‘Boys will be boys’ an introduction to rough play

We’re the proud parents of two boys. One is 4 and one is 6 months, they’re great fun and I can’t wait until they’re old enough to play together properly. I’m hoping that by the time the youngest is 4, they’ll be pretty self-sufficient. No?

Our eldest started school last year. It was a proud moment. He stood grinning for pictures, donning his clean uniform which was too big for him and seemingly ready to plough head first into the next (minimum) 13 years of his life in education. He went in with no fuss, positively beaming in fact. Two hours later, we went to pick him up and he came out, saw us, and burst into tears. 

After our sons apparent distress by being handed back to us by relative strangers, school life progressed pretty well. Not that he told us about it very much. One by one our anxieties diminished, there were friends, new games, parents evenings and eventually the first birthday party. 

At this point, our youngest was about a month old so as the party was in one of the festering, sweaty germ pits known as ‘soft play’ I stepped up and took him. I saw it as an excellent opportunity to get stuck into my Sky Sports News app, while watching my son interacting with his new friends, perhaps go down a slide or whatever. I could even sneak a sausage roll or five. 

Now I’m not a naive bloke. I’ve been around rough and tumble (as a kid), played a lot of sport and embraced the whole lad/lager culture. However, nothing quite prepared me for the horror of watching a three year old being strangled until he went purple, while sitting next to the Father of the strangler who found the whole thing hilarious, “boys will be boys”, I was told. 

I saw two boys pulling an arm each of a tiny kid, who fell down and had his head jumped on. All under the watchful eye of their parents, who laughed and rejoiced in the ‘boys will be boys’ rhetoric. 

In this party, and subsequent parties, the usual perpetrators strangled, pulled, jumped on and generally assaulted all of those around them. Until a victim hits back, then the perpetrators parent goes after the victim and they just take a verbal beating from them instead. I’ve even seen a kid get his head stamped on, then suffer a bollocking from his own parents about inciting that behaviour in the first place. 

I accept that I may be wrong on this. Me being wrong happens quite a lot. However, I’m just not prepared to accept that three/four year olds are ready for the whole ‘boys will be boys’ thing. Especially when they’re choking each other. 

I also accept there’s not a pre-defined age for strangling another human, but weirdly, it’s likely to happen. Boys will be boys, yes? 

The outcome is, the diminishing anxieties about our eldest making friends or basic things like that, have been replaced with anxiety. I attend these parties watching and waiting to jump into a bouncy castle to take down a child who may strangle son, because ‘boys will be boys’. I just think they’re too young to be indulging in GBH. 

What do you think?