Boys will be boys. Don’t you just hate that phrase? Ugh. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. It sounds so… so… unrepentant. So smug and irresponsible. Typically, you hear it coming out of a parent’s mouth when they’re defending their son who just wounded the neighbor’s dog with a slingshot. Or worse, it’s the lame defense offered by the attorney for a 50-year-old father who started a brawl at a youth football game.
Still, I must admit, there is just something about boys.
As you stand there in the maternity ward, anxiously waiting to see if you are the proud parent of a son or a daughter, you should know that nature is definitely handing you a stacked deck either way. If you happen to get a card that reads “Boy” — my wife and I have two sons — then be prepared!
Turns out that boys, especially when paired up, go from cute little babies lying in a crib to mischievous, unstoppable little dudes in the blink of an eye.
Take our boys, for example. One is five years old, the other three. Here’s basically what they’d like to do on any given day this month: jump in the mud, dig up bugs in the mud, throw mud on each other, throw bugs on each other, and spray each other with the garden hose. All while laughing hysterically. Do little girls do stuff like that? I’ve asked the parents of girls and the answer is pretty much, “Not really.”
No, most little girls don’t sword fight like pirates, jumping precariously from couch to couch to avoid the crocodiles swimming in the sea of carpet below. Most little girls don’t give each other bucking bronco rides that end with the rider being tossed off into a table leg. Most little girls don’t try out new wrestling or karate moves on each other. Most little girls don’t break all of their toys by putting them through physical endurance testing. Little boys do all of this.
I have seen how little girls play. I’ve watched nieces and their friends spend time together at family parties. While my boys are bludgeoning an innocent throw pillow with a foam baseball bat, the little girls are quietly playing a board game. They’re sitting down, thumbing through books. They’re dressing up, hosting tea parties and conversing with each other using actual words, not grunts — and nearly always playing something that revolves around Disney princesses.
Meanwhile, as the fathers of little boys wince at the sound of each CRASH, BOOM, BANG emanating from the family room, the fathers of little girls calmly munch on chips and watch the football game, knowing their little princess isn’t tempting fate and a trip to the emergency room by sledding down the stairs inside a pillowcase.
I have also seen how little girls act when asked to accompany their parents on a simple shopping excursion. Girls act much differently than boys in that arena. Recently, my wife and I had our two boys out for a quick trip to a department store. My wife, who was trying on a few things, put me in charge of our sons. Letting boys loose in a department store is like letting a couple of Labrador retrievers loose in a department store. Both follow their natural instinct to run and chase.
As I anxiously followed the noisemakers through rows of clothes and down aisles of home décor, I stopped to see a father and his two young daughters — get this — sniffing candles. “Mmm, that smells like flowers,” one of the tranquil little girls said to her dad. I felt like pointing to my kids, then pointing to his kids and yelling out, “Not fair, pal! Not fair!” I didn’t have time to, though. My boys were already grabbing crystal picture frames off a shelf.
Apparently, little boys come equipped with a different type of engine. An engine that never stops, an engine that always revs. And, really, I do count my blessings that I have two energetic kids. The good news, for me, though, is that things do change. Little boys and girls eventually become teenage boys and girls. Ha, ha, ha. Then, that guy in the department store will pay!
For now, I’ll just have to appreciate that boys will be boys. I also think I should pick up the phone and apologize to my mother. You see, I’m one of four boys myself — no sisters — and I’ve just recalled a few things from my own childhood while writing this column.
Brian Kantz does realize that fathers who have to dress up and attend princess tea parties everyday may have something to say about this column. Visit Brian online at www.briankantz.com or drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.