Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Boy's Heart

I used to lament not having girls. And I used to think I would simply keep churning out children until my womb yielded a child with the proper assortment of sex organs.

I would have my girl.

That's not exactly how things worked out, and as it happens, that's all for the best.

But...

When I was pregnant with my first child, I cried the the day I found out I was having a boy. I had no brothers you see, and boys were more than mysterious to me, they were simply and profoundly absent from my life experiences.

Men...now men I knew. Men I understood. Men I could handle. Men, I believed, are essentially simple and straightforward creatures.

But men are first little boys, and I was desperately afraid that I would do something egregiously wrong in my rearing of a male child and end up unleashing upon the world some oddly Oedipal manwoman incapable of relating to the opposite sex in any but an entirely superficial and/or thoroughly unsettling manner.

I was afraid of raising Norman Bates.

It was a foolish fear of course, but pregnant women can be a little irrational sometimes, and first time Moms are distressingly adept at borrowing trouble.

I suppose the jury is still out on whether my fears in that regard were completley unfounded, but I've learned a thing or two in almost 13 years of parenting boys, and I think I can say without equivocation that I am finding boys to be, all things considered, as uncomplicated as their adult counterparts.

Oh they are different of course, and in some ways, almost alien. But I've figured it out for the most part, with Husband's help. And I now realize that tempermentally speaking, I am much better suited to raising boys.

I have no patience for drama, you see. I have no patience for histrionics, catfighting, backbiting, gameplaying or machinations. I cannot mollify, pacify, placate or patronize with adroitness or sincerity.

But boys....

They don't mince words. They don't play games. They punch each other and then it's done with. I'm not saying that necessarily a good thing.

It is a whole lot easier though.

But there is one way in which we differ that I find thoroughly frustrating. It is the same issue that has plagued relationships between men and women since time began.

Communication.

Boys do not like to talk.

Oh they will yammer on about matchbox cars and dinosaurs. Or, when they're older, sports and girls.

But feelings? Relationships? Conflict Resolution? A pox on them.

Nosiree. They'd rather adopt a "wait for it to blow over" strategy. The "walk on eggshells until she forgets she's mad at me" strategy. The "if I don't think about it, it will cease to be true" strategy.

Husband is pretty good at communication, which is why, I feel, our marriage has lasted almost fifteen years. But even he will sometimes practice tactical avoidance when he knows I am upset, but thoroughly mystified as to the cause.

Recently, Pre-Pubescent had a protracted disagreement with his best friend. Both of them are unusually affable kids, so it was a little strange that they hadn't worked things out after a couple of days.

Usually, all it takes is a couple of insults, a couple of good natured and half hearted thwaps, maybe a nuggie, and all is well.

To whit:

"You're such an asshole."

"I'd rather be one than look like one."

"Buttmunch"

"Fuckface"

"Ow!"

"Ow!"

"Wanna play Guitar Hero?"

"Okay."

But apparently, this argument was of a scope and seriousness that such a strategy would not suffice.

So he brooded.

On the third day, he came home from school, stomped up to his room, slammed the door, and burst into tears.

Now as a mother, my instinct is to fix things, and my way of fixing things is to talkabout what is wrong and how to mend it. But this is the wrong tack to take with a boy. Forcing a boy to emote when he wants to cave is really not constructive at all.

I've learned this the hard way and in so doing, I've had to face Husband's pursed mouth, head shaking, I-told-you-so look when my insistence has resulted in one or the other of our male children closing us out completely, with stubborn, sullen muteness.

So I sent Husband to do deal with it. Birds of a feather and all that rot.

In the meantime, I decided to call Best Friend's mother to see if she had some insight. She didn't and agreed that it was frustrating that neither child would talk about it. But, she confided, girls are worse. MEANER, she qualified. Much, much meaner.

She said she would try to talk to Best Friend, but that realistically, it would probably just have to blow over. We sighed together over the ridiculous maleness of it all and hung up.

She called back the next day to let me know that there was actually more to the issue, which I had suspected and filled me in. She had told her son that it wasn't fair to give Pre-Pubescent One the cold shoulder without explaining why he was angry, and that they owed it to one another as friends to be honest and direct.

But he wasn't ready to talk to Pre-Pubescent One about it. Of course. "I can't push him" she said apologetically. I told her I understood and we agreed to just wait it out.

