1.   You can never have enough sticks. As I’ve learned from my sons, you’ll find out early enough that fighting is futile, so sticks are there to stay. It’s not all bad though. Should you need one for a craft project, you have a wide selection to choose from.

boy with sticks

2.   Sitting still is rarely an option. My sons jump, run, climb, punch, kick, and then run some more.

3.   Puddles exist for one reason: jumping.

4.   There is no such thing as trash talking. My boys think of it as matter-of-fact talking. Yes, it causes the best belly laughs.

5.   Hugs and snuggles are welcome, just not in public. There’s always a need for closeness, period. When too many people are present, a tender smile does it. That’s closeness, too.

6.   If it can be taken apart, they’ll do it. My sons’ minds are inquisitive and they love to build.

7.   Clothes are, well, just clothes. In my household, they’re purely utilitarian.

8.   They can sweep me off my feet. It’s the most precious rock of their collection, or a flower they found outside, and it’s for you. Clutter warning: You might never throw any of those gifts away.

9.   This too shall pass, and soon. My sons can be loud and stomp their feet. They push boundaries. And just like that, the wild storms pass and smiles follow.

10.   The floor around the toilet is not for the faint of heart. Tip: Gentle reminders in the shape of silly faces drawn on sticky notes work better than nagging.

11.   A shelter is a must. It could be the sofa cushions repurposed to become an igloo, the dining table covered in blankets, the fort in the backyard, or a hole in the ground. When my boys need a shelter, a shelter will be built.

12.   It’s important to talk as they grow. Boys are often misunderstood. They might have trouble expressing their emotions, which is why it’s good to name them as your little boy grows and encounters them.

13.   Tough is not the opposite of tender. My sons play tough. They clench their teeth and they get tougher by the day. Yet their hearts carry much softness, too. I know they’ll grow up to be strong men with hearts of gold.