Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Boy, am I Thankful

It’s that time of year again. When we all sit around the Thanksgiving table and list what we are thankful for, trying to get it done as fast as possible, because what we are really thankful for is the big, mouth-watering turkey sitting in the center of the table, and we want to get to it.

In anticipation of this ritual, I have done a little bit of pre-Thanksgiving reflection this year, without the distraction of the savory bird. I am thankful for all the major things, of course. My wife and children are healthy, we have a roof over our heads and plenty of food, and my wife and I have retained a socially acceptable level of sanity through our first eight calendar years of parenting. I say calendar years because, technically, we’ve only had kids for eight years, but we have three of them. When you have multiple kids, I believe your parenting years are actually a cumulative total of their ages. We have eight calendar years under our belt, but nineteen multi-kid years to our credit.

Raising three boys, I often think that there should also be some sort of multiplier involved in that number to account for the additional energy and mischief level that young boys bring to the table. It is probably a draw though, because the parents of girls will surely need a multiplier for pre-teen drama, and teenage dating, and boys, and specifically, that idiot with the pierced nose that keeps being seen near their fifteen-year-old daughter.  

I will take rambunctious and wild over body piercings, boyfriends, and boyfriends with body piercings any day of the week. That leads me to what I am specifically thankful for this year: Shopping for birthday presents. Specifically, boy’s birthday presents.

Son Number One’s birthday is very close to Thanksgiving, so our Thanksgiving week holiday plans always involve some kind of birthday celebration as well. Now, don’t misunderstand. I am not thankful that I have to shop for birthday presents. I hate shopping, in any form. What I am thankful for, is that we have boys, which greatly reduces the time and struggle required to find a gift.

Boys like hardware. All boys like hardware. All boys like anything hardware related. It is a universal truth that does not exist with any other store except the hardware store. Most boys like sports. Most boys like trucks. Most boys like Star Wars. All boys like hammers.

If you are invited to an eight-year-old boy’s birthday party, you can try your luck at Toys R Us if you want. You can get him some Legos, and he may or may not like them. You can get him a football that he may or may not want to throw. You can buy him a remote-control car that he may or may not want to drive around in the street. Or, you can buy him a socket wrench set that he will think is the coolest thing he has ever seen.

In fact, if you were to walk into any hardware store – I said hardware store, not Home Depot or Lowes – and go down any aisle, stop in the middle, turn to your right and point, you will be pointing at something that a boy will think is awesome. You might be in the lawn and garden aisle. Doesn’t matter. He will think that new 29-inch D-handle trench spade is the best thing he’s ever seen. Then, he will dig a thousand holes.

If you buy a boy his own roll of duct tape, he will be as happy as if you gave him a million dollars. Happier, actually, because to a six-year-old, a million dollars and ten dollars are the same thing. If you get him a whole sleeve of duct tape, forget about it! He’ll be so excited, you’ll have to peel him off the ceiling. Actually, with that much duct tape, there’s a good chance he may really figure out a way to stick himself to the ceiling. You have to be careful, there.

Buy him a real flashlight. Buy him some rope. Buy him a chain binder or a come-along. Buy him a conduit bender. Vice-Grips. It doesn’t matter. You want to be his for life? Buy him a five-pound box of ten-penny nails and a claw hammer. Done.

So, this year, among all the other regular stuff, that is what I’m thankful for. I am thankful that I don’t have to shop for girls. If my wife and I ever forget to buy a birthday or a Christmas present, I know that at the last minute I could walk into my garage, close my eyes and point, and come up with a gift that my boys would love, in less than fifteen seconds. Try that with a girl.

I wouldn’t even know where to start with a girl. I get in enough trouble shopping for my wife. Just ask her about the ironing board incident of 2001. I don’t need the headache! I do much better sticking to what I know.

Actually, come to think of it, there is one other universal love for boys besides the hardware store. You can’t go wrong at the gun counter at sporting goods store, either, but my wife thinks I should wait until they’re at least nine before I buy them firearms. Or did she say, nineteen? I can’t remember.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Good topic, Marc!!
    I think it also has something to do with the parents attitude - once we had Katelyn I told Mike that he couldn't treat her any differently than the boys. So ... she got a little pair of coveralls a 4 - her BB gun at 8 and worked in the shop right along with the guys. If you really want to get her riled up just tell her to "quit being such a girly-girl" and then stand back because sparks are sure to fly!!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all your family from all of us!!

  2. Janet,
    You have raised a daughter who would think nothing of changing her own tire. (Or, apparently, pulling her own engine.) Tip of the hat to you and Mike for that! I will try and remember never to call her a girly-girl. I try to limit my spark-flying drama whenever possible! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!