Boys Will Be Boys


I am surrounded by aliens. I mean boys. How did this happen?

Truth be told,  I have always liked boys. Beginning at age five, I always had a lot of friends who were boys. We would be out bike riding, playing hide and seek and other games in the neighborhood and just hanging out.  As I got older, I loved having guy friends. They were easy to spend time with, had a good sense of humor and there was never any drama. I always wanted to ski with the guys and have memories of being the only girl in college playing ping-pong late at night in the common room. After graduating from college, I went to work in Boston for two different investment banks and again found myself surrounded by men who became my close friends.  So, you would think I would be prepared for what was to come. A family life surrounded by men. How great that could be!

Here is the thing. I grew up in a family of three sisters.  I never had brothers. Never lived with boys. I remember my father making jokes about being surrounded constantly by females and how tough it could be, especially when on a vacation and every female has their “monthly friend” visiting.

Ok, so boys don’t get their period and there isn’t any drama. This could be fun.

In some ways I was prepared for what was to come and in others ways, not so much.

When I was pregnant with my children my main concern was they enter this world healthy. And thankfully they both did. Both times I was pregnant I had this gut feeling that I was having a boy. Not that there is anything wrong with that but my fantasies of shopping, going for manicures and long talks into the night vanished quickly after the birth of my first and then second son.

My goal was to give my boys a balanced view of the world, to show them the strength that women have and teach them respect, how to communicate and to demonstrate emotion. I began reading books about how to raise boys. My favorite was “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson.  I had all kinds of plans for my boys.

Then the testosterone started flowing. My house was filled with trucks, cars, footballs, baseballs, basketballs, hockey sticks, skateboards, hammers, guns, you name it. I would look out the window at the swing set and Josh who was three years old at the time was removing and re-attaching the swings to create a rope course he could swing from 7 feet above. Wrestling was a constant. “Physical” was the word of the house and the boys would regularly freak me out when they were beating each other up to resolve some type of dispute. One would be slamming the other into a wall and I would be standing there thinking this was not going to end well.

Boy power aside, I made an effort to weave some of my interests into the mix.  We would spend time together going to the movies, going out for meals and even shopping.

Then puberty struck. Our talks about feelings ended and so did our jaunts to the mall and going out to lunch.

All of a sudden they started telling me that I am talking to much, acting too dramatic, asking too many questions and that I was acting (no, not that word) CRAZY.

Ok, now the women reading this are thinking, “Ha, of course they would say that. You are not crazy.” And the men reading this are thinking, “I totally know what those boys are talking about.”

I have now become the alien. Yes it is true. Men are from Mars and Women from Venus. No matter how hard I tried to change the course of nature, it is what it is.

So, now I find myself in this alien world to the extreme. Both boys are back under my roof this summer and they are old enough to bond with my husband like fraternity brothers. Clothes are everywhere…..I dare not walk into their rooms. Dishes in the sink….Beer cans found in places they shouldn’t be…Toilet seat left up. Manners out the door. You can use your imagination. I am told this is normal for guys and under no circumstance is any of this behavior allowed for girls. Hmmmm.

I am blessed to have 2 wonderful sons. They are good and caring people. That is the truth.

Another truth is daily living can be a challenge. Soon though they will go into the world, leave my home and have to somehow figure out how to live with a woman, if that is their choice. I will be smiling as they leave their planet Mars, stop at Venus to pick up their mate and come back to earth and figure out how to make it all work.

In the meantime I think I’ ll go do some shopping and then get a manicure.

About Shari

I am a two-time cancer survivor and patient advocate. Diagnosed as a young adult, at age 25 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had to quickly face the reality of life’s curveballs. My treatment offered a potential cure while at the same time, underestimated the long term side effects including a secondary cancer (breast cancer) nine years later. Shortly after my breast cancer treatment ended, my youthful, seemingly healthy mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and passed a year later. I have lived the cancer experience as a patient and a family member/ caregiver and understand both sides. Life after treatment is often challenging emotionally and physically and there is a gap in providing needed support. I don’t consider cancer a gift as it is not something I would ever want to give to someone. Rather, I view cancer as an opportunity; one I received at an early point in my life to live intentionally, understanding how things can change at any moment. I live without regrets, fully understanding the gift and fragility of life.
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