Recently, I was having lunch with a group of women friends who only have daughters. They were bemoaning, as women at lunch love to do, the habits of their husbands. You know: the dirty clothes on the floor, the snoring, the need to own the remote. Oh yeah, and peeing into bushes because that’s easier than asking directions to a gas station when you’re on a road trip.
“I want to live on Girl Island,” my friend Carla said. “Sometimes I don’t think I was meant to live with a man.”
I thought about this as we parted, and decided that, if I had to choose, it would definitely be Boy Island for me.
I have three sons and two daughters. Nothing against girls – I love my daughters and cherish every minute I spend with them – but the boys keep me sane. Throw kids together at a picnic, and the girls circle each other, wary as cats, while the boys pick the top dog in minutes and all play together. Girls on the school bus make each other cry with a word or a look, yet it might be weeks before you hear about it or even figure out exactly why your daughter was so upset. Boys? They’re either really mad and throwing something, or so happy that they’re yelling and singing in the shower.
Girls do art projects without getting glue and paint all over the furniture and each other. Girls will sit in the kitchen with you, sometimes, too, and let you know what their teacher wore that day and what their English papers are about. Meanwhile, the boys say school was “uh, okay” and just want to ride their bikes, or show you how cool it is to put cereal in the ice dispenser and then hold a glass of milk under it.
Most of all, boys like to puzzle over the wonders of the world. Last week I drove my 12 year-old son and his friends to the skateboard park. It was kind of like riding around with the editors of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: “Did you know that more people are killed by vending machines than by sharks every year?” “If everyone in China was chewing gum and spit it out at the same time, would there be enough gum to cover Rhode Island?” “Did the Egyptians invent glass?” “There are probably 1800 thunderstorms happening in the Earth’s atmosphere right now, that we can’t even see!”
At the skateboard park, the boys were out of the car almost before I had it in park, donning helmets and pads and zooming off to a place that probably wouldn’t exist on Girl Island: a place where 360 is a verb and you can do ollies, grinds and slides while wearing brightly colored puffy sneakers. A place where Moms, alas, can only visit for a short time before they’re banished.