Let me start by saying “expect the unexpected”.  As a mom of four (yes, four) boys between age 1 and 9, you realize that just when you think you’ve seen it all…. you are quickly reminded that you haven’t.   Just when you think there are no more tricks in the book of boyhood… you learn about one more hidden page with invisible ink that only a little boy can read and understand.  Apparently, with each successive boy comes each successive new trick of the trade.  This is what you should expect with having boys.

My eldest is 9 1/2.  His personality: highly competitive, perfectionist, and sensitive.  This is a perfect storm of ups and down, and with him being the first, you don’t realize that a three year old who screeches at the top of his lungs when something doesn’t his way, isn’t necessarily normal.  You think “these terrible threes are awful”, instead of “yikes, I should try to figure how to change his mentality”.  Had we known when he was three that his screeching is a little excessive, we would have figured out ways to intervene earlier in life.  He’s a super great kid, don’t get me wrong, but sports bring out the worst in him. 

Sports are highly competitive as it is, but when you have a personality that has high competition as one of the top traits, this makes sports that much more difficult.  Not because he doesn’t enjoy sports, but because he has to win.. ALL the time.  He has to be the best… ALL the time.  He doesn’t have a concept of “practice makes perfect”.  This personality of his says “I must be perfect when I practice.”  This is tough.  A lot of coaches who don’t understand his personality think he’s a spoiled child, but once they realize what kind of child he is, they are usually great to work around it. 

School: that’s a whole other concept.  When you mix in there easily stressed in that top five, you get a child who needs to know in advance when he will need to put down his project and switch to something new.  Now, this could have been partly me: I always made sure to let him know “ten minutes to story time” or “I’ll just be five minutes in the washroom.”  You don’t always realize that you are training your child to expect a warning prior to a change in events.  That’s not how we think as adults, so that’s not how we think a child will think either.  I always thought I was just letting my child know as a courteous thing, much like the first bell at school warning kids to start heading to home room.  Now, that’s not to say I caused that in him, it’s just to say I probably didn’t help, but I also didn’t understand his personality when he was three.  So, he stresses over the little things some days more than most.  He’s a super creative child, and enjoys designing things and drawing alien invasion scenarios with a bit of a robotics flare. 

So, there you have my first personality: the perfect storm of emotional ups and downs.  Now that he’s in that pre-teen phase, it’s also the start of these weird flaps on the floor and “I don’t want to” or “I always have to”, both of which are far from the truth, but apparently normal.  Ah, boys.

My second child is 7. His personality: laid back, quietly determined, social, managerial, and feisty.  He is an interesting child, too.  He is what we call, our little manager.  He would much rather have someone else do the work for him, then to have to do it yourself.  (Don’t we all?)  He is our little socialite-he thrives in the more social environment.  He is also our little scrapper-he was always the one who’d stand up for his big brother and be ready to throw a punch should the need arise.  Today, not quite so much, but when he was two and his brother was four, it was quite hilarious and also comforting to know that he’d have his brother’s back when they got older.  He also excels academically and seems to have a natural flare for all things English (such as grammar, spelling, sentence structure).  He is a very coachable child in sports because he listens, and does exactly what the coach needs him to do.  He doesn’t have that high-competition/perfectionist combination.  He is more interested in the fun of the sport, not just the winning.  

So you’d think he’d be an easy child to raise.  Well, yes and no.  He apparently has decided that when his friends are present, he can say whatever he wants and do whatever he wants without consequence.  He will not think twice about throwing a punch (still), and will worry about the consequence of that at a later point in time.  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him punch his little brother (not hard, but just the fact he thinks he can is enough for me to give him a good scolding along with some undesired workouts).  He is the one that our number three looks up to and shadows.  SO, naturally, whatever he does, little brother does, too.  Whether it’s hopping a chainlink fence, or throwing a ball in the house, or play fighting with big brother, everything he does, little brother mimics.  That part has not yet sunk into his head.   This is what causes a lot of the issues.  “He won’t stop kicking me.” … I don’t know, maybe it’s because you showed him that it can be fun?  Our number two son has been hit in the head with a glass jar (by our number three son) hard enough for him to see stars.  Luckily, he didn’t get seriously injured because the glass jar broke after it bounced off his head. BUT, this stems from the older two throwing stuffies at each other, and younger one not knowing that actual hard objects can hurt people. 

