One Friday, a couple weeks ago, I had one of "those mornings." You know the ones where you are running late, the baby cries when you put him down, the 8 year old cries because his video game got shut off, the husband picks a fight with the 8 year old and you are left to pick up the pieces, get everyone to school on time (after first explaining why they actually do need to go to school and that no, being sad about a video game does not warrant a sick day) and somehow get to work on time. And as I was finally enjoying my morning drive, thoughts about the morning episode started to creep into my precious alone time.
My thoughts seemed to focus on how can men and women can be so different. Honestly, no woman I know would fight with an 8 year old about a video game on a school morning - just let it go and get the hell out of the house. I love my husband, I truly do and I am very lucky because I consider him my best friend. But every now and then, the thought creeps in that my best girl friend would never do that. For example, the other night my husband was sitting in his recliner, watching basketball and playing on Facebook. It was 10 pm (way past my bedtime) and there I was, still folding laundry. He looked at me, completely serious, and asked me if I could get him a snack. Seriously?! This is when I think, "my girl-friends would never do that!"
So what exactly makes men and women so different? Who knows, definitely not me. They say it actually has to do with the way our brains work. I am not sure if I'm buying that, but now the mother to 4 boys I am reluctantly starting to agree. Like most females, I spent most of my life until now (and including now) living in frustration with the male gender. And most of you ladies will agree, they just don't get it. I was thoroughly convinced that they were all doing it on purpose to drive me crazy. Doing what you ask - everything! They were ignoring me, not returning my calls (or even avoiding them), making a mess, being gross, being immature, anything and everything opposite of me and my girlfriends - as if somehow they had a choice to be like them or to be like us.
And then I had my son.
When I found out I was having a boy, my first thought was what am I going to do with a boy? I don't even know how to handle the grown up ones, never mind the baby ones...as if a little alien was about to move in. Fast forward nine years, four boys and a husband later and I am still baffled most of the time. While I have learned to predict my boys' behaviors and have learned to co-exist better with them, I still wouldn't say I understand them. Why, for example, do they refuse to share their feelings? When guys are upset about something, regardless of whether they are 8 or 4o, they don't voluntarily share. Brooding is the best way I can explain it. They become quiet and grumpy and get mad about something stupid like what show you are watching on tv. And even when you ask, they won't admit that anything is wrong. So finally, 3 days and many fights later they will finally admit what is wrong - talk about wasting time. We girls will tell everyone who will listen what is wrong with-in seconds of the injustice. We will phone our friends, post it on Facebook and use it as a good excuse to drink a bottle of wine (as if we need one). And in an hour or so we will start to feel better - talk about saving time!
I should have known something was up when I took my first son to the playground when he was two. I can still picture it like it was yesterday. The swings and slides could not compare to the cars whizzing by on the other side of the chain-linked fence. I think he stood there for 30 minutes, his little hands holding onto the fence, just watching the cars go by with a huge smile on his face. Thirty minutes is along time for a two year old to stand still for anything, never mind something as boring as that. I guess that makes me a girl. So it turns out that the stereotypes mostly hold true that little boys like trucks, balls and destroying things while little girls like dolls, dressing up and tea-parties.
So where does that leave us? Pretty much right where we started, literally. We are born different, raised different and end up different. The trick is learning how to live with each other and try to appreciate those differences especially in moments of shear frustration. I can definitely appreciate the simplicity that men offer; usually what you see is what you get. I wish I could learn how to incorporate that outlook into my life a little bit more, as long as they would try to clean up the mess they swear they don't even see - just once!