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 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
Lessons From My Sons
by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
The past year has brought monumental changes to our family. Out of six children, one has divorced and joined the Marine Reserves (we are proud and frightened and hopeful), one has married and moved to Texas, and two have gone away to school. Of these changes, three involved girls. Which pretty much leaves me home with three guys most evenings and it has been an education!

Previously, I would have said that I was close to my boys and that we loved each other and enjoyed each otherís company. Which is true. What I didnít know was that all these years there were two separate and distinct camps and not only did the two camps (female and male) have different interests and concerns, but had completely different cultures. All those years I thought we were having family conversations, but we werenít. The girls and I were having conversations and Dad and the boys were having conversations and because, in a family this big thereís always a lot of hubbub, I didnít know it. Oh, I knew that sometimes our conversation would be interrupted briefly with an outburst of raucous laughter or an impromptu sword fighting demonstration or a dinner roll flying from one end of the table to be caught deftly at the other end, but I usually just growled, "Boys," in my "Mommy" voice and went back to discussing whether antique rose, dusty rose, dawn rose or blushing rose was prettier. Itís not like I didnít listen to the boys. I would listen until the word "booger" was used more than once in a sentence and then it was back to "hair up versus hair down." Leaving them to their own discussions.

But now I am stuck at dinner time with all