Really, really bad.
I was surrounded at home by two little boys under the age of 4.
Noisy, active, messy little boys.
Who I loved dearly.
They were (and are still) sweet boys.
They were just noisy, active, and messy.
One day I went in for a prenatal checkup. I saw the new midwife and she asked the usual questions.
How many children do you have?
What are their ages?
Boys or girls?
Are you hoping for a girl this time?
The midwife then told me that she had five children. Three boys and two girls. She said she understood how hard it was to raise little boys. Little girls, she said, are a breeze. They are quiet and play ever so nicely with each other. Little boys on the other hand love to play rough and are always into something. You can never take your eyes off of them.
Now that her kids were teenagers she felt the boys were much easier than the girls. She told me that eventually the noise, mess, and tendency to get into trouble will go away (or at least become more manageable).
Then she gave me the most practical advice.
She said the key to raising a teenage boy is to give him an old car. One that needs lots of work. Tell him that if he can get it running, he can have the keys. She said that a good clunker will get you through the teenage years. They won't come out from under the hood until they are 18. She called it her "teenage boy babysitter."
I thought of that story tonight when I looked out toward the shed and saw this sight: