My boys are crazy about the WWE. It is almost embarrassing to admit that I let this happen or did I? I am not so sure. Is this just typical “boy” behavior? Is there a rule of thumb for what it means to be a boy? I have to say that I am still figuring this one out. For me, it all seems to now revolve around the WWE. Over the past year or so, they have acquired quite a collection of wrestling action figures and WWE toys. I admit I have purchased some of these toys myself, mostly because I love to see their faces light up when they get them. I am easily persuaded by my husband who says they are “just being boys”. But it is more than just toys; the WWE is all-consuming. Ryan and Liam know all their names, signature moves, and the television schedule by heart, often reminding us to set up the DVR for Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown. I am not a stranger to the pro wrestling phenomena. When I was younger, my dad and I loved wrestling. I can still remember my dad in his favorite Hulk Hogan t-shirt and all the VCR tapes we had of different Wrestlemania events. But at what point do I draw the line on this interest that now borders on obsession?
My boys are interested in a lot of things. They love school and going to church. Their bedroom is wall to wall Toy Story and they love their Buzz and Woody costumes. They have buckets of blocks and legos, stacks of books for reading and coloring. There is no shortage of toys and things for them to play with and learn from. And sports….they love sports. Baseball, football, soccer…whether playing or watching. They are all boy and have taken over our apartment, littering the floors with remnants of their pirate play clothes and race cars. So what, I wonder, is the difference with professional wrestling? Why do they act like girls at a Justin Bieber concert everytime they see anything that has to do with WWE? From t-shirts to dvd’s, they want it all. And for some time, we gave in to it. But now, mommy is going a little crazy!
I am a firm believer in make believe and imaginative play. So part of me feels awful discouraging them from “pretending” to be superstar wrestlers. But don’t we, as parents, have to draw a line? I want my boys to believe they can conquer anything and be whatever they dream of being. But I want them to be safe, and not get hurt doing John Cena’s “supermove” or “jumping off the top rope” like Randy Orton. Is that too much to ask? Am I crazy for worrying so much about my boys? My husband is onboard (thank goodness) with the “break” from watching televised WWE events for the time being. We hope that during this time, the boys will learn that their actions have consequences and they will broaden their interests. It is not that we want them to forget about wrestling, especially since we have invested way too much money in the toys and they love playing with them. What we do want is for them to be safe and to learn that not everything they see on television should be acted out.
This all leaves me wondering, do all boys become obsessed with something at this age? Since my two are so close in age, I don’t have the benefit of learning from the first. Most things they seem to go through together so for me there is a learning curve. I always hear the timeless phrase, “boys will be boys”. But what does that mean really? Does it mean that a bodyslam on the bed is normal boy behavior? Do all boys have to get dirty, flex their imaginary biceps, and fall off their skateboard just to prove they are “all boy”? Do all boys dig for worms, love to go fishing, and do cannonballs in the pool? Since I am a girl, I have no clue…but I am learning.
So far, I have learned a lot and I learned that I am not alone. My husband is a great help when it comes to boy stuff. I learned that kids will find something they love and go at it with all they have and it is up to us to guide them in their discovery. My boys will survive if I take away something that I don’t feel is appropriate. Play time can be active, even with a little rough-housing as long as everyone knows the rules and plays safe. Action figures and make-believe really matter to kids and that bumps and bruises are part of growing up. My boys love me and even if I don’t let them watch WWE.
As I write about this I find myself giggling and the absurdity of it all. It is absurd that Liam wants his hair cut like his favorite wrestler, The Miz, and now uses more hair gel than I do. It is absurd that Ryan wants to grow up to be a football player/actor/wrestler like The Rock. But is it? Now that I think about it, it is all a part of growing up. And the blessing in all this is that I am sharing in the learning, discovery and dreaming that my kids are doing. I am curious to see what will come next…and how long this “break” from watching wrestling will really last.