Going Through Their Changes

By Felice Prager

Going Through Their Changes

When I was pregnant and was asked if I wanted a boy or girl, my answer was that I did not want a girl. I never said I wanted a boy. This left very few options.

There was a legitimate reason. During my teen years, I was rebellious, especially toward my parents. I did not want to give birth to one of ME! I had also taught in a middle school, and I knew I wasn’t an exception to the rule. Fretful parents arriving for conferences would say things like, “She is impossible. There is no living with her! Will she grow out of this? Do you know of any good boarding schools?” When a girl reaches a certain age, a girl changes. The thought of living with someone like me was worse than any fears I had of going through labor.

I was also never a girly-girl. I never liked dresses, frills or fancy things. I was happiest in jeans and a tee shirt. I preferred playing with trucks to dolls. I felt, knowing this, I would do a disservice to a daughter should I have one who wasn’t a tomboy. I would not even know how to dress her.

So, I had boys. Two of them.

My world was calm and peaceful with an occasional bruise or fracture for the first dozen years. With my sons, I had to learn to close my eyes when they were trying new biking or skating tricks. But there weren’t any meltdowns or explosions, at least not emotional ones.

Then, suddenly, just as with girls, the world changed, but with boys, it was different. Their first dozen years were pockets filled with creepy, crawly things, smelly clothes and handprints on the walls. Boys were stupid jokes, collections of things found in the street and a mishmash of disheveled parts. No matter how tomboyish I might have been when I was a child, I was not a boy. I still liked bubble baths and clean clothes. I may have preferred boy games and toys to girl games and toys, but underneath, there was a girly-girl trying to get out.

And then it happened. Just as girls change when hormones kick in, there is also a metamorphosis with boys. They start spending time in the bathroom experimenting with their hair. They try to shave, even though there isn’t one piece of facial hair on them. They request haircuts, sometimes odd and colorful. They ask to go shopping for clothes, even though the clothes they have fit and are not filled with holes or stains. They continue to act gawky and tell stupid jokes, but usually it’s for an audience, generally one containing a particular girl, who, oddly, is considerably taller than the boy.

I knew this when I taught, but I forgot it when it was time for me to raise my own children. Boys who were nonentities to me suddenly stuck out of the crowd because of a desire to dress differently or comb their hair differently. At school dances, packs of boys would arrive dressed neatly and with their hair perfectly combed. In the classroom, I saw more boys tip over in chairs because they were acting cocky by pushing themselves back on two legs of the chair with their hands folded behind their heads.

With my own sons, the transformation also happened during middle school. Suddenly I was buying hair gel, aftershave and cologne, setting regular appointments with the hairdresser and buying them clothes. When it was my turn to drive my sons to the movies or a party, the smell of cologne was overwhelming. The music got louder, the telephone and internet became busier and, slowly, my sons were becoming young men.

Last week, I drove my younger son to the orthodontist to get his braces taken off. While he was in the office and I was in the waiting room, twin girls exited the examination area, both with their mouths closed. When the pretty young twenty-something receptionist with the red hair said, “You were un-banded today! Let me see those smiles,” the girls shyly showed their perfect teeth. When my son came out, the receptionist did not have to ask. My son went over to the desk of this pretty receptionist, leaned in, propped his chin on his fist, and said, “See anything different?” Then he flashed the new perfect smile!

There is another plus to boys. There comes a time when they bring home girls. My older son has been bringing home the same girl for quite a while. I like her a lot. I like to talk to her and share things with her, but mostly, I like the man my son has become when he is with her. Someday, if I’m really lucky, I’ll have a daughter, but this one will arrive full-grown, attached to my son’s arm.

About this writer

  • Felice Prager Felice Prager is a freelance writer and multisensory educational therapist from Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the author of five books: Waiting in the Wrong Line, Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Negotiations, TurboCharge Your Brain, SuperTurboCharge Your Brain, and Quiz It: ARIZONA. Her essays have been published locally, nationally and internationally in print and on the Internet. Learn more at www.WriteFunny.com.

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