I’m not a boy. I’ve never been a boy and I will never know firsthand what it’s like to be a boy. But I’m curious.
I grew up with boys. I have a husband and close friends who were — at one time and arguably still may be — boys. When I ask what it’s like to be one, I get a shrugged retort, “I don’t know, what’s it like to be a girl?”
(My response: “I could tell you but you can’t handle the truth!”)
I thought maybe I could get some insight into this lifelong curiosity when I had sons, but they can’t answer the question either. I wondered if I carefully studied my sons for one day, could I achieve more clarity? Maybe a bit more insight?
So I did.
Boys’ emotions change rapidly.
I’m not ashamed to admit this because I believe it to be fairly universal among siblings, but my boys fight … a lot. They punch not only the psychological buttons of their sibling but often their physical sibling as well. They are six years and about 100 pounds apart, but the little one goes after the big one as if they were the same size. Mere moments later, the fight is a thing of the past, and they are happily huddled together. Deep anger to brotherly affection in a nanosecond.
Boys are either sleeping or loud. Sometimes they are both.
From the moment they wake until the time that they say they are going to sleep (”Really this time, Mom”) their volume is loud. The walk loudly, play loudly and even sleep loudly — tossing, turning and getting up to answer nature’s call. Throughout my day of observation they stomped instead of walked; yelled instead of talked. My 9-year-old’s idea of a nighttime wind-down consisted of seeing how fast he could race between four bedrooms, bounce across the beds and get back to his own room.
This leads to another observation ….
Boys are fast. And always hungry. And kind of gross.
I made chili for supper. When the ground beef was browned in the pot I turned to open a can of tomatoes. In the time it took me to utter, “what the ...” and drop my jaw, teenage Luke stealthily snuck behind me, reached into the pot, grabbed some hot meat WITH HIS HAND, shoved it in his mouth, executed a skilled spin move around me, opened the refrigerator door, grabbed a ketchup bottle and squirted it on top of the hamburger still in his mouth, sort-of chewed and swallowed.
“Boom!” he shouted as Noah screamed in delight from the other room, “COME HERE! Mike Rowe is IMPREGNATING A PIG!”
Fast. Hungry. Gross. Loud. Amazing.
When boys like something, they really, really like it.
They create methods to intertwine seemingly unrelated interests and activities. That evening Noah joined me watching TV. Moments after sitting down, a rubber ball appeared from nowhere and he began to toss and catch it off a nearby wall while singing (correctly) the lyrics of “My Way.” He effortlessly combined his love of baseball, Frank Sinatra, TV watching and his mom all in one.
When both of my boys were infants, I vividly remember holding them close. The look that they gave me was the same as each other, but different from the way my daughter looked at me. I theorized with the first boy, then confirmed with the second — my daughter loves me, but the boys? My boys adore me.
Many years and head shakes later, I know all that I need to about my boys: This is still true.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.