Boys to Men…

Before we started our adoption, I wanted a girl. I thought it would be so cool to have a daughter. The reason could be due to growing up in an all-boy house and wanting something different. I really can’t explain it. I was ultimately cool with God’s sovereign will in deciding what I got, but secretly, I was routing for the fairer sex.

I remember talking to one of the people at our adoption agency during the process, and she told me that statistically, most people want to adopt newborns (no surprise there) and most people want girls. I would not have guessed the second part. I would have thought that was unique to me or, at the very least, not something that was so clearly skewed in one direction.

When we decided on our five Colombianos, I got the two girls that I wanted, and fathering them is everything that I hoped it would be. I also got three boys. If I can say something without sounding like a terrible person, I was not super excited about the idea of having boys. I would love and care for them, without question, but my heart wasn’t into chasing these three hyper little disgusting monsters around my house for the next 14 years. During the first few weeks in Colombia when we got them, my non-excitement only got worst. I almost loathed having these boys (terrible to say, but honest). It could have been that I only chose to see the things that reinforced my point-of-view, but I was reminded of why I wanted girls in the first place:

The girls would sit and color or play with dolls. The boys would run around and turn anything into a projectile or a weapon.

The girls could focus on one thing. The boys would lose interest within minutes of starting.

The girls were constructive players. The boys were destructive players.

The girls could play in a group and encourage each other to do the right thing. They boys would drag each other down when they played together.

I have to tell the girls something a few times before they followed my directions. I have to tell my boys the same thing ten times as much to get the same results.

It didn’t help much that my oldest son was a bit defiant learning how to fit into the new family dynamic, and we came to blows (literally for him, figuratively for me) several times before he understood that we were in charge, and we were disciplining him because we loved him. A lot of people will say, “I love you, but I don’t like you right now.” That’s where I was with my boys for months. I loved them, but I didn’t like them at all.

That was twenty-nine months in the rear-view mirror now. Looking at my boys today, I can say we have made amazing progress. The same chasm between the sexes is there, but it’s more of a ditch than the Grand Canyon we had before. Case in point – my boys all worked, un-disturbed for nearly seven hours two days after Christmas putting their Lego sets together (constructive, focused, calm, group play). I’m also glad to say that God (and my boys) have changed my heart over that time. The boys are no longer the thing that I put up with to have my girls.

Quite the opposite. If I were in a foxhole at the edge of no-man’s land, and I could pick any three people in the world to be by my side, my boys would be my band of brothers.

Now, I see them in a different light. They are not violent. They are courageous. They are not ridiculous. They dream big. They are not hyper. They are adventurous. They are not foolish, stubborn, or irresponsible. They are tenacious, undaunted, and unyielding when the others give up or give in. They are not heathens. They are leaders and vision-casters.

Beth told me a few weeks ago that God has put boys on her heart, and she was glad we got our boys. She even went so far as to say that if we ever adopt again, she is leaning toward boys in general. I asked her why, and she said, “There are not enough good men in the world, and these boys are going to grow up, whether they are adopted and shown how to be men or not.”

It’s true, and it is almost becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. At our church, men can not change diapers if we work in the nursery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally fine with not doing this job, but the simple fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders and pedophiles are male, and it is a liability issue for the church. Men commit more crimes then women. Approximately 4 out of 10 children in the US are born to unwed mothers, and these children do not understand what a man/father is or have it modeled for them in any way. Even in a two-parent house, the man is marginalized more each day. Watch any commercial that has a married couple in it, and almost without exception, the husband is portrayed as the lazy, thoughtless, backwards, stubborn, bumbling fool that the wife must lead in the right direction. It has gotten to a point in which a man is guilty until proven innocent. Just ask the 2006 Duke lacrosse team. Maybe this is why most people want to adopt girls in the first place…

Boys will be boys, but they need our help to be men. They need our help to know how to be leaders. Otherwise we continue the cycle by declaring them unfit heathens or a lost cause and give up on them before they’ve even got a shot. I was definitely marching down that path myself, but now I see how wrong I was. Boys are hard to raise (I am not by any means saying girls are easy… I’m still wondering how the teenage years will be with them!), but it is worth the sweat equity.

