Saturday, August 22, 2009

The "Oy!" of boys

I have three sons, two in their mid-20's and one a young teenager. That amounts to drama cubed. Heart-stopping episodes and head-scratching times three. I also have a daughter, but she is a drama of a different flavor; the sort of drama that as a fellow female I can easily relate. But the boys? Oy!

My sons have provided me with over a dozen frantic trips to hospital emergency rooms. I receive very little information about any significant females in their lives, nor even basic information on their whereabouts in the world at times. They smell funny. Ergo, their bedrooms smell funny, foreign. Their feet grew/grow at ridiculously fast paces. They eat too much, too quickly, and leave the empty boxes, wrappers, and containers in the cupboard or in the refrigerator, or lounging on end tables, or perched on window sills, which is infuriating on several levels. One of which being they will complain about there not being any more cookies, chips, cereal, or soda,, yet heaven forbid they actually open their mouths to inform me of this until they are once again ravenous.

"Mom!" Kenny used to whine. "There's no food!"

I would walk into the kitchen to find him standing in front of the pantry, doors flung open. Pantry, full of food.

"What are you talking about?! Look at all of that!"

"I need good food. Food I can eat," he'd claim.

"And what would that be, pray tell?" I would ask, exasperated. "Give me details and when I go to the store next I will buy it."

"You know," he'd reply, grinning and walking away from the kitchen, "Good stuff."

This annoying and confusing scenario is currently being played out with Jack, the one boy remaining in my nest. He will become indignant that I haven't returned from the grocery store with his beloved Gushers, or pretzels or chocolate milk, yet when I checked inventory before leaving, said items were still present and accounted for. Why I am surprised that food vanishes in a whirl after raising two sons before him is a bafflement, but clearly I am constantly astonished anew.

The breaking and tearing and slicing of body parts on boys has been more drama than I believe I can handle and yet, each time it happens, I somehow manage to survive, right alongside of them. Kenny has broken his tibia twice, his wrist once, and several fingers were broken and smushed once when Blake - accidentally, on-purpose - slammed a door on Kenny's hand when they were ages eight and six, respectively.

Thirteen-year-old Jack's more dramatic injuries have included a significant, nine-stitch worthy, accidental gash to the upper forehead from a golf club-wielding Jess six years ago, the top of his middle finger being inadvertently sliced off by a heavy door two years ago (and luckily being sewn back on in the E.R. after yours truly found it smiling up from the pavement), and, most recently, he received 27 stitches to his cheek after a freak accident in his cabin at camp in Wyoming last month.

I sit or stand by them as they lie on the table in the hospital, gripping their hand as they are stitched or cast or prodded, blinking back tears as they try and do the same. I try not to vomit or faint. I smile though my heart is aching. There is no chapter on how to do this in any of those "What to Expect When..." tomes.

There has been no manual to prepare me for a son going into combat, or for one who wanders aimlessly through and around the United States, or Canada or Mexico; when Kenny is traveling outside of the U.S. he does not have a cell phone with international call capability. I am at the mercy of him perhaps gaining some internet access and posting a status that he is, blessedly, still alive.

Blake, by virtue of his profession in the military, will not communicate with me for weeks and on occasion for a couple of months, and I always feel that this is drama I could well do without.

"Boys will be boys," the adage goes, but it is not specific as to what the boy will do or say to bear out the expression. Parents of boys learn pretty early on though, I think, that boys actually do not always say, share or emote in a similar manner to girls, to daughters. Sons may tend to be a bit more spontaneous, reckless, fearless.

That said, sons are just like daughters, however, in their ability to at once break - and fully fill up - your heart. Neither the male or the female of offspring corners the market on that.

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