I went up to talk to Pre-Pubescent One and explain. I told him Best Friend was angry about more than just the incident, and that his anger was justified. I told him that when Best Friend was ready to talk about it, he needed to listen, and really hear what Best Friend was saying to him.

He nodded very earnestly, clearly relieved that Best Friend was actually planning to talk to him again at some point.

The next day it snowed, which here in Georgia is a VERY big deal. Every kid in the neighborhood was outside, including of course, Pre-Pubescent One and Best Friend. They initially ignored one another, but a couple of hours later when I looked out, they appeared to be, once again, bosom pals.

Later that evening, I asked Pre-Pubescent One about it.

"So...things are okay with you and Best Friend?"

"Yep."

"So...what happened?"

He shrugged.

"Nothing, really."

"Well did you talk?"

"Yeah."

I looked at him and he looked at me. Clearly, I was going to have to drag it out of him one word at a time.

"What did he say, Pre-Pubescent One?"

"He said I was being an asshole."

"And....?"

"I listened, I heard him, and I apologized for being an asshole."

"That's it???"

"Yep."

"Didn't you ask him why he was mad?"

"Why would I do that?"

Why indeed.

I felt there was more, because with a boy, there almost always is. To my credit, I did not harangue him further. It would have been pointless.

And like that day so long ago, when he came home from his very first day of school, and I was hungry for details of his first foray into the world without me, I simply settled down to wait until he was ready to unburden his heart.

The moments come when I least expect them. Sometimes, they are casually tossed into the hectic conversation of day to day life. Sometimes they are whispered to me in the darkness on the cusp of a dream. Sometimes they are blurted, tearful confessions wrenched from them by guilt.

But always, they are precious to me for their rarity.

A boy's heart is often a closed and mysterious thing. But sometimes, sometimes, a mother is privvy to it's secrets.

If she can wait.

22 Comments:

  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    Oh, man. I wish I could say more, I am just all choked up.

     
  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Tismee2 said…

    You put that so nicely - and accurately. Having boys is hard work, but like you say doesn't include the spitefullness of girls.

    I like having boys - especially because i just couldn't cope with 'pink' all over the place!

    Glad to see you've found your 'creative juices' again!

    Gail

     
  • At 3:52 PM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    I love what passes for them "talking about it"!

    Did this uncommunicativeness pop up later, because Zachary is all about expressing his feelings to the point where his mother wishes he would stop every now and then?

     
  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger Hairline Fracture said…

    This is very good advice for me, the mother of a two-year-old boy, to learn while he is young. Not reinventing the wheel and all that. It sounds like you are very well suited to raise boys even if you would LIKE a few more details.

    As for the girl drama--I can handle the drama, having been a wellspring of overflowing emotions most of my life. But I would qualify your statement about handling girls: I don't "mollify, pacify, placate or patronize" when she acts like not getting her way is the end of the world, because I don't want a girl who thinks throwing hissy fits is a good way to manipulate other people. I listen, I HEAR her, and then I suggest ways for her to get her emotions under control so she can get her needs met in a more appropriate way. Then we move on.

    In other words, I try to teach her to be just a tiny little bit more like a boy.

     
  • At 4:20 PM, Anonymous mel from freak parade said…

    I am so much better suited for the lack of drama raising a boy. My daughter is four, and has increased the emotional drama in our family about a million times over since birth. Gah.
    I know exactly what you mean when you said that if you just wait, the communication comes with boys. With my son's Asperger's I have to be an especially patient waiter, as communicating emotions is not really his top priority anyway....but those moments do come. And they are indeed, worth the wait.

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    I have a girl and am very aware of the drama involved. It has moved from tantrums to hormones. Ugh! However, Thank you for the incite on raising a boy. I may never get that privilege but it's nice to know that if I do, I will have some idea how to handle the mind of a boy.

     
  • At 5:30 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    and i HATE waiting. but i agree, for those of us who are only "girly" on the outside, we're probably better off raising boys.

     
  • At 6:35 PM, Blogger cndymkr said…

    I can relate to this post. I always thought I would be a great girl mom. I thought God was playing a cruel joke on me when I found out I was having a boy. But there is something to be said for unanswered prayers. I love being a boy mom. I can't imagine dealing with girl hormones/drama. My son is my only child and he is the love of my life. With that being said, he is so closed mouth that I can't stand it. I feel I pepper him with questions and still I get nothing. I have found that I get more from him when we're driving somewhere. I guess it's easier for him to
    talk with the music blaring?
    jean

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    I love this...it's like a glimpse of what I have to look forward to with Oliver.

