Flannery Correspondence

May 1, 2010

Men Are From Mars: Boys Are the Best

Filed under: POPS! — BrianOFlan @ 17:22

October 16, 2009

by Brian Flannery

I grew up the oldest of three boys. Boys are the best. I remember running in church when I was a kid and I loved it. All the church ladies told me not to run because it was the house of God. When my parents heard that, they took me aside and said, “nevermind them; find a place to run where they can’t see you.” It became a game.

After church the stuffy perfume ladies took up positions blocking all the exits to make sure the Sunday morning boredom went unbroken. But we found ways around them and around the boredom. There they stood like stern guardians of sacred somberness, slightly crouched in anticipation of tackling children half their size and one tenth their age. Then from the ventilation ducts came the quick, light thumping of free feet.

I was looking forward to that creative mischief in my own children. Sneaking around the house with the kids when mom would have a bad day. Exploring forests that aren’t really there in the garage. Making fortresses out of couch cushions and launching rolled socks as snow balls. Inventing impossible technologies and disassembling household appliances.

Then the Good Lord blessed me with four girls.

It took an hour yesterday to convince my daughter to wear a pair of tennis shoes to play in the front yard. She kept turning her ankle in her high-heeled sandals. She is terribly fashion conscious, insists on wearing dresses every day and refuses pants. I gave her the choice: To bed with her precious heels or outside to play in the tennis shoes.

She cried in bed for a half hour, then came down to renegotiate: She would play outside if I let her pick the ballerina slippers. She cried in bed for another half hour. Then I held her down and forced tennis shoes over her curled toes and kicking feet. Just in time for her neighbor friends to go home for dinner and the sun to set.

Boys don’t care what they wear as long as it’s not pink. Boys don’t have dolls or tea sets. Boys don’t do crafts. They draw helicopters or spaceships. Boys have trucks and wooden swords and dangerous sharp things they find before the trash man arrives. All they want is to play with matches by the natural gas main or throw rocks at the neighbor dogs.

I played catch the other day for the first time since sixth grade. Another family invited us to a park that had a baseball diamond. They have two boys. At last! A chance to return to boyhood — before you know it, we should be reenacting The Sandlot.

Instead, the other father and I ended up playing catch together. The kids were a lost cause. My daughter hit the tee-ball and ran towards first base… but ended up doing circle eights in the outfield.

The boys were more coordinated but unprepared to stop on any one base (which made me proud by proxy for heterosexuals everywhere). Instead of running with the bat like the girls, they threw it recklessly. That was cool.

Oh well. We will all be pros in no time. Everything takes practice. Even fashion and tea parties.

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