Grandsons Jake and Christian were here over the weekend and now that they’re gone I’ve caught myself chuckling several times over their antics. Frankly, I’m amazed that boys belong to the same species that I do because they go about life in a totally different way.
Take a walk with little boys and as you’re walking calmly down the road toward the destination, they find boulders to climb alongside the road that you’ve barely noticed. They take short-cuts and then they take long-cuts, they skip and run one minute and they drag their feet saying, “I’m too tired to walk” the next. They throw stones and sing and talk incessantly and ask “how much further?” and then they fall down. They run ahead and lag behind and find a bug and climb a tree and then they lose a shoe. They say, “I can see where we’re going” even when they can’t and then they take the wrong road and they hide behind a rock and then they hitch their pants up and wipe their noses on their sleeves.
It exhausts me.
We were on the way to take cookies to our elderly neighbors as an act of kindness and in preparation, daughter Aubrey had them do a bit of role- playing. They practiced saying “How do you do, Mr. French?” and they practiced shaking hands while looking us in the eyes instead of at the tips of their shoes. They rehearsed answers to questions like, “What is your favorite subject in school?” and “What do you like to do for fun?” They each practiced handing the paper packets of chocolate chip cookies to us and also practiced holding the cookies without dropping them on the ground. They put on their “Superhero of Kindness” capes with the bright hearts emblazoned on the back so they would be in the right frame of mind. These capes are not for subduing the Bad Guys, but for doing good deeds.
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And off we went.
Well, we finally made it down there and all would have been calmer if Mr. and Mrs. French had been inside the house. But, as luck would have it, Richard had a lovely bonfire of burning pine needles he’d been raking. And the bonfire was next to the shore…they live right on the lake. And to his credit, Jake did shake hands and only fell down once and dropped his cookies once before racing down to the water to throw rocks. And Christian held out his hand to Mr. French, but forgot and looked at his shoes anyway and then put his cookies on a bench before he raced after his older brother to the shore. The lure of rocks and water is simply too great for little boys. Aubrey and I chatted for a bit and then I noticed that the rocks being thrown into the lake were growing larger and being raised overhead to get the maximum amount of splash, which is all well and good in the dead of summer. But falling into the lake or getting drenched from backsplash isn’t so great in early April.
So, I went down to take a few pictures before telling them twice to come back up to the grown-ups. I reached the bonfire and looked around to see them still throwing rocks and called to them again. They turned to follow and Aubrey, who had not heard the earlier exchange said to them, “That’s great boys! You listened the first time!” Jake grinned happily and nodded as he made a beeline for the bonfire with a fistful of pine needles. And of course, Christian followed suit as Aubrey raked up more needles. The throwing of pine needles to make the bonfire rage was a wonderful substitute for throwing rocks in the water. And despite June French’s worries, no one fell into the fire as they threw fast and furiously. Jake said proudly, “Now you have less to rake up, Mr. French.” Richard nodded with his bright eyes twinkling. And then the boys raced off to the garden to explore and climb the tree and throw sticks and jump between boulders.
Richard and June gazed after them as they raced up the hill with Aubrey close behind. “My goodness,” said June, “such energy!” and she seated herself on the bumper of the car, leaning heavily on her cane. I imagined that she was a bit envious of the boys as they rocketed around, remembering how wonderful it was to run and jump and play and go pretty much anywhere at lightning speed. And I may be a bit fanciful, but as we chatted, it seemed to me that they grew a tad brighter and a little taller. Their eyes took on more shine. Their voices grew stronger. I don’t think it was due to the chocolate chip cookies. I do think that the boys injected some spark and life simply by being boys.
Oh, for the love of boys! They can torment us and try us and make us want to scream. But, at the end of the day we hold them close to our hearts and cherish them for their unending power to remind us that life is good and the world is to be enjoyed and experienced and cherished. And if we fall down and drop our cookies and lose a shoe….who cares?
Life is rich anyway.