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Boy-sterous Living

Title: Boy-sterous Living
Author: Jean Blackmer
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press

I remember a really silly (read: incredibly stupid and dangerous) thing I did as a boy of about 7 or 8. At this tender age, I climbed up onto the garage of our rental home in Ryley, Alberta, and decided to find out if I could fly like Superman.

Turns out, not so much. For my trouble, I did get a lecture and twisted my ankle quite well (didn’t break, amazingly).

Why did I embark on this endeavor? To see if I could.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s like to be a boy. And that is what Jean Blackmer loves about being the mom of boys.

Blackmer’s book, Boy-sterous Living, is a letter to moms everywhere. She understands that raising boys can be incredibly frustrating; after all, you never know when you’ll find one peeing in the yard, blowing up a toilet, setting off fire crackers on a neighbor’s porch, or some other thing that really only seems to be a good idea in the mind of a nine-year-old boy. But As frustrating as boys can be sometimes (I know, I was one), they’re also a heckuva lot of fun!

Reading this book was particularly interesting for me because I’m not part of the target demographic. I’m not a mom, nor am I woman for that matter. I’m the father of a two-year-old girl. In some ways it was a bit like eavesdropping on a conversation between ladies (something boys do sometimes with their sisters, by the way).

From reading the book itself, I could tell that Blackmer loves being a mom—and specifically, being the mom of boys. She captures the excitement (and tension) that boys can bring very well, as she relates tales of her sons’ (and sometimes husband’s) adventures. Whether it’s target practice with an air rifle and turning the front lawn into a reenactment of Hitchcock’s The Birds, or the previously alluded to episode of blowing up a toilet, Blackmer relates the stories with a great deal of humor and, sometimes, a longing to have been a part of the escapades herself.

What you won’t find in this book are poor attempts to explain raising boys from Scripture. Indeed, Blackmer treats Scripture references in a way that is very appropriate for the book—as personal devotional. In doing so, she taps into a special meaning the verses cited have for her, rather than as an attempt to teach the Bible.

One thing that really impressed me: Blackmer consistently managed to avoid “doofy husband” territory. She does a very nice job of portraying her husband, Zane, as a real man who thinks about more than two things and can tie his shoes. I can’t tell you how important it is for a boy to have a healthy view of his dad, and I’m grateful that her husband is (based on her accounts) a man worth her sons’ emulating. The chapter directed at husbands was also particularly well handled.

One thing that troubled me: Occasionally, there’s a sense of what I’ll just call “Mom-olatry.” What I mean by that is the portrayal of moms as superhumans who don’t actually need the help of their husbands in raising their children, because they’ve “got it all covered.” Blackmer does women a wonderful service by telling them to “let” their husbands help, but I wonder if the issue would have been better served by going into the root causes of this attitude. Perhaps I’m misreading, though.

Boy-sterous Livingis a very entertaining and thoughtful read, and I would recommend it with little reservation. Blackmer does a great job of proving her point: Boys make life delightfully unpredictable.

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