Raising Boys: There’s More than Meets the Eye (2/20/14)

Boys vs. Girls Debate

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to hearing, “You are so lucky, it’s so much easier raising boys than girls.”

Most recently, I heard this again as some friends with daughters lamented the lengthy to-do lists in preparation for the high school’s annual winter formal. A sampling of some tasks included: ordering an assortment of different dresses to choose from, searching for special shoes the correct color and heel height (which, after being worn for pictures, are discarded for the rest of the night), finding sparkling jewelry and petite purses and making salon appointments for finishing touches to make-up, hair and nails.

When it comes to outfitting boys for dances, I agree, we moms have it pretty easy. My son’s closet consists of a good suit, a couple collared dress shirts, the same worn-in pair of dress shoes he’s had for years and a hand-me-down belt. Once his girlfriend decides on a dress, I select a coordinating neck tie. After showering, and drowning in Axe, my son’s ready to walk out the door in about 15 minutes.

I wish someone would’ve warned me about the infatuation teenage boys have with blanketing themselves in that pungent body spray. I’m convinced there’s a direct correlation between the amount of Axe sprayed by teenage boys and the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer.

Sometimes I overhear girlfriends swapping mother-daughter shopping stories. Sure, it would be fun to shop with someone who doesn’t complain. But I figured out a few years ago, if the trip to the mall includes a hearty lunch and a visit to Game Stop, my boys can shop a full 30 minutes before their eyes roll back in their heads and they claim they’ve contracted a lethal shopping-related illness.

There exists one major benefit to shopping with boys: I’m never asked if they can borrow anything I buy. My favorite jeans and shoes can always be found safe and sound in my closet.

When it comes to conversation, I think it’s unfair to compare boys’ communication skills to their female counterparts.

It’s my experience that boys converse concisely and unpredictably. When the recent winter formal neared its end, my son’s bus driver called and asked me to text my son and his girlfriend his cell number so he could find them in the moonlit sea of suits and sequins. My son’s girlfriend immediately sent me a lengthy reply and added that she and my son had been crowned junior prince and princess. My son replied with, “K.”

Last year, the author who penned “Queen Bees & Wannabes (the basis for the 2004 movie Mean Girls and a parenting bible for some parents raising adolescent girls), released her boy version of that book, “Masterminds & Wingmen.”

She interviewed over 160 boys and admits many of her long-held assumptions about boy behavior proved wrong. She said we sometimes assume boys are easier because they keep quiet, “… what looks like their ‘easiness’ is actually our own ignorance.”

In part, boys are viewed as easier because they don’t demand attention the same way as girls. Most boys can answer almost any question with, “It’s fine.” The author said boys are way more complex than we think, and as a result it’s challenging to crack the adolescent boy communication code.

When girlfriends say I have it easy raising boys, they’re usually quick to remind me there’s a consequence looming on the horizon. Sooner or later someone says, “A son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of her life.” I admit the old adage isn’t my favorite so I choose to counter with, “A mom doesn’t lose a son, but gains a daughter.”

It’s true, I’ll never be the mother of the bride, but I’ll also never be featured on an episode of the reality show “Bridezilla.”

After almost 20 years on the job, the truth is parenting both boys and girls is extraordinarily difficult and none of us have it easy. But, I do agree that I am lucky. Everyday my boys make me feel incredibly lucky.

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