How to play Mumblety-peg Pocket Knife Game

Source of Photograph: Library of Congress. Boys playing ‘Mumble-the-Peg’ Peekskill NJ 1917 LOC 24912u

Moms, you want your son off video screens – right? One way is to give him something he can do with his hands. For boys who have learned to be responsible there is nothing like a nice pen knife to spend hours fiddling, making small lashed items and playing Mumblety-peg.

The game Mumblety-peg has nearly been lost. And I don’t mean the modern version which requires throwing a knife as close to his foot as possible, then stretching out his foot to touch the knife until one of the two contestants can’t stand anymore. And I certainly don’t mean the new game where a boy stabs the knife between his fingers, faster and faster until he stabs himself or chickens out or can’t go any faster. Instead, I am talking about the game from the 17th century.

Here is the description from Encyclopedia Britannica: Continue reading

Can a Boy Be Too Wild?


Wild at Heart is a book by John Eldredge in which he began a conversation about the role of masculinity in the Evangelical Church. It was needed in 2001, when the book was first published, and is still needed today.

If you know me or read this blog you know I strongly believe that we need to allow our boys to be “wild” and develop their masculine side. But can boys be too wild? Can wild go from “healthy” to “unhealthy?” Lets rephrase the question.

If you ask “can a boy be too masculine?” I say “no.”

But if you ask “can a boy be too macho?” I say “yes.”

Can a boy be too crude? I say “yes.”

It is time we begin to allow true masculinity to flourish, and separate it from crudeness and foolish macho behavior. I don’t believe for a moment that to be a true gentleman a boy has to give up his masculine side.  He has to be taught when and where certain behaviors are acceptable. He has to learn self control of his masculine side, not total denial. Continue reading

Free Movie Alternatives to Today’s Options

Honestly, some of today’s movies are fun. But others are filled with gratuitous violence, sexual innuendo or worse, and anti-christian themes. So what does a parent do? Believe it or not, there are hundreds of free movies produced over the previous decades that are available free for the viewing on YouTube.

Of course, just because a movie was produced during the last century does not mean it will meet your standards, but many are wholesome, fun and filled with great turns. And, many are adaptations of good “boy literature” such as Old Yeller by Fred Gibson, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and more. And there are many movies that are not adapted from literature but mimic the types of stories that are found in more traditional boy’s literature. Some of these movies are very juvenile and perhaps not favorites of parents. Yet, these types of movies are the type of books boys have traditionally read for years. Boy books from several decades ago concentrated on typical boys with extraordinary traits which gave these boys an advantage. Rather that extraordinary powers or magic giving boys an advantage. This shift has always bothered me because I believe boys no longer feel that being a hero is attainable. Continue reading

Little League Has Changed

Today I went to photograph a 9 year old neighbor’s Little League Baseball game. I could not help but be nostalgic and see some humor in how things have changed since I was a boy. Here are some observations and some pictures from the day. Continue reading

Surprising Differences In Middle School Boys From 20 Years Ago

I have worked in camps, schools and coached over many, many years. Perhaps because I had a “pause” in working with kids these differences are more obvious to me, but here are some changes I have seen over 20 years.
1. Open Affection: I don’t think this is because I am a grandparent and view the world differently. I have worked with Chinese and American middle schoolers and today it seems to be “OK” to display affection between parent and the middle schooler. And I don’t just mean a quick kiss, which has always been OK. I mean arms wrapped around and holding kids, boys included, in public. Twenty years ago this would have caused great angst for the middle school boy. (Yes, some boys still don’t like it, but affection is far more prevalent today.)

Continue reading

From a Man – What I Want Moms to Know About Boys

As a male, a father and grandfather, who has worked with boys for 30 years, I wish all moms knew the following 11 things about boys.

Despite the beliefs of some in our culture who have allowed crazy cultural ideas to run amok, boys REALLY ARE different than girls. And treating them the same is just wrong. So, from this Male, father of a boy and grandfather to 5 boys, and educator of hundreds of boys, this is what I want Moms to know about their boys. Continue reading

Once Upon A Time Kids Were Kids

kids-8Back before there were drugs to calm little ones down, before recess became extinct, when organized sports were few and far between, when it was OK to play outside and you were not required to follow your kid around to “redirect” them – way, way, way back – kids were allowed and expected to be kids!

I remember my teacher education classes talking about how to handle squirmy boys and there was no mention of drugs. I remember a discussion as to how long a 3rd grader could sit. My professor basically told us we were idiots if we thought they could sit for more than 25 minutes. In today’s 3rd grade classroom I would guess 25 minutes is the shortest stretch they have to subdue their naturally wiggly bodies. Continue reading

Why Boys Need To Move

I know some of you are saying “is he ever going to stop preaching about this?”

The answer is “Once people start listening, I will stop preaching!”

Here is a TedX KC lecture. It is 10 minutes long, but well worth it for parents of boys. Especially if you are being pressured to place your child on medication for depression, anxiety, or ADD. Before placing your child on meds, first, watch this video, then make adjustments to your family and son and only after you have successfully made adjustments should you consider medications. Continue reading

Your son does not have to fall victim to a system that prefers girls. Follow these suggestions to help your son thrive in school.

How Boys Can Thrive in School

proof-2In my last article about boys and schools (See here: Are Schools Failing Our Boys?) you may have gotten the idea that I think all boys in our educational system are doomed. I don’t! Just because the system is stacked against them does not mean boys are automatically doomed. But it does mean parents will have to be on their guard and involved in ways you may not have expected to be involved. Here is how I think boys can thrive in our schools today. Continue reading

Indestructible Log Blocks For Sensory Monsters

Let’s be honest. I love all 4 of my children, but one in particular, though all of them at some point, was a compacting crusher machine who regularly turned toys into pancake messes. (In all fairness, my mother told me over and over that I was THAT child.) So my wife and I were always on the hunt for toys that were nearly indestructible. And now with 6 wonderful grandchildren, who are my descendants complete with some of my tendencies, the indestructible toy search continues.

Before daughter #4’s wedding I wanted to make a small outside play area for my 6 grandchildren ages 6 to 1. A few of which have clearly inherited the compacting crusher gene. So before they arrived I set up a play area complete with log blocks created just for this occasion. I am happy to report not one single block fell victim to compacting crusher syndrome. They all survived and were a big hit. (With both the boys and girls!) Continue reading