No. Its not the sound of builders. Or the latest video-game. It’s the sound of my son.
“Will you please stop kicking that ball against the sideboard?!”
Every day this winter, the Boy likes nothing better than to kick his light-weight football up against the inside front door, or sometimes through it, using the porch as a make shift goal. Most of the time I’d say I’m pretty tolerant of the noise and occasional tumble of paperwork off the side board. But occasionally it just gets to me. The ‘keep things nice and tidy me’ returns, my patience wears thin and I yell at him to stop.
You see, about a year ago my then 7 year old became obsessed with all things football. You know, that normal evolutionary development of the human male-child species at that age. In September, when he turned 8, he joined a local youth football club and joined a team of 8 boys, run by the dads (some more enthusiastically than others…). ‘Football dad’ is a title that the OH has accepted a tad grudgingly but most definitely dutifully: the love for his son has, incredibly, won over his bias for “proper Aussie Rules football”.
And so this winter, all he’s wanted to do when he’s not in school is kick a ball about. Or play Minecraft. Or read. But that’s a post for another day.
We have a smallish house, but thanks to the previous owners knocking down the hall wall, our sitting room is slightly larger than average, affording The Boy space to kick a ball against the inside front door.
Crash. Bang. Bang.
I’ve decided to take a pragmatic view and let him do this because a) our furniture isn’t that precious b) he can’t play outside with other boys as there’s no boys to play with on our road and its a busy-ish road, and c) its a light-weight ball that (generally) does no damage (she says, crossing her fingers and hoping our paper shaded lamp stand lasts the winter…). Gee, the boy’s a boy. Let him be one for an hour a day, I reckon. School hardly lets him.
But the crashing sound really starts to grate after a while. I start to consider myself crazy for allowing this indoor football nonsense and screech for it to stop. We do have a curfew time, at least. After 7.30pm its “No indoor football!!” I declare, swiping the ball away and placing it up next to the cake box where he can’t reach. Yes, that’s it – cake & football, the two loves of his life. My 10 yr old daughter is also known to hide the ball regularly to stop the irritating sound punctuating her ears leading to quite amusing scuffles between the two of them.
But this obsession with football has been accompanied by other defining changes in him. Gone is the little boy who willingly sits on your lap, or pesters you with ‘Mummy’ every 60 seconds, who smiles when you kiss him good morning/good night, or hugs you back when you hug him.
I know its totally normal. That its all part of that critical ‘change’ in boys around this age.
But the lack of eye contact, the gentle grunting, the shrugging of shoulders when I correct him, and the incredulous “Yeah, Mummy, didn’t you know that?” knowingness, seems to have come like a thief in the night, stealing the ‘little’ in my boy.
I know, I know: he’s not gone, or stolen. He’s just different. He’s growing up. He’s expressing himself differently, and aligning himself with his peers, and his dad, not me. He’s not generally rude, impolite or uncaring, and so I should have nothing to complain about. But it is still hard.
When I get the chance to sit next to him on the sofa whilst watching TV, I sneak in a cuddle, drawing him into my side, and he responds. I treasure those moments.
Parenting is like being on an airport travelator: kids never stay still, always changing and evolving, and right under your nose. Rather infuriatingly, they rarely, if ever, change in the same way as their siblings. So we’re constantly having to adapt and dance a new tune, just as we thought we’d sussed out the last one….
Crash. Bang. Thump.
Boy, I simply can’t wait for spring when he can kick that darned ball outside……