Oh Boy

My husband is paranoid. The other day, I was about to leave for a quick run on our peaceful, tree-lined, country roads when he stopped me to ask, ”What are you bringing for protection?”

Protection? What on earth was this man talking about?

“I’ve got a couple of these,” I offered, holding up two of my fiercest fists.

 

He was not impressed.

“Eamon!” he called out to our oldest son. “Give her your knife.”

Dutifully, Eamon handed me his favorite jackknife.

I was pretty sure that carrying this kind of “protection” in my pocket while running would prove unwise. How safe would it be to fall, stab myself in the thigh, and lie helplessly bleeding on the side of a quiet country lane? Besides, when a bad guy leaped out of the bushes (and of course a bad guy was going to leap out of the bushes), what was I supposed to do — ask him to postpone his attack for a moment while I readied a jackknife in my awkward hands?

Males and females really are different, I have discovered. Especially when it comes to steel-bladed weapons. I first recognized this innate difference between the sexes years ago when Dan and I were newlyweds. Flipping through the television stations one evening, we happened upon a shopping channel selling knives. Hundreds of them.

Tree stumps were carefully lined up before the camera, and each of these was stabbed chock full with the good stuff. Survival knives, I think they called them. Fillet knives, skinning knives, and buck knives with lockback handles. Camo-knives, rubber-handled knives, stainless-steel knives, and some with serrated edges.

The sheer volume of gleaming cutlery was overwhelming. I took one look at the scene and laughed out loud. I turned to my husband, though, and found that he was mesmerized. As he looked past me, toward the flickering screen, it became quite clear: I had married a man. He wasn’t wondering whether we should buy a set of these knives. He was wondering if one set would be enough.

Being married to a man is one thing, but raising five of them is quite another. I remember staring in disbelief at my blue pajama-ed infant son over a decade ago and being overcome with terror. A daughter had been familiar territory, but what did I know about raising one of these?

I learned by doing, though. By doing, I learned not only something about what these boy creatures were like, but also something about myself: that, even if I don’t always understand their inner workings, that even if I might never share their particular passion for switchblades, I love boys. I love their boyish passions, their whole-hearted generosity, and their fiery sense of justice. It is through my own family that God continues to challenge me to grow, to change, and to appreciate more fully the vastness His creation.

I took my sons out to run some errands the other day. Being alone with five boys in the car certainly changes the family dynamic. Here is a small sampling of the important matters we discussed:

  • Whether Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman are actually the same guy or just cousins or something
  • What exactly is inside the middle of the earth, and how we can be sure
  • Which superheroes have heat-ray vision and which have only super speed
  • How many shots from a BB gun it would take to kill a man
  • The minimum amount of money each of them would require as payment before consuming head cheese
  • How we used to know someone who was a super-talented burp-talker, and how come we never see that kid anymore?
  • The manner in which each of them would prefer to be martyred — being burned at the stake or having their heads squeezed in a vice
  • Who could eat more cheeseburgers in a single sitting — the dog or their father

And that was just the first 15 minutes.

I love that these foreign creatures share my DNA. Who can resist this kind of primal bonding? And for that matter, who can resist the charms of a hyper-protective, knife-wielding husband?

Before I left for my run the other day, Dan demonstrated how to flip open the jackknife. You know, for when the bad guy attacked.

“Okay,” I consented. “Now show me how to close it.”

“You don’t need to know that,” my logical man explained. “You’ll leave it in him.”

Danielle Bean

By

Danielle Bean, a mother of eight, is Editorial Director of Faith & Family. She is also author of My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom (Pauline 2005) and Mom to Mom, Day to Day: Advice and Support for Catholic Living (Pauline 2007). Her blog is a source of inspiration, encouragement, and support for Catholic women of all ages and life stages.

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