We were invited to a birthday party/ superbowl party this past weekend by dear friends of ours. They graciously extended the invitation to our children as well. And, they assured us that their own daughter would be there and some other children too. Still, I was hesitant and nervous about taking my boys to this party. It has been my experience that going away with our children is often more stressful than it is fun.
Of course if we are going to an outdoor event where the boy-energy doesn't need to be contained, we're OK. And, usually, events involving family are relatively stress free as well. But, when we are planning an outing that requires a certain amount of decorum or, at the very least, behavior that does not include running, jumping, wrestling, yelling, farting, etc. I start to get nervous. It's not that my boys are poorly behaved necessarily (although this does come into play too sometimes), it's just that they are boys. And, 'bringing it down a notch' as I often request takes a great deal of effort on their part.
I hate to use the old adage, "Boys will be boys". That phrase can be used as a poor excuse for bad behavior. I do want my boys to be polite, considerate, well behaved young men. But, on the other hand, boys really are a breed of their own. I grew up with all sisters. And, although, I spent years and years working with children before becoming a mother, I was still completely taken aback by the reality of raising boys. It's exhausting! Exhilarating but exhausting.
So, when we go away with the boys, I feel like I spend the majority of my time being mommy-cop. I'm hyper-vigilant to make sure they aren't about to break anything, offend anyone, annoy anyone, or create a general ruckus. And, the end result is that I don't end up having very much fun. My husband is much more relaxed about the whole thing and doesn't even seem to notice the misdemeanors his boys are about to commit. As a matter of fact, he can often be the catalyst for some of the excitable behavior. He seems to enjoy getting other people's children wound up too - tossing them them in the air, turning them upside down. All the while, I'm tense...and feeling like I need to be apologizing perpetually for my man clan.
This leads into my dilemna. Do I just need to relax or do I need to instill better social skills into my children? They are young, but this is the best time to teach them, right? Sometimes it feels like it would just be easier to hide my head in the sand in regard to this issue and just avoid it altogether by not going away with our children. But, I don't believe that's the best solution either. So, for now, I tell my boys my expectations for their behavior and hope for the best.