I wrote this post in 2010 for The MOB Society when they first launched. Several of my posts were lost when they had server issues, so I am re-publishing. Enjoy!
“BYE!” My boys took off for next door in a flash, to see if the neighbor girl could play, but they returned almost as quickly. “Katelyn’s mom said she can’t play.” I expected that. Katelyn’s parents don’t let them play with her very often, and she hasn’t been allowed to come over here in almost a year.
I have always known I wanted my sons to learn to play nicely with other kids, I just never thought their main teacher of restraint would be a girl the same age as my youngest son. It’s not that we aren’t teaching them manners, or that they’re little hoodlums. They aren’t.
The issue is one of gender.
Our experience with the boys playing with a girl have been very eye-opening– and we have girls! Katelyn gets hurt whenever they play together.
Every. Single. Time.
The very first time she came over was about two years ago. That afternoon, the boys were hitting balls and rocks with an aluminum baseball bat. D1 was 7 and D2 was 5 at the time. Katelynn was also 5. She hadn’t been here ten minutes when I heard a scream, and looked out the window and saw her holding her head. Oh yes, my son had missed the rock when he swung the bat–and hit– her head. I walked her home with an ice pack on her head.
There have been so many times, and so many apologies. She has fallen off the swings, been hit with rocks, light sabres, and a basketball, skinned her knees–and hands, dirt in her eyes, and had her hand pinched in a gate. And every time something has happened,it HAS been an accident.
The worst time was the last time. I imagine it was the final straw, as she hasn’t been over since. The boys decided to look for bugs under the top row of retaining wall bricks. Katelynn wanted to look for bugs too, of course.
D1 accidentally dropped a 15# brick on her hand. She ran home and the boys came in and told me she went home, and it took some wrangling to find out why.
We had a talk about gentleness, about how girls can’t just take all the bumping and bruising that they can. And we prayed for Katelynn, that she wouldn’t be hurt. Then we went over to see how she was doing. Her mother thought her hand was broken. It was very swollen and she had it packed in ice.
I was so proud of my son though, with his gentle heart (even when he doesn’t PLAY gently). He had tears in his eyes as he gave her a hug and told her “I am so so so SO sorry that I dropped that brick on your hand. Please get better.”
My boys learned accountability, gentleness and responsibility, all from playing with a girl. The best part about it though, is seeing the Lord make them compassionate as they do it.
That part is priceless.
Update, 5 years later: The boys haven’t talked to Katelyn in years. Once in a while I see her ride by on her bike, but considering she’s a 7th grade girl now, she is too busy to bother with my boys any more. She’s growing into a beautiful young lady. I know that the lessons she taught my boys have carried over to now, and it has made them careful with their little nieces! 🙂