statue of a fool jester standing on one foot while balancing something on one fingerWe have three boys, all with different personalities yet similar in so many ways. When the oldest was eleven or so, I’d often walk into the family room to find him nearly upside down watching television. There were many variations on the position, but he was always twisted in some fashion, usually with part of his back resting on the floor and his feet on the cushion where most people plant their backsides.

“What are you doing?” I’d say. “How many times have I told you to sit like a normal person? Get up!”

He’d reluctantly stand and attempt to sit on the couch like a gentleman. But within fifteen minutes—two minutes if I left the room and peeked back in—he’d find his way to the floor again, feet on the cushions.

Flash forward. Now I’m experiencing the same behavior with the middle and youngest boys. I look into the family room and they are twisted into the oddest positions on the floor, more like pretzels than humans.

It gets worse.

Whenever my thirteen-year-old does happen to use the furniture, he never sits or rises in an easy manner. If he decides to grace the couch that separates the family room from our kitchen, instead of walking around the armrest like a civilized person, he jumps over the back like it’s a high jump bar, up and over to land flat-out horizontal on the cushions. It should go without saying that I’m tired of the man-to-young-man “discussions” over the move, but let me assure you… I’m tired.

When he leaves the couch he explodes off it, a lightening bolt shooting through the house. If you could view in slow motion, you’d see this: boy prone on couch; glint in eyes as his teenage brain transmits the urgent need to teleport into a different room; couch appears to shoot him skyward like a cannonball; his form arcs several yards through the air until it unfolds to land on the leather ottoman; springboard from the ottoman through the air, head almost scraping the high ceilings; lands on feet with a thud that shakes our entire house and the neighbor’s; another leap and he’s in the foyer twenty feet away; careens off the banister in a 360-degree move reminiscent of a slippery wide-receiver; poof of smoke as he vanishes up the stairs three at a time.

And me? I’m standing there spewing vile parenting threats but he’s already gone as I watch size ten footprints slowly decompressed from the ottoman we paid way too much for. I’m also left with flashbacks of the oldest boy doing the same thing while fearing the day when the youngest starts.

At least I can take comfort my kids will be safe if our family room is ever charged by an ambush of tigers. The boys will be three doors down before my wife and I can blink.

On more occasions than I care to admit, I’ve wondered what type of individuals we are raising. And sometimes, it scares me.

But my perspective has shifted recently, and I’m beginning to believe I’ve had it all wrong. Something else is going on here…

(Continued next week in Raising Fools – Part 2)


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