should be allowed to have the piercing.  Needless to say I remained adamant it not happen, both verbally, and to ensure no “misunderstanding” via text  – I guess time will tell!

All said and done it’s been interesting to have Man-Child II away for the week.  The dynamics of the house have changed significantly – sister of a man-child has no one annoying her, and Man-Child I has no one to fight with – it’s been positively BORING!  And I admit, I’ve missed him as I do any of my children when they’re away for an extended period of time.  As they say, absence does make the heart grow fonder – but only if it doesn’t have an earring in it!!



Mother of a Man-Child: Testosterone Power Surge in Melbourne Suburb! June 10, 2011

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If it was possible to measure the output of testosterone in males, I swear my boys would be world record holders and probably blow up any machine that attempted to gauge it.  Such is the surge of testosterone in our house I can almost feel the electric-like current running through the place sometimes.

I grew up with three wonderful sisters – yes, one of four girls.  Naturally I always wanted brothers and envied my friends who had them in spades.  I therefore thought it was appropriate that my first-born were a) twins, since I am one myself and b) boys, since I had no brothers and was a complete tomboy as a child.  Some would say it served me right!

When my men-children were growing up, we always joked that our gorgeous boys were really just like dogs – always happy when outdoors and definitely better behaved after a good run in the park.  Growing boys just seem to need to burn off some of that energy and testosterone which courses through their veins during key phases in their life.   This is in stark contrast to raising girls, as we learned with the adorable sister of a man-child.  Females are just so different to males, but both equally enjoyable I must add.

Now the men-children are enduring yet another testosterone surge during adolescence, they don’t seem to be able to burn the hormones fast enough to keep a lid on it.  Even with sport virtually every second day, they seem to have plenty in reserve.   Which means that most nights they use it to “play-fight” amongst themselves.

Those of my readers with brothers will know what teenage boys play fighting looks like.  Others of you without brothers or men-children might be surprised to know how severe it can be.  “Play-fighting” by its very name sounds like light wrestling, some muted punches, a bit of nudging, and general pushing and shoving.  But no, that’s just the appetizer for my men-children!

Play fighting in our house involves two 15 year olds literally holding each other in death like grips, using every ounce of their strength in order to deliver harm to their opponent.  I kid you not I once found them entwined, one with legs wrapped around the other, and one in a choker hold, and them thumping each other on the ground to try to extract themselves from the other’s grip.  Neither would give up – no wonder they’re good at competitive sports!  I am still waiting for the hole in the wall, an elbow through the new TV, or a head split open on the corner of the coffee table – it just seems inevitable sadly.

The other night, having listened to the dulcet tones of play fighting from upstairs (yep, all we’ve done is move the noise and testosterone to a new location) I ventured up with the intention of putting an end to it.  I then made the stupid mistake of getting involved – bad idea, when I’m a) shorter, b) lighter and c) prone to excitement and extreme frustration.  All I ended up doing was screaming, getting madder, and earning a physical injury myself.  The lesson for me – I cannot physically win anymore – do not even attempt it (although hair pulling works as a last resort – for some reason they find this EXTREMELY painful)!

We had play-fighting again the following night, and they literally made their way downstairs as they fought.  So I tried a new tack – I threw them out of the house – the freezing winter air in Melbourne soon cooled them down, and took the heat out of their aggression.

Is this normal behaviour?  I think so, or at least I hope so.  It’s probably exacerbated by them being very different personalities.  I recall my girlfriend’s brothers once chasing each other around their kitchen table – I was sure they would kill each other, but I was probably only 10 years old so it made a big impression on me.

Will they be the best of mates one day?  I think so, or at least I hope so.  The testosterone will slow down its relentless pace and the aggression will give way to mate-ship and a lifelong bond between brothers.  Now that would make me happy. 🙂

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Mother of a Man-Child: Can you be Facebook friends with your kids? June 3, 2011

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I love Facebook.  Those of my friends on Facebook know I’m pretty active and I like to share various things with my connections, whether that’s a strongly held point of view, a cute something my daughter said or did, or even my blog posts (clearly since I write this blog I am probably what some would call an “over-sharer”.)

I like sharing, and I like my friends sharing with me.  Whether it’s the minutiae of their life, or a significant life event, it’s a great way to stay in touch with lots of my friends, family and past colleagues that I wouldn’t otherwise catch up with, whether they live around the corner, interstate or overseas.

My men-children have been on Facebook for a few years now.  Naturally they have amassed a huge number of “friends”.  One has almost 500 friends and one over 900 friends.  Now obviously the term friend is used pretty loosely when it comes to Facebook.  I mean really, how many of them are real friends as opposed to loose acquaintances who just happen to be on Facebook.  And let’s face it (like that pun?), Facebook are doing a very diligent job of late trying to “supersize” us all by shoving every random, vague friend connection down our throats!!!  I too could amass a vast number of friends if I really wanted to.  Just like on twitter (a load of twat I hear you say?).  I mean how many followers is too many – 8000, 20,000?

What is always interesting for me is whom my men-children choose as friends and more importantly whom they don’t.  I know my boys are friends with their cousins and even some aunts.  But they wouldn’t dream of being friends with me, or their father for that matter.  I’ve noticed one or two of my friends who are actually Facebook friends with their teenage kids, but that’s the exception not the rule (they are obviously VERY cool parents!!!)

So it was with some amusement that a couple of my son’s friends sent me a request to be their friend on Facebook last night.  At exactly the same time! Hmmm.  I immediately thought they were having a joke at my expense (they probably were).  And then I thought okay, why not?  Then at least I can see what they write on their walls and what my men-children write back.

So I accepted their friend request.  An hour later my son came downstairs to tell me I had to “un-accept” their friendship on Facebook.   “You can’t be their friends, you’ll see what we talk about” he protested.  Yep!  So he accessed my account and organized for our short Facebook friendships to end – but not before I’d had a quick look at the walls and checked out the minutiae of the men-children’s lives – it’s dead boring really!

Assuming that Facebook is still around when they’re “adults”, I am confident I will eventually win true Facebook friend status with my sons.  For those who can’t imagine life without it, just think of MySpace (Mywho???).

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences on Facebook?  Am I alone in having children who couldn’t possibly befriend their mother on Facebook?  Are you friends with your children, or nieces and nephews?  What would you do if you saw something inappropriate?  Stay silent, tell their parents, or comment on their wall?  I know it would take all my discipline not to say something if I was friends on Facebook with my men-children, so maybe it’s for the best. 🙂

PS.  A chance conversation with father of a man-child just alerted me to the fact that he is in fact friends with one of our men-children.  What!  How did I not know this?  I have a lot to catch up on……who knows what stories and secrets lay hidden in the pages of Facebook?  LOL.