Having a son I thought surely I had gotten my hands on the one man on Earth a woman could understand. I was wrong.
My son is 14. He and his friends exist in a haze of hormones and Axe body spray (the scent that will take paint off the walls). They are all good looking boys, charming and athletic.
Still, at this age they are, as a whole, still poised between the little boys of snips and snails and puppy dog tail days and the more polished gems of the men they will, God willing, grow to be.
The girls at this age are gorgeous. They are all big voices, bright eyes and lip glossed plumage. They are clearly desperate to be noticed — and appreciated — by the boys. The boys, meanwhile, act as if they don’t exist. Publicly anyway. The boys seem mesmerized by the show, then scuttle away in fear.
Boywonder had a girlfriend a while back, a cute young thing. He thinks they broke up. He’s not sure. Confirming this fact would require speaking directly to her and that is not going to happen. They “went together” for about two weeks — this being a figure of speech, since neither is allowed to officially date.
They had a relationship in the way that I have a relationship with the local library or the Jiffy Lube. We have a nodding acquaintance and they send me messages from time to time reminding me that they haven’t seen me in a while. It works.
During that brief moment when they were an item, this sweet girl worked up the courage to sit by him on the bleachers before a big game once. He immediately got up and walked away.
In his defense, the move wasn’t mean spirited as much as self-absorbed. Ten minutes before kick-off he’s focused on his role of team captain and getting his game straight, not in idle chit-chat on the sidelines — even with a pretty girl who came expressly to see him. I know because I’m pretty cute and his mom and I’ve tried to no avail.
All kidding aside, I cringe when I see young ladies doing veritable twirls for attention while the boys crane their necks around them to see the game — or tell a good fart joke. Men!
I want to say to the girls “Honey quit trying so hard. Be yourself. If it’s meant to be, he’ll notice you, if it’s not, no amount of primping, preening and acting the fool in public is going to end well for you.”
A friend tells of waiting for her teenage son outside a formal dance. She watched as a beautiful young girl teetered out of the venue in sky high heels and a dress so small it may have been plucked from the toddler section. All the glories God gave her were in danger of popping up or falling out.
I’m sure that little girl felt she looked “hot.” What she really looked was sad. Being loud and showy might get you noticed, but it’s rarely the basis for a respectful relationship. This I s true whether you are 14 or 84.
It is my purely unscientific statistic that the young girls who have the hardest trouble understanding boys and how to relate to them in their native environment (would make a good documentary by the way) are the girls who do not have brothers.
Brotherless girls seem convinced that squealing, pestering and drawing endless attention to themselves is the way to win a boy’s heart. Girls with brothers, I suspect, know that’s a good way to earn an eye-roll and merciless teasing.
I did not grow up with any male influence and when I think of the time I wasted pining for some boy, sure he was thinking of me and the glance we had shared between second and third period, when in reality I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of me at all, I could weep.
I’m not saying the boys aren’t discussing girls — just that the enthusiasm for the subject pales in comparison to discussing hunting, athletics and the ability to someday drive a car on an actual public roadway.
Wondergirl, for her part, continues to show more confidence at 13 than I did at twice that age. She knows what boys are capable of — and what they are not. She doesn’t raise that bar too high. I think I have her brother to thank for that. She has shaken her head more times than I can count at her brothers cute — but clueless — demeanor.
She sees the girls prance and preen and she laughs, and smiles and says “good luck with that.” Or, as she likes to say, “You know he’s going to live with you forever, right?”
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt thinks an anthropological study of American teens is long overdue. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@Comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)