The funniest thing happened to me the other night. Two eight-year-old boys came to my house. It was like someone released the Kraken.
This is not a complaint. It’s a surprised observation on life with boys. It was a very educational experience.
I do not know about boys. I have no brothers, and I have one child- a girl.
She is nine. I oversee a lot of play dates with girls of same or similar age.
This is what girls do: they listen to the radio, gossip, create imaginary worlds using Shopkins, draw, craft, and groom themselves. That’s what I did, too.
At Olivia’s slumber party with six friends, the girls sat around the living room after their shower and preened themselves. The kinds of forgotten items left at my house were stuffed animals and hair products.
They talked about crushes and held a mock wedding using one litre soda bottles as the groom. They giggle a lot, and they went to the bathroom in groups. Yes, it starts way before nightclubbing age.
When alone, Olivia will redecorate her glass unicorn display, cut out pictures of kittens for her wall, text her friend using three times as many emoticons as words, and organize her jewelry collection.
So, the boys. Oh. My.
I had a dinner party and one of my guests brought her sons. That’s why this wasn’t an intentional play date at the park.
The first thing they did was toss themselves on the sofa and roll themselves around my giant exercise ball. I had a vision of them rolling into my entertainment center and crashing into my TV.
Their mom is on top of it with discipline, but she/we didn’t see a lot of it. I asked Olivia to play with some new friends, which meant she partially ended up supervising them all night (in another part of the house.)
It wasn’t all work and no play, since these boys are handsome, sweet, and charming. The kids had fun playing hide and seek, and chase.
For the entire three hours, I either heard doors slamming or freight-train footsteps running through the halls, plus yelling and laughing. No problem – just different for this mom of a girl.
My house is child-friendly, but female-child friendly. People should get specific on that term, because girl-proofing and boy-proofing are two entirely different things.
There is a whole new level of storm prep required for males. Girls are a weather advisory. Boys are a category five hurricane.
At one point, I saw one of the boys whacking my metal screen door with my pink, satin, lavender-filled, stress-relieving pillow. I heard half a dozen thuds before I went over to look. The screen door got stuck shut and required Claus to realign it the next morning.
I went into Olivia’s room to check on them and found one boy shooting foam bullets from the Nerf gun into the moving ceiling fan. I found bullets in every room in the house the next day.
The other boy explored every room of the house, including what all the girls consider the scary and dark basement. I tried to keep him out by telling him there was a ghost, but he was not fazed.
In retrospect, I think he’d have wanted to see it. He’d probably have called his brother, and together, they would have shot foam bullets at it. Or tried to tinker with it to see if it would break.
Again, not a big deal. Just new to me.
One of the boys walked into the kitchen, picked up a watermelon on the counter, and dropped it on the floor. It split open like a noggin without a helmet.
His expression was one of curiosity, like, “Oh, that doesn’t bounce.” Olivia’s expression was of fear, like, “He’s in trouble. Mom’s going to lose it.”
But Mom didn’t lose it. After I got over the initial shock, I just figured boys will be boys, and my house really isn’t that precious. So I cut up the melon that night instead of waiting until the next day.
The people who know about boys – mothers with sons, or grown men – laughed at my naivete. My friend Paul Nickel has FOUR brothers.
He enlightened me: “My mother always used to say, ‘This is why we can’t have nice things!’” When he was a boy, he and his brothers hung themselves from the ceiling fan and turned it on to spin them.
My friend Maile said when her two teen boys fight, they break walls. Beth said she’s already been warned by other moms that every door in her house will need replacing at some point. She also said she used to have fancy shoes but now she just has three pairs of sneakers so she can chase after her sons.
Tina told me she thought she was going crazy because she just put out a fresh kitchen towel, only to have it disappear after a couple minutes. Turns out her son was throwing it up to the ceiling to watch it drop back down, until it got stuck in the rafters.
Boys just like to test the laws of physics. That, and they have irrepressible energy that turns the world into their jungle gym.
One of the boys asked me for soda. I declined, “Sweetie, I think you have enough energy for now. I’ll give you some when you’re 20.”
Olivia was also shell-shocked. She spent the night corralling boys, and then reported to me the next morning.
“They broke my room, Mom,” she sighed, gesturing to a debris-filled field of faded sparkle and ruined glitter. It was like someone killed a rainbow.
Her rubber band bracelet kit had been half emptied on the bed. Her Shopkins had been flung in all corners of the room. Her colored pens and pencils were strewn about. A My Little Pony poster had been ripped off the wall.
“They sprayed my Febreze everywhere! They used up half the can!” she huffed.
“Where did they spray it?” I asked.
“All over! Your shrimp tank. My bed. My eyes,” she complained.
The shrimp are part of an experiment I’m participating in with a couple of state aquatic biologists. I probably shouldn’t let them die, so I had to change their water immediately.
She has a decorated coconut in her room. I came across it as I helped her clean up. “It’s a good thing they didn’t throw this at something,” I pointed out.
“Oh, they did. They went into your room, and one stood on your bed and chucked it on the ground,” she corrected.
Olivia had asked them not to play with the coconut, which of course got interpreted as, “Please play with the coconut.”
After a couple instances of this, she realized what was happening and tried to reverse-psychology them. “I told them they could trash my room. AND THEY DID!” she exclaimed.
All I can do is laugh. I laugh out loud- a lot- when I think of that wild visit. I’m actually grateful for it, because it provides so much comic relief.
Anyway, girls are easier now while they’re in grade school, but I hear (and I remember) that they are often difficult in middle and high school, when it’s all sass and cat fights. So in a handful of years, it’ll be the moms of boys who are having the laugh.