Thursday, February 20, 2014

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys

Written by Rachel Balducci, this book is a slightly bewildered look at the hilariously unpredictable antics of Balducci’s five young sons.  How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?  And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys is terribly funny, sometimes poignant, and thoroughly enjoyable. It reads like a blog, with each chapter a new discovery of adventurous and outrageous behaviour, documented with love. It’s a light read, only a slim 203 pages, and grouped into sections (she calls them chapters) with each “bloggish” entry given its own title. The sections’ theme categories range from Proper care and Feeding, (lots on hygiene) to The Other Heroes in Our House (like Chuck Norris) to The Sweet Side (which is just that—how her kids melt her heart, often unsuspectingly).

Here’s an example of her wit:

“Stuff I say that no longer sounds crazy (to me):
-I am not a wrestling mat.
-No, you may not, and if I find a knife stuck in my kitchen cutting board, you will be in big trouble.
-Stay off the roof.
-Why are there blocks of wood cooking in my oven?”

With my own three children, (two girls, one boy) I have also found that I have spewed such things, usually with a note of disbelief and barely-contained laughter.  Ms Balducci sounds like a great mom—someone who will get into gargling contests with her kids (so that mouthwash is fun) and who understands that brotherly love between her kids can be an exercise in pain. Physical pain. Limb-twisting, karate-kicking, shriek-inducing pain. But it’s still love.

She’s attempting to find that balance we all want our kids to have; the freedom to experiment and be creative but always within acceptable limits. As in: “[y]ou can try to invent a jet pack, but I will not buy the fuel for it.” I’ll bet she usually comes close to getting it right. And somehow, she also finds time to write books, too!

I think she brings it all together nicely when she expresses her understanding of her kids’ worldview:

“When they grow up, boys want to be all those things you would guess—a construction worker or a fireman or possibly a superhero. Depending on what powers that would involve.
They want those things for you, too.
One of the boys once told me that he thought it would be cool if I could add a few more titles to my job description.
‘What if you were a mother slash assassin slash double agent?’ he asked, gazing into my eyes as if it were already so.”

As a mother, I have experienced such moments myself—and the sentiment intended in those gazing eyes is pure love and even respect. In that moment, you know you’ve been given an honourary distinction:  Mom, who understands me! In reality, Mom is trying hard to do just that.

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