Gentleman Jack and I had all of our kids together this weekend for the first time in a long time.
Gentleman Jack's teenage son, Carbon Copy (CC), was in summer camp when the rest of us, including Rose, Grace and GJ's younger son, Fireball, enjoyed a week's vacation together in Mexico in July. Prior to that, it had been a few months since the four kids were together.
Now you add to that the female puppy that I've acquired in my household and Gentleman Jack's older male dog... it makes for quite the party!
He has a house full of competitive, rowdy, endlessly energetic and hungry, testosterone-filled boys. My home is filled with mostly gentle, compromising, somewhat quiet, laid-back, tiny, estrogen-filled girls. It is ALWAYS interesting when we all get together!
First of all, Lilli (the puppy) ADORES Gentleman Jack's dog. They play continuously until we separate them so they'll sleep. The kids immediately begin some sort of game when they all get together. Or they'll sit together in front of the TV and watch Looney Tunes cartoons.
But occasionally, they begin to get on each others' nerves.
Things are said. People get their feelings hurt. Fights ensue. My girls pair up against one or both of Gentleman Jack's boys.
The reason for yesterday's post was because I'm honestly learning as much about men by watching Gentleman Jack raise his sons as I did my entire married/dating life so far!
Boys (and men) want attention. They want to feel respect and honor. They don't always know how to gain those things, however, and some of their methods fail on the female gender.
For instance: a man/boy can brag to another man/boy about his toys or feats of physical strength. The other man/boy will be impressed and/or challenge the man/boy with his own toys or feats of physical strength.
When a man/boy attempts this same impression on a woman/girl, she (in most cases) isn't impressed AT ALL. In fact, she may even look the other way and/or ignore the man/boy.
*sigh* This is what I've been teaching my children so far. When a boy is bugging you, ignore him. Gentleman Jack has been teaching me differently.
What I'm learning, in fact, is that when you ignore a boy, it completely throws him off. It hurts his ego. He gets angry and acts out.
Men do the same thing, except his acting out may appear as withdrawing.
Women/girls want attention too. However, they impress each other with creativity, beauty, occasional feats of strength or stamina, sharing laughter, stories and emotion. Women/girls tend to support each other and frankly, push men/boys out. It honestly takes quite a man/boy to impress and get in the inner circle of a bunch of women/girls.
How do I explain this to these boys? They have the best intentions. They just want the girls to like them, think they are the coolest boys around and want to include them in their playtime.
How do I explain this to my girls? They think the boys brag too much or are too rough. They can't handle the boys' constant need to compete with them or each other.
The best part about parenting with Gentleman Jack is that we're alike when it counts and different in the best ways.
He's able to point out when my girls are simply expressing a fleeting frustration with the boys. I tend to take it personally as if I'm forcing my daughters to be with kids they don't like. Gentleman Jack helps me to remember that these disagreements are so short-lived!
I'm able to take a gentler hand in enabling discussion amongst the children, explaining hurt feelings and how to better get along.
After all, they spend such a short time together and not often at all. We''d like them to learn to tolerate and accept each other, at the very least. We''d like them to realize how important this is as a life lesson and to realize that they cannot dismiss each other as temporary annoyances. Because if Gentleman Jack and I have our way, these kids will be like brothers and sisters for a very long time.
Wow! This co-parenting thing is a challenge! I'm glad I have such a great partner with whom to share the responsibility.