My nephew and son enjoy a good screaming match, something I may never understand. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
On most days, while I’m chained to my desk, my son is downstairs playing with his cousins, a male nine months younger than he is and a female who is almost 4. Although I’m distracted with work, I can hear them loud and clear, especially the boys. Don’t worry, my niece gets in on the yelling, too, from time to time. But the boys act in ways that are unexpected, inexplicable, and downright strange.
Indeed, these two little men are a mystery wrapped in a riddle that I’m trying to solve. I wasn’t expecting to have to be a detective when I was told that I was growing a boy inside me. After all, I have a brother (father to the nephew and niece) who is 15 months younger than I am, more male cousins than I can count, including one who grew up with my brother and me, and I was friends with boys, mostly boys, from elementary school to college. Heck, I’m married to a man. Still, I never realized just how little I understood about the opposite sex.
Here are my observations that are not based on science at all:
1. Boys bang their heads against the floor and walls with wild abandon no matter how much it hurts. My nephew will actually laugh and bang his head against the wall, the refrigerator, and the floor to make different sounds. I’m not writing about gentle taps. I mean ramming his head hard to make the noise as loud as possible. My son finds this hilarious and will sometimes partake but is more likely to bang his head against rigid surfaces when he’s mad about something. Still, the head banging continues.
2. There’s no such thing as using your inside voice. Instead, screaming replaces normal talk. And screaming at one another is not a sign of argument; it is a game. In the photo above, you can see one of the screaming matches that my nephew and Baby Boy find as fun as a day at the zoo. The louder, the better. If we adults can’t take it, even better still.
3. Wrestling is the other form of communication. Baby Boy has delayed speech, which we’re working on. My nephew is on target but is still far less verbal than his sister was at his age. When screaming doesn’t suffice, they wrestle one another. Who gets the toy car now? Who gets the first dish of chicken? Who gets to sit on Nonna’s lap?
Take it to the floor. They pull each other’s hair (not to mention ours), sit on each other, kick and roll around like wrestlers in the WWE. It sometimes takes two of us adults to pull them apart. When we do, they seem completely fine, not even angry at one another. In fact, it’s as if they think we’re crazy for not letting the mayhem continue. It’s just the way they settle things and communicate, no big deal. Huh? Occasionally, my nephew, who is still smaller for now, cries for his mom or Nonna. But most of the time it’s like nothing happened. Nothing at all, at least for them.
4. They are completely destructive. I gave my niece a baby doll and she cuddled it in her arms. My son sometimes does that. But often he holds it by the foot, swings it around, and throws it across the room. We do art projects. And my niece will gently hold a paintbrush and try to make her project look beautiful – and tell us that is what she’s doing. The boys, especially Baby Boy who is a little bit older, will enjoy the work all the same. But they will squeeze the paint tube until it dies or crumple the paper before gluing it to the other piece. Sometimes, within moments of getting a new toy, they break it. Sometimes, these toys look like they’ve been run over by a monster truck. How do little hands manage that kind of damage?
With those same little hands, these little boys have stolen our hearts. They fist pump, and caress their mamma’s face. They give the strongest hugs and their mysterious behavior, although confounding, make life all the more interesting and better than we could have ever imagined. And I’m honored God chose to bless me with this detective badge.
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press Travel) and the Newlyweds Expert for About.com.