Yesterday, I took my three-year-old son to a small play area inside our local mall. I sat there watching as he scampered up the steps, slid headfirst on his tummy down the tree slide, and then jumped off another play structure, the smile on his face spreading wider with each accomplished feat. A little further down on the bench, sat another mom. We had been there for about five minutes when her daughter ran over for a quick hug. As this mom stroked her daughter’s hair, she said loudly enough for me and everyone else around her to hear, “Don’t play with any boys. They are too rough.”
As I sat there soaking in the instructions this mama had just given her daughter, my boy mom heart broke a little. As a mom of two boys, I’m no stranger to their natural inclinations. As an aunt, a teacher, a coach, and a mom, I’ve had plenty of opportunities over the years to observe the type of play boys seem to naturally be drawn to. I know this isn’t the case for every child, but as a general rule, I do think boys play more roughly than girls. In my house, wrestling seems to be an everyday occurrence. My boys have unlimited boisterous energy, and their loud voices echo off the walls. When my house is quiet, it usually means my boys either aren’t home, or they are secretly plotting their next sneak attack. My boys are physical, loud, little dirt magnets, so in some ways, I understand why this mom said what she said.
But here is what I wish she knew.
I wish she knew inside that rough and tumble boy barreling head first down the slide beats a heart the size of Texas.
I wish she knew how many times during the day that rough and tumble boy gently wraps his arms around my neck and tells me he loves me.
I wish she knew how that rough and tumble boy gets tears in his eyes every time his big brother gets hurt because his empathy can’t be contained in his little body.
I wish she knew how that rough and tumble boy plants 10 of the sweetest kisses on his mama’s cheek each night at bed-time.
I wish she knew that rough and tumble boy is becoming one of his big brother’s best friends and confidantes.
I wish she knew how that rough and tumble boy lights up my life and what a blessing he is to this world.
I wish she knew all of that.
Because if she did, I would like to think she wouldn’t try to stop her daughter from playing with my son. I would like to think she would see beyond his sometimes rough boy exterior and appreciate my son for who he is on the inside. I would like to think she would just see another sweet soul, exuberantly living life the only way he knows how, hoping to make a new friend to play alongside. And I would like to think if she knew all of that, she would have zero hesitation about sending her daughter over to join my son for some fun on the tree slide.
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