I don’t have a brother -- we were all females down at the ol' homestead: a sister, two girl cousins, girl cats, girl dogs, right down to the girl goldfish. As a result, I grew up in a world where food was for eating and not for racing to finish, and vomiting was considered a travesty rather than a punch line. I was in college before anyone ever made the classic request, “Pull my finger.”
So it came as rather a shock when motherhood saddled me with three testosterone-packin’ varmints - Whoa, there, lil dogies! Let’s use our words, not body slams. It’s a lot like living in an Animal Planet special on “Cubs in the Wild:” constant tussling to test each other’s limits. Occasionally, one will push or hit or tease too hard and then, BAM! The payback! It's completely counter to what I intended for my offspring, having grown up in the era of “Free to Be You and Me:“ I swore my male children would loving nurturers who sang Kumbaya to their gender non-specific dolls.
Hah. Now I shrug off a level of violence that would make a hockey fan cringe.
Actually, the only thing that still makes me cringe is the phrase, “Hey, Mom: watch this!” While I’m thrilled that my kids still long for my attention, this request is usually uttered far from where emergency vehicles can be quickly summoned.
“Not today,” is my usual response, “We don’t have time to go to the emergency room.” This line worked until my youngest piped up, “Can you make an appointment for the emergency room, Mom? ‘Cause this stunt will be awesome.”
I must admit, for a while there, I regretted missing out on all the girly stuff - you know, dressing my own living doll in lacy socks and matching bows. Then, one day, while volunteering in one son’s classroom, I came across a group of girls who wouldn’t let another girl play with them. After calming the hysterical child down, I found out that she was being snubbed because, as the Queen Girl explained, “We’re not wearing pink today.” Suddenly, the fart jokes didn't seem so bad.
Those girls got an earful that day, let me tell you. But they weren’t the only ones who learned something: I chose not to memorize the Queen Girl’s name so I could someday anonymously send her articles on liposuction. I think I showed tremendous self-restraint.
I’m proud that I’ve ventured beyond Girl World and managed to go native. Quite frankly, it’s refreshing how unambiguous boys are - they’re simple machines along the lines of the pulley, the lever and the inclined plane. They are brutally frank in their appraisals - things are either “awesome” or they “suck” (we are working on the language); since they are motivated either by appetite or avoiding pain, they are alarmingly transparent (unless they’re willing to risk pain in order to prove they’re right, in which case, you better watch your back); their mammalian “Cubs-in-the-Wild” brains are too hyped on adrenalin to notice color schemes or nurse long-term grudges the way us womenfolk do (see above: “articles on liposuction“). I may not know how to French braid, but I’ve developed the wicked quick reflexes I need dodge flying objects, and I have learned every fart joke known to man.
I never thought I’d say this, but my three testosterone-packin’ hombres have completed my education, and I’m much obliged.
And who knows? There may be a granddaughter someday, and she‘s the one I can cover in buttons and bows.
And teach her the fart jokes. Someone’s got to clue her in early.