As toddlers, the difference between boys and girls is at its height. SMOG’s (smug mothers of girls) look in horror as small boys shout and scream, fight with sticks, push each other, pretend to be cars, aeroplanes, tractors etc and generally career around at breakneck speed 24/7, while the girls learn to write their name, play dressing up and sit through three course meals without moving!!!
Fast foward to the teenage years and some of the SMOG’s are not quite so smug, as their precious little darlings turn into chain smoking, vodka drinking shopaholics. Mostly still nice girls, but definatley more tricky and often less affectionate than those big hulking boys, who still dont sit still and eat enough to keep a small supermarket stocked for a week.
As the mother of both sexes I can be equally appreciative and frustrated by the differences between boys and girls and often wonder if this is because of their gender or simply their individual personalities. I feel lucky to be able have an insight into both worlds and feel they benefit from gaining a perspective on the opposite sex from the privacy of their own home. Although I know they both long to have a sibling of their own sex.
Having spent a week over the summer camping with six teenage boys (and no girls) I entered a world I had never encountered before. My 13 year old self couldn’t believe my luck, I was hanging out with the cool boys, the star of the football team, the singer in the local band, the teen model. I felt like an extra (well a spare part actually!!) in an Abbercrombie and Fitch shoot. What struck me most about them was their simplicity and honesty.
They constantly bantered and joked and felt no qualms about telling each other if they weren’t up to scratch in some way. After what I thought was a particulary harsh comment, I finally said something.
‘You boys are very harsh. Girls are always telling each other how gorgeous they are and how much they love each other’. The boy in question answered, ‘yes but they back bite all the time, you dont want to hear what they say about you when they walk out of the room, at least we are honest.’
I was silenced and humbled. My teenage memories came flooding back. I was always in a constant state of angst about my friendships and wasted so much time and energy either bitching or being bitched about. How refreshing that the boys could see that, and what I percieved as harsh, they saw as honest.
Over the next few days I gained an insight not only into teenage boys, but I saw the kind of men that they will become. Kind, helpful, charming, intelligent, enthusiastic and game for anything, some of them a little bit cheeky, some of them charming with the ladies and a couple of them quieter and more sensitive.
I often feel it’s difficult to be a teenage boy in todays society, as they are often misunderstood and maligned, when actually there is only a very small minority of bad ones and a Hell of a lot of lovely boys, who my very lucky teenage daughter will hopefully meet one day.