While my three little girls can—and will—fill any given moment with more conversation than a coffee house, my slightly older boys prefer the silence of the sports page and the quiet intrigue of a game of Risk.
When my girls go missing, I need only follow the sound of their voices and I will find them: under the dining room table, perhaps, or in a closet, maybe, but always always always narrating their game with lively descriptions. “You be the mom and I’ll be the cat, okay?” “You be the dog in the kennel and I’ll pretend to put butter on my hand.”
My boys, on the other hand, will wordlessly disappear into the wilderness out-of –doors. They retreat to our backyard fully armed and return only when I fetch them.
Me: “Boys! Did you not notice that it was dark out?”
My boys: “Huh?”
I love it. I love these gender differences and it’s a blessing to have so many different sensibilities to suit my own unique tastes and moods. Do I feel like lace or leg-irons? Polly Pockets or Mars Mission? Sticker books or sword fighting?
Well, lately I’ve been in the mood for war—and the American Revolution in particular. Though the truth of war is horrible, the study of it is fascinating to me. I am thankful for the sacrifices of these men and women at the same time that I feel so safe (and almost cozy) as I read about them. Is that weird? My life is safe and cozy. I am thankful that we’ve won the wars we have and I feel incredibly blessed to be an American.
Ahem. Back to the subject of bonding with my boys. In addition to all the books that I’ve been reading on the Revolution, I’ve been watching one of my very favorite movies of all times, The Patriot.
And I’ve been letting my boys watch it with me.
In general, I quite enjoy any of Mel Gibson’s movies—the exception being the Mad Max series, which I haven’t seen and really don’t feel called to rent—and I will watch them again and again. His movies are violent, yes, and bloody, certainly, but they also have a poignancy and humor that I appreciate.
My boys, it seems, would agree with me. I can get them to do practically anything I want with the promise of a couple of scenes from The Patriot! I’ve needed to edit out some of the more violent content, of course, but for the most part my boys—ages 8 & 10—have been transfixed by the screen and inspired by the story.
They are boys, after all, on their way to becoming men. I do not want to protect them from the reality of war and even when my mother’s heart suggests I do so, my boys will respond with all the testosterone and bravado of their God-given gender.
For example. I was tempted to skip the scene where 15-year-old Thomas Martin was shot and killed. (I thought my boys would be too upset by it.) Instead, because it’s an event that is fairly crucial to the story’s plot, we watched it with my husband (himself an avid hunter and responsible gun-owner).
The boys took the scene in stride, and when the Mel Gibson character emerges from his burning house fully laden with guns and tomahawk, the following exchange took place:
My son: “He looks totally sweet!”
My husband laughed and then paused the movie to discuss it. “Guns are not sweet and war is not cool,” he told them, and they nodded solemnly in response.
Meanwhile, their eyes were shining.
I know that the desire for heroic action is ingrained in my sons, and their passion for battle comes naturally. I love that we are learning about the truths of war (albeit in Hollywood fashion) together…
…and I love letting my boys be…boys.