When I was pregnant with our fourth child, I was SURE it was a girl. It was one of only two pregnancies that we did NOT find out the gender ahead of time. So, to our delightful surprise, it was another little boy. He didn’t look anything like his brother. In fact, looking at them, you might wonder if they were even related. Jake is fair and blonde with blue eyes. Ben has dark hair and skin and very dark brown eyes. So it comes as no shock that they are NOTHING alike in personality either.
Ben was one of those VERY happy babies. Hardly cried. Smiled easily. Still does.
By the time he got to school age, I had had 3 more little ones after him. Life was busy just keeping up with diapers, naps, meals and the house from falling in on itself! I started out having our oldest teach him to read using “100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read ” (resource link below). The lessons start out short and build upon each other, teaching to read phonetically. I have used this same book with all of our kids because it’s so easy to use, an older sibling can teach out of it.
Honestly, how I taught Ben during that time is mostly a blur. I had a basic plan that I did with all the kids. And I am sure that he did it too. But the specifics are unclear. I know he would have done a little math workbook, teaching him to write his numbers and getting him started in the basics. He just continued in the workbooks when we could. Often this meant only 3 days a week. And I don’t think I started him doing much of any of this until he was at least 7 years old. He seemed ready about then.
What stands out in my mind is the fact that Ben LOVED Thomas the Tank Engine. Trains were his life. And when Ben loves something, he lives, eats and sleeps it. I remember he went through a phase of flushing several train engines down the toilet. I’m not really sure why, other than he tended to be somewhat impulsive, often doing things just because the idea crossed his mind. He was generally very quiet about it too. He didn’t cause loud, obvious problems, but then we would find out later that he was up to no good when we weren’t looking. All with a dimpled smile on his face. He would even smile when he was being disciplined! That drove me crazy! My husband concluded that he was just nervous. Apparently he smiles when he’s nervous too!
So it was Thomas the Tank Engine for several years, then he was all about being a pilot. I found a small military flight suit at a yard sale and he wore that thing 24/7 for a few years. It certainly minimized his laundry contribution!
His next obsession was bull riding. He would watch bull riding, talk about it, practice by riding his brothers. He even got to meet a local bull rider who was riding on a national level. This particular phase was a bit concerning to me. I had visions of him getting trampled or skewered by some crazy bull while the crowd went wild. NO THANK YOU. I did explain to him a few times the dangers of this sport, but I couldn’t bring myself to rain on his parade too much. He needed to walk through this.
Finally there was a local pee wee rodeo, where he had the opportunity to ride a real calf. I was excited…until I got there and found out he would be riding a small bull WITH horns. WHAAAAAT!! What happened to “pee wee” rodeo? Turns out this little rodeo is dependent on people volunteering their animals for the day and apparently no one volunteered a small animal for this event. I felt better knowing a friend of ours was going to help gear Ben up and be right there the whole time, but I was still shaking as the shoot was about to open.
Of course, not one single kid who participated lasted longer than a second or so on the back these animals and Ben was quickly bucked off. The only thing that really hurt was a little bit of his pride. More than anything it was a huge reality check. “That wasn’t like I thought it would be.” The sort of stunned expression didn’t leave his face for quite awhile after that. It wasn’t too long before his interest faded.
Now over the course of all this time, Ben was not a bad student. He wasn’t a star student. He certainly wasn’t necessarily keeping up with all the scope and sequence charts (which I don’t read anyhow). He was not a great reader…even at 12. I wondered if he would ever enjoy reading. It was something I had to make him do..at least a little each day. Somewhere around 14, that changed dramatically. He LOVES to read now. If he’s not doing schoolwork or his chores, he can usually be found with his nose in a book. He loves Tom Clancy novels and biographies of current military heroes. He is an avid lover of history.
Ben has a strong work ethic. Because he is more of a people person than a “doer” it sometimes has been harder for him to learn this, but my husband and I believe this quality is very important. We have encouraged and trained Ben to that end and he has risen to that standard. This last summer Ben and his brothers worked for a neighbor. We received a lot of positive comments on what a hard worker Ben is and also what an enjoyable person he is to be around.
Ben’s is all about the drama class he is involved in right now. He thrives in this environment because Ben loves being with people. He loves performing. He can memorize lines like no one I know. He relishes in getting a reaction out of people.
He is currently taking an Algebra class two times a week and it’s not easy for him, but he’s doing it. The teacher has commented on how hard Ben is working and that he an enjoyable student. Those are not straight A student qualities, they are quality person characteristics. That makes us most happy. I’m not saying I still don’t have moments of panic, especially when he is not doing well in a certain subject. I have thoughts that I’ve somehow failed him. But I know that Ben has a code of ethics that he works within. If anything or anyone brings these into question, he goes to the Bible for his answers. This is what really matters, moms.
I have no idea what Ben is going to do for a living. My husband has said that he may be one of those people who has to feel his way to the right career path for him. I don’t think it will involve college and that’s ok. I don’t really care what he does for a living (as long as it’s legal). If he is serving God and loving what he’s doing most of the time, that’s all that’s important.
So, as you can tell, no two children are alike. We cannot predict what kind of child God will give us, nor can we predict what they will do for a living. SO much of this is GOD’S plan at work. So that’s the angle we need to take it from as moms. Pray for your sons, glean wisdom from your husband in understanding them and trust God to work out His purposes in their lives. The story isn’t over yet.