Our number two son is also on his very own time, much like his dad.  Things do not move at my fast pace with him.  It is more like the “I’ll get to it when I get to it” attitude.  This makes for school days that must start with an hour to ninety minutes of leeway time in order for him to get up, for starters, actually get his own breakfast (which he likes to sit on the couch and think about it for twenty minutes first), fix his lunch, change his clothes, and brush his teeth.  This whole process usually takes minimum one hour.  Now, if it’s hockey he has to get up for, that’s a different thing altogether.  Funny how that works, and he likes school, so it’s not like he doesn’t like to go to school–he has to, his personality won’t allow him to be a hermit. For him, it’s just that he does things at his own pace-it always has been that way, so I have had to adjust how much time I need to get ready to go places.

This is sometimes, but not always, the case with our number three son.  His personality, so far as I can tell: care about nothing, limits are for sissies, rules are meant to be broken (at the very least, bent), and anything goes.  He is a loving child, so he likes to get hugs and kisses, but he also is bold and loves to be the center of attention.  This is not exactly the safest type of child to have.  At age fifteen months, he stealthily climbed out of his crib escaping all harm. At the ripe old age of just two, he’s realized that countertops are much more fun to stand on than chairs, and besides, there are many more interesting things inside those top cupboards than the bottom ones.  At two and a half, he’s figured out how to bust the child-safety door knob so he can escape out the front door.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when he realizes he can reach the lock and turn it.  He has figured out that climbing through the screen window on the greenhouse is much more fun than actually opening the door.  He’s discovered that the true reason Rubbermaid garbage can lids exist, is so he can imagine he is sledding down the biggest hill of snow he’s ever seen (aka, the wheel chair ramp at the local hockey rink).  It is hard not to laugh at his antics.  BUT, when he sticks steak knives, and sharp vegetable cutting knives in a 10-lb bag of flour, because he can, you realize he’s a dangerous child now, forget what he was like a week ago.   When he discovers how much fun it can be to cut your own hair.. twice in the same day, you realize he’s probably a little too bored.  When he loves to draw, with marker, on his arms and legs because paper isn’t handy, and quite simply isn’t nearly as fun… you have to watch him around all writing utensils.  When he decides to paint lovely pictures on your nice bathroom cabinet doors… with an old supply of cream foundation, you start locking bathroom doors.  We are probably the only house in the neighborhood where kids get a crash course on b-and-e.  When you have to hide the floss because it becomes just another piece of endless string on this funny roll… you realize you forgot to lock the bathroom doors– you thought he was out of that phase.  I mean, really, how many two-year-olds can actually use a scooter AND hop a chainlink fence?  All in the same ten-minute span? Then, proceed to use said scooter and work his way to the play park using the greenspace trails behind our home.  Needless to say, I’ve already been introduced to one of our city’s local police officers. (And MANY a-thanks to the woman who called the police and walked my child to the playpark to keep him safe until the police arrived.)  

There is never a dull moment with my two year old, who, by the way, also now loves to “help” with dishes and cooking.  He has a personality that I’m thankful wasn’t in my first child, because there would be five years between him and the second, if he was my first. (instead of 19months between him and baby brother)

Baby brother is going to be just as wild.  As far as I can see, so far, his personality is going to be similar to child number three.  How did I get so lucky?  Apparently, you can thank my husband for that.  He said he was a bit wild when he was little (and never really grew out of that until we had kids).  So, for all those single ladies looking for love and looking to settle down, be sure to get the inside scoop on your future husband BEFORE you have kids.  You will almost certainly have one just like him (or two, in my case).   You know, check out the baby stories from mom and dad (if they are around-I was disadvantaged here, my husband’s parents both passed away before we met); ask his friends what he was like as a teen; ask his childhood bestie what it was like when they were growing up.   Do your research.   THEN, maybe give him a yes when he proposes. 

Back to baby brother: he is only one, but I tell ya, he is taking in way too much of what big brother number three has been up to.  He already tries to climb, and just the other day, I watched him reach up to the door knob (we have the lever type) and try to pull on it.  This, by the way, is where our number three started with opening doors (and around the same age).  This is a scary proposition.  I already have nightmares and visions of how number four provides the distraction while number three causes mayhem.  Four boys! …

You know, when I tell people I have four boys, I hear “Oh my, poor mom” almost as often as “So, when are you having a little girl”.  See, it’s trying to have that little girl that got me four boys, so apparently, not everyone is meant to have girls.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.  I know what I was like as a little girl, and how much trouble I got my big brothers into because they wouldn’t let me tag along, or play their games.  BUT, I was their salvation when it came to after-dinner treats.  One big sookie face, with big brown eyes, got us ice cream every time.

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