     
  • At 8:22 PM, Blogger Doodaddy said…

    Nicely put. As a former boy, I think we have all the emotional range of girls -- it just takes a lot more subtlety to extract it from us...

     
  • At 8:36 PM, Blogger Life As I Know It said…

    So true. My oldest is only 6, but already I have found out (the hard way) that he will confide in me when he's ready, and often, in the least suspecting moments. I love those moments.
    I've always thought I am lucky to have two boys because I think the mother-daughter relationship is so much more complcated than mother-son.
    Great post!

     
  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger Baroness von Bloggenschtern said…

    I've had almost 18 years of being a boy mom, and by and large, have loved every moment.

    And, while I risk permanent damage from bashing my head up against a brick wall, I keep trying to draw them out when things go south. Because you're right - we want to fix things, that's what we do. But I'm learning that they learn how to resolve in their own way, in their own time. It's wicked hard to sit by and watch, but there you have it.

    I'm also finally learning that if I am silently present in their periphery, they'll eventually show up. Hungry. At least I can feed them.

     
  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger the end of motherhood said…

    I used to wait patiently and am sure it is the right thing to do, but after three boys I now insist that if I am shlepping all the way to school to pick them up, the least they can do is give me three details about their day. They usually cough something up about which they actually want to converse - they just didn't know it. And if they don't, well then we turn the radio up really loud for the rest of the ride home.

     
  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger anne said…

    You are so spot on with the male communication thing.

    When I do push my son for conversation, I have to sometimes remind him to move his lips while he's talking to me. And the one word answers? GAH!

    In defense of girls however (as I've got one of each), at least I know what's going on with her around. And being that they are only a year apart, she can also keep me up to date on my son's social life when I can get anything out of him. Hee.

     
  • At 11:19 PM, Blogger Rositta said…

    I have only one child and he is a boy/man but he was as you described. He still tiptoes around me when he thinks i'm mad rather than discuss it. He has three sons and now a girl. That will be a change, all that pink stuff...I loved raising a boy..ciao

     
  • At 12:08 AM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    Yes. To all of it. That's JUST how it is over at my house.

    And you said it so well!

     
  • At 7:39 AM, Blogger Polgara said…

    We're "trying", I want a boy!
    Pol x

     
  • At 9:44 AM, Blogger Leigh said…

    This is so hard for me as a mother of girls first. My two girls are dramatic, complicated...and VERY verbal. They want to talk about everything in minute detail. But then I went and had two boys, and even at three and seven I can tell they are completely different, and I am mystified. I'm kind of enjoying the lack of drama, though.

     
  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    I desperately wanted to be a "Boy Mom", but birthed a girl. A very girly girl with the accompanying dresses and Barbies and love of sparkly things.

    However, i must disagree with one thing you stated" I have no patience for drama, you see. I have no patience for histrionics, catfighting, backbiting, gameplaying or machinations. I cannot mollify, pacify, placate or patronize with adroitness or sincerity."

    If a girl is raised well, with confidence and honesty as the basis of her life, her Mother should not have to concern herself with those things any more than a boy's mother would.

    That being said, I can't wait to have grandsons!

     
  • At 12:00 PM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    "I listened, I heard him, and I apologized for being an asshole."

    If only all men could come up with such an ideal response. After all, what more can you ask for?

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger Mac and Cheese said…

    My adult, male co-worker hadn't talked to his best friend in over a year when they reconnected at a party. I asked my co-worker if they discussed their issues, and the reply was, "No. That would have just been uncomfortable. We just had a beer instead."

     
  • At 4:52 PM, Blogger Code Yellow Mom said…

    I cried the second time when it was a boy. I whooped for joy the third time when it was a boy. Seriously. I am perfectly happy with waiting. I think. At least because I know that the constant hurting of feelings and talking about who said what and why they said it and I just know she hates me and I hate her and will never talk to her again and how do I look would drive me bonkers. Having boys just fits.

    And what a gem of a boy you have, who can listen and apologize. Way to go, mom!

     

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