Stuff

Lady Of The Manor: Boys Will Be Boys? That’s Just A Cop Out

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A little while back, I went to pick up my sons from an after school martial arts program. The little girls in the class were quietly folding up their uniforms and gathering their books and bags to go home. The boys, on the other hand, were playing tag, running in circles and getting rid of whatever pent up energy they’d been storing while being taught the art of discipline and respect by their sensei. Like the other moms in the room who’d come to chauffeur their kids home, I was exasperated. While the boys stampeded, we tried sorting through the pile of white separates on the dojo floor, some labeled, most not, all identical.

Meanwhile, the lone dad in the room ignored the cacophony of yells and threats from the mothers, and shrugged, “Boys will be boys.”

Really?

I snarled and muttered under my breath as I corralled my group and led them out of the building. As we drove home I wondered if my aggravation was worth it. Was there really anything wrong with letting my sons blow off a little bit of post-karate steam? Was I being uptight and unrealistic by expecting them to clean up after themselves, take care of their own property and be ready to leave when it was home-time so that their chauffeur could don a chef’s hat and make them dinner?

Or was “boys will be boys” simply an excuse for no longer bothering to parent our sons? Even in my own family, I’m the one who is expected to do the right thing and generally be an overall mensch, while my younger brother is feted if he remembers to call. Boys will be boys? Or learning to manage expectations?

A 2010 British study showed that from age four, girls were perceived as being smarter than boys. The study also pointed out that both genders believed that the grown-ups thought the girls were better behaved than the boys. Talk about self-fulfilling prophesy! If everyone expects little boys to act like bums, they may as well, right?  My brother used to laugh at this conundrum – all he has to do is show up and he’s a hero. Ferris Bueller’s sister-syndrome? Anyone? Anyone?

Sometimes it’s a challenge to remember that all kids act, well, childishly. But my man and I promised each other early on that we’d do our best to raise self-reliant, respectful, well-behaved sons. Boys may be boys but, dammit, they’ll be well-behaved boys! My guys now know they are more than welcome to run riot post-program – as long as their stuff is packed up and their coats are on. It wasn’t always this way, but I’ll take the small victories where I can get them. And now when I see that lone dad in the dojo trying to tame his wild child, I smile and try my best not to be smug. As Anne Frank said “Boys will be boys. And even that wouldn’t matter if we could prevent girls from being girls.”

(Photo: Pixland)