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    An Interview with Experience: Cindy of Ordo Amoris (Part II)

    August 17, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Yesterday, I began posting this (three-part–I decided to make it three) interview, so if you are interested in an indepth discussion of Morning Time (what I call Circle Time), you can check it out here. Today, we’re going to get a glimpse of Cindy’s unique expertise, the raising of boys. Cindy has eight sons (and a daughter), so I am assuming she’s seen just about all there is to see when it comes to the males of our species.

    So here we go…

    • Did you allow your boys to wrestle with their sister? How can we learn about proper relationships between sisters and brothers?

      When they were little Emily might have jumped in on a playful wrestling match but they are never allowed to physically touch her in that way. As a matter of fact, we have a rule that is dealt with often for all of them not just girl/boy: “No physical touching.” If any argument ends with some sort of physical touching then before any tale is told the person who physically touched the other person is punished. We say “physical touching’ because the boys were very creative when we said, “no hurting or hitting.” Now all it takes is touching to get one in trouble.

      As far as brother/sister relationships go, it helps for Dad to model that to the boys. The original Sugar Creek Gang books were very good at communicating that girls are to be treated special. I found that this is more confusing for the girl than the boys. The boys may be offended that their sister wants to wrestle so it is confusing for her when she tries to jump in. This is more an issue with little girls. Older girls generally don’t want to wrestle. A girl should probably only join the wrestling when a parent is in the room since there is a good chance she will get hurt before the boys do and I would not want to confuse the boys. They probably should never wrestle with their sisters when a parent isn’t present.

    • Can one do baseball without it taking over life? Or, is it ok to let it take over life for that season? And, have you had to deal with the games-on-Sunday issue?

      In Alabama and now Tennessee, they don’t schedule youth baseball on Sundays generally. That helps a lot. We have never been strict sabbatarians but we try to avoid Sunday games. The older boys did play on an adult league this summer and they played mostly on Sunday afternoons. I am not too happy about that but they are all over 18 and I am not their personal Holy Spirit.

      Other times we have only let the kids play on Sunday if their team was counting on them in an unusual way. I know that is weak but there it is.

      Here is what we do to try and keep baseball in check: We rarely play All-Stars even though the boys are almost always eligible. I would love summer baseball but it isn’t practical for us. Usually the boys end up being alternates and playing a tiny bit without having to fork over the ghastly travel ball fees. We don’t always play fall ball either. We have at times and I enjoy it but it can be daunting. You have to be willing to look at your family honestly and be strong enough to say no. I don’t mean say no to your kids but no to the other forces pushing them to play. From February-May baseball is king of the family and I love it. I love sitting outside soaking up the sun and fresh air. I love all 9 innings of a baseball game. I love hating the umps and dissing the coach. But then it is over and it is time to rest for a while and not let the sport become a 4 season one. As a tiny little baseball brag, one of our sons did get a call back from the Atlanta Braves after a tryout recently. We are not expecting anything to come of it but it was exciting. Especially since he never played travel ball, the new great American parental pastime.

      That covers the playing of baseball. We won’t discuss fantasy baseball or watching MLB on the computer.

    • How do we know when “normal boy” behavior leaves off and bad behavior begins? Any rules of thumb in dealing with boys?

      One key is bullying. Teasing, bantering, wrestling for fun, are all O.K. but when one child begins to bully another it is unacceptable. I would say trust your own intuition. There is a fine line but don’t be afraid of it. Many mothers err on the side of thinking their little darling would never harm anyone so they revert to the boys will be boys thing. Other mothers err by being shocked by the merest hint of masculine behavior. In a way they spiritualize femininity and therefore view normal masculine behavior as sinful. Masculinity is by nature thoughtful of weakness, protective. One question you can ask to determine whether the behavior is appropriate or not is whether or not it was motivated by a spirit of protection or just selfishness. Also watch reruns of Leave it to Beaver. Lot of common sense about boys in that show.

    • Have you ever had to deal with one of your sons that is emotionally and physically very sensitive, and if so how did you teach them to self-calm and be a functional part (instead of a huge distraction) of a large family?

      YES!! Right now I would say that I have 2 sons that fall into that spectrum. It requires several things. One is patience and two is prayer and you will really need that tool because sometimes after dealing with an emotional person it seems like the whole world is crashing in but with an evening of prayer and the light of a new day things brighten up.

      The goal that I am trying to teach my younger son is to laugh at himself and not take himself so seriously. We talk about this all the time. Daily. He can’t quite do it but he is beginning to see where it needs to be done. In a large family of boys he has made himself an easy target. I don’t always stop that either. Part of the beauty of a large family is that members learn not to take themselves too seriously and teasing and banter are part of that. Admittedly, this horrifies some visitors to our home. My job is to make sure that the banter and teasing don’t become bullying. Bullying is ugly in every form.

      I have another son who is more high maintenance with a history of dramatization. We have worked, prayed and loved this child for years. We have tried tearing him down and building him up and I believe both have their place. This year things have finally calmed down. We see some maturity. A few weeks ago something happened on Facebook and he laughed about it. I was absolutely shocked. I told him how impressed I was that he had laughed at himself on Facebook over something that could have been humiliating. Several things have helped us over the years with this child. Exercise. This kid needs more than most. He is not good being cooped up all day. Enough sleep. If I see that he is overly tired I try to avoid confrontation and encourage a nap. Sunshine. He is probably doing so well this summer because he is in the sun all day long. I plan to make sure that happens in the winter somewhat. Physical love. I try to touch him and hug him frequently because often I am having to rebuke him and I don’t want that to be all I ever do. Listening to him privately. This is the hardest part and I often fail but when he sees I am really for him and not against him he can take my rebukes with a better spirit. Seeking outside help. At one especially painful point our pastor stepped in and counseled our son. I think it helped in two ways, the obvious time with the pastor but also the fact that we WERE going to deal with his problems and not just pretend they didn’t exist.

    ***

    That’s all for today. Tomorrow, we’ll finish up with some questions about being a home educating mommy. Don’t forget that you can access Cindy’s blog, Ordo Amoris, for more insight. Update: Read Part III.

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    2 Comments

  • Reply wayside wanderer August 18, 2010 at 1:14 am

    This was great. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply Kimbrah August 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks for doing this Brandy. That was really helpful and encouraging. 🙂

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