Saturday, November 27, 2010

Running With The Boys/Bulls

There is a strange and crazy tradition in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and even in France called Running With the Bulls. It is a well known tradition, one of which I have no desire to either participate in, nor view. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. One can only imagine the aftermath of dozens of bulls along with hundreds of men, running through the streets, full speed ahead.

Somedays, I wonder if I am somehow an unwilling participant in a micro running of the bulls in my own life. The halls and rooms in my home would be the equivalent of the the streets of the town. The bulls and crazy men-- my family. Each one of us have our own special part in the analogy.

You see, I have three teenage boys, two sweet daughters and a caboose. The three teenage boys, less than three years apart, have become the family thugs. Their new and frequently used saying/attitude is " Too bad, I'm bigger than you, there is nothing you can do about it " ( this applies to food, TV time, video games, etc ). I liken them to the bulls in the streets. They usually dominate dinner conversations, inhale all of the food before the rest of us even realize the prayer has been said, and leave us wondering if we had a meal or a wrestling match. They smell, they are ornery, they make a lot of noise, and they "think" they rule the house. You can usually hear them well before they come through the front door, you always know when they are home, and the silence is amazing once they leave. They laugh loud, talk loud and play video games LOUD. Their music is loud. Generally speaking... they are the herd of bulls running through our home.

Having known many a rancher from my former Wyoming days, most of them appreciate and care about their cattle, just as I care for my teenage boys. I do however remember the ranchers had a lot of land, and even more fencing. The young bulls would push up against the fence to see just how far they could go, just like teenagers are always testing their boundaries. As long as they had plenty of their own food and space, the bulls were happy. Teenage boys: food + space= happy.

Why anyone would deliberately lock a ornery bunch of bulls up over night and then release them while in the process of trying to out run them, is beyond me.
Most normal people avoid bulls, even when they are in a rare but good mood, if that is possible. A teenage boy is much like the bulls. Not that I avoid my children, however, if at any time during the day, all three boys are in a good mood, at the same time, the attitude of " if it aint broke, don't fix it " prevails. Every once in awhile, I do need to stir the pot a bit, starting a running of the bulls in my home. This would include things like chores, scripture study, homework... you know, all of that inflammatory stuff we parents seem to enjoy doling out onto our children.

Now, the girls, they are the innocent villagers who have no choice in the matter. They can only stand on the side lines and watch, or better yet, close shop and go to the beach for the day. I am sure once the villagers return to their homes, it is surrounded by disaster and untold damage. They can only shake their heads and start the clean up process. The girls usually steer clear of the boys, although I have seen them stand up to the boys plenty of times. Sometimes it is charming, most times, tears are shed and the bulls/boys rule the day once more.

Our little caboose, or bull-in-training, has the attitude of the bulls, just not the stature of one, not yet. He is like the little calves I used to see early in the spring. They grew so quickly and there was just a short time where they were " cute " Before you knew it, they were out on their own, playfully romping through the pasture and staking claim on their territory. My last little bull has been a challenge and he tries so hard to keep up with his big brothers -- one day he will catch up, although in his head, he already has.

Me? I am not quite sure where I fit in. Somedays I feel like the guy running as fast as he can, screaming like a mad man trying to stay out of the path of the bulls. Other days, I feel like I actually have some control over the boys/bulls and have them contained, fed and happy. Yet, other times, I am like the villagers, left with a big mess to clean up after the bulls/boys have stampeded through my town/home.

I find myself asking how did I become a part of this running of the boys? Where did those sweet little toddlers go? How did they get so big? So loud? So smelly? So hairy? Will I ever out run the bulls? Or just get trampled over by them? As I look at things, from a balcony in the analogy of my life, I see the greatness of the bulls. They are strong, they are fast, they are determined. They provide entertainment. They take a bunch of middle aged men and get them running and loving life once again ( ie: Turkey Bowl ).

So, like the ranchers, I love my boys. I will continue to feed them, give them space, plenty of room to grow and one day,when I look back on my life, I will have sweet memories of the many times I ran with the bulls.