The comic Titus often said that while mothers try to teach their children wisdom, fathers make them earn it. I totally see this in the different parenting approaches Rowdy and I take. For example, while I might discourage the boys from getting near a flame to avoid being burned, Rowdy keeps his lips sealed, insisting that one round with fire will leave a lasting reminder that fire, well, it fucking hurts.
My sons have a rather passionate relationship with each other. Most of the time it is the kind of passion that prompts one sibling to undergo life-threatening surgery to donate a kidney to a brother or sister fighting off death. They protect each other, they get angry at Rowdy and me when we are disciplining the other, they are best friends and playmates. For the most part, the bond Ridge and Rolan share is as strong as a forest of oak trees.
But then there are other times, the times that they are hooked up like two rottweilers tearing each other by the flesh for a scrap of meat. When my boys decide to throw hands, neither one hold back. This is no holds barred combat, a fight to the death, or at least until someone gets hurt bad enough to give in and cry to Momma. And, normally, when I pull the two of them apart, some rinky dink cheap toy is stuck there between them.
So, when they opened a matching pair of toy bulldozers at my mom's this Christmas, I was like a freakin' psychic, foreseeing many a'thumping unleash over these two contraptions.
Naturally, as the person who birthed both of them, I try to discourage these bloody reenactments of Lord of the Flies. Now, I'm not saying that I think Rowdy actually wants them to claw one another's eyes out, but he certainly seems to create situations that he, as a thinking adult, should see will lead to only that. He is constantly encouraging them to wrestle each other or tackle other or some other activity that 100% of the time leads to out-and-out warfare. Fucking constantly.
However, all this time I believed he just didn't think the end game out, that is, until he showed the boys how to have bulldozer fights. That's right, freakin' bulldozer fights.
A few nights ago, I walked into the living room to see Rowdy, the lone grown-up, showing our darling sons how to ram these disastrous toys against each other until one of them was pushed off the table, making one brother the winner and the other a very pissed off loser. Immediately, I snipped something like, "Have you lost your ever lovin' mind, Rowdy?"
Of course, he insisted that this was rather harmless, that they were just being boys. And he stuck by that defense right up until complete and utter lawlessness broke out.
And as I comforted my battered, beaten and bloody boys, I reminded Rowdy once again that they are, as he had just explained, boys. Their instinct simply is to smack each other with big toys until one of them is bleeding and both of them are bawling.
Then he said, "Yeah, but I bet they remember that it hurt."