Friday, September 12, 2008

Agitated by the agitator

My sons, being only 2.5 years apart, have a lot of common friends. Whenever one or more of them end up at my house, the noise level doesn't go up by the one or two boys that is added to the mix but by exponential factors instead. It only takes one extra boy to get things really loud. I call this boy, whomever he may be, the "agitator". The agitator adds that exciting element that get my sons all in a tizzy and they realize they aren't just stuck playing with each other. Their conversational tones become screaming matches as they suddenly have the ability to pretend and play games, whereas, when it was just the 2 of them they couldn't find the will or inclination to do just that.

It's not the agitator himself that is the problem as it's just his mere presence that creates a completely different atmosphere. Some agitators are obviously more annoying than others as some kids that they play with just don't have proper manners and haven't been brought up the same way as our kids have. (and I'm sure that some parents aren't fond of our moral guidance as well.) However, as I said, the agitator rile up my kids regardless of whether the agitator is a problem child himself.

The agitator adds the following noises and annoying things to deal with while he's here:

1) As mentioned- the boys lose the ability to keep their voices down. I usually funnel them all down the basement and you can still hear their every word from the living room, even with the television on! Also, it's the type of screams that really get to me. For whatever reasons, my youngest son, Gabriel just seems to start making weird monster noises and grunts all the time. Since children can't really pay attention and are self-centered, they raise their voices in order to be heard instead of waiting until the one child is finished talking.

2) The second annoying thing that the agitator creates is that the gross factor becomes insipidly mind numbing. Puke, pee, poop, farts, boogers and anything nasty and gross is often brought up and laughed about. Now, I myself, have still been known to like a good fart joke. But the relentless unabashed grossness is an unstoppable barrage of unfunny jokes that the shock value is completely lost. Let's face it, farting while someone is eating their boogers isn't as funny as a proper well bred woman making a tiny but still audible toot in the middle of church.

3) Another thing that becomes evident when an agitator is present is that I start hearing doors slam all over the house. The kids can't seem to stay in one place when there's an agitator about. Plus privacy suddenly becomes a issue (despite the fact that they can't keep their voices down) so they feel it necessary to close the door. Since any sense of subtlety is thrown out the window when an agitator is in the house, the doors are constantly being slammed instead of being shut properly. "TWHAM!!

4) The aforementioned inability to stay in one place also creates the need to run and not walk from room to room. The resulting noise is even worse than the door slams- "thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk" (pause) "thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk- THWAM!!!"

5) The last thing that occurs when an agitator is in the house is that my kids suddenly become brash and will talk back to me in a obnoxious manner. I guess the need to show off for their friends overrides their survival mechanism. I do put a quick kabosh to that change in their behavior as I threaten to send the agitator home if they continue to sass me. Yet, they still feel the need to give it a try every time.

I wanted to have a girl at one point, but since we only wanted 2 kids and I'm fixed we won't be blessed with having one. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am more knowledgeable on how to handle 2 boys. I am 2.5 years younger than my one older brother. The same dynamic that I grew up with is the same that my 2 boys have. I listen to stories of my wife's family, as she was the youngest of 3 girls, and I shudder. I wonder if I would've had the ability to handle a girl. 2 boys even with 2 or 3 agitators in the house aren't all that bad despite my complaints. Their predictability is what will ultimately doom them.

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