Monday, February 2, 2009

Unnecessary roughness?

I recently realized a glaring omission in parental preparedness: I have no friggin' idea how to referee.

When do I break it up? When do I force the apology, the kiss and make up? When is it OK to 'let off steam,' to 'wrestle,' to sigh and shake my head that 'boys will be boys?' I honestly don't know.

The thing is, I never really played sports. It's not that I was too much of a girly-girl - OK, maybe I was - but, honestly, it was more that I was just kind of fragile. I broke easily.

I was little. (5' 2") And skinny. I wasn't coordinated (except in ballet class.) I liked books. And playing the piano. I had glasses. I wasn't exactly first pick for kickball. Or softball. Or anything.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that my boys will willingly participate - perhaps even passionately participate - in sports. They are already physically fearless. They climb. They fall. They hurtle their bodies off edges and at each other. Clearly, I can chalk some of that to the not-yet-developed common sense of all toddlers. But it goes beyond that. They are BOYS. They need to run around and around and around. And they are completely covered in cuts and scrapes and bruises - 90% of which they gave to each other.

I've been trying to live by a simple rule: blood. If blood is drawn, we have problems. Time outs. Stern words. But already it's not enough. After all, biting of any kind is bad (not to mention the inevitable Mike Tyson-related shudder it elicits.) And what about shoving each other in the bath tub? And what about pinching? And grabbing? And pulling hair?

If I don't set careful standards, are they going to be bullies? (Are they already?) Will they be the kids kicked out of kindergarten for 'behavior difficulties?' How do I teach them sportsmanlike conduct if I don't know the rules?

Luckily, I DO have a husband. Not that I'm looking to reinforce gender stereotypes, but at least one of us is passionate about football (Jets), basketball (Duke, Knicks) and baseball (Yankees). He knows the rules. He may have grown up an only child without a brother of his own to pound on a regular basis, but at least he has a keen sense of right and wrong when it comes to the physical world. (not to mention the fact that he can actually throw a ball.)

Perhaps the only solution to this one is pure delegation:
I'll keep kissing the boo boos. It'll be up to hubby to decide what penalties they've earned.