Da boyz.

Da boyz. We made the assumption that the Ninja Turtles traded weapons every once in a while to keep things interesting.

I just want the world to know, there are good men out there. We are not all disgusting animals. We are not all stupid, irrational, gross, and sex-driven at all times. There are good men out there, and with a little prayer and luck, there will be at least three more soon!

At the dinnermesa,

Ty

A Tale of 3 Boys and 120 Square Feet…

“Let’s try to raise our youngest son’s bed off the ground so the boys can have more room to play.”

That’s what my wife said to me a few months ago. It seemed like a simple enough job, but it turned into something else altogether. It was sort of like “Oceans 12” when they decided the easiest thing to do was to raise an entire building 6 inches higher in order to pull off their heist. There were a billion reasons why every plan we made to raise a bed would not work (not structurally sound, boards going across the room, no ascetically pleasing, etc…). After lots of googling, white-board drawings, thinking, and planning, we decided the easiest thing was to blow it all up and start from scratch.

We spent 6 days, and blew our $200 budget by $75, but it is now the coolest room in the house. I stopped Beth just before she asked the boys to swap with us. Here is a photo documentary of the event. In typical before/after comparisons in marketing, we took pictures of the boys’ room before on a bad day when they had not cleaned to make the effect look more dramatic.

The oldest and middle sons' bunk bed. We had white bins underneath for toy storage. This narrow isle between the beds was about 2 feet wide and didn't give enough room to do much other than go to your bed or pull out toy bins.

The oldest and middle sons’ bunk bed. We had white bins underneath for toy storage. This narrow isle between the beds was about 2 and 1/2 feet wide and didn’t give enough room to do much other than go to your bed or pull out toy bins.

The youngest son's bed... There was about 18 inches between the end of his bed and the door, and that was the main play space... no wonder they spent so much time in the girls' room.

The youngest son’s bed… There was about 18 inches between the end of his bed and the door, and that was the main play space… no wonder they spent so much time in the girls’ room.

Every boy had a locker, and the dresser top became overflow space for all their random crap.

Every boy had a locker, and the dresser top became overflow space for all their random crap.

Blurry photographic evidence that I provided a lot of manual labor and the children did whatever they wanted.

Blurry photographic evidence that I provided a lot of manual labor and the children did whatever they wanted.

Here is a picture of the kids "helping" me.

Here is a picture of the kids “helping” me.

Even more kids "helped" me when I got the frame up.

Even more kids “helped” me when I got the frame up.

Then they had to get a good night's sleep from all the "help" they gave me.

Then they had to get a good night’s sleep from all the “help” they gave me.

Finally, it's done. Look! Floor-space, and color-coded bins on shelves to delineate who's stuff is who's. Each boy has a personal shelf by their bed for their own things too. We almost put shelves under the middle bed, but decided that boys, like dogs, are den animals, and need spaces like that.

Finally, it’s done. Look! Floor-space, and color-coded bins on shelves to delineate who’s stuff is who’s. Each boy has a personal shelf by their bed for their own things too. We almost put shelves under the middle bed, but decided that boys, like dogs, are den animals, and need spaces like that.

A different angle for your viewing pleasure.

A different angle for your viewing pleasure.

This shelf was an afterthought that I thought I would knock out real fast one morning but wound up taking 7 hours to do. That's why it is getting its own picture.

This shelf was an afterthought that I thought I would knock out real fast one morning but wound up taking 7 hours to do. That’s why it is getting its own picture.

Corner shelves for toys. A=1/2(LW). A=2 square feet for each. We needed it after losing a lot of space under the beds.

Corner shelves for toys. It appealed to my geometric mind. A=1/2(LW). A=2 square feet for each. We needed it after losing a lot of space under the beds.

We now have a blank wall that has fast cars, super heroes, and sharks for decoration. We are only a monster-truck poster away from having all of our bases covered.

We now have a blank wall that has fast cars, super heroes, and sharks for decoration. We are only a monster-truck poster away from having all of our bases covered.

If you are cramped for space, maybe it will give you some ideas. The boys are pretty excited, and we are less stressed when we enter their room now. Win-win!

At the dinnermesa,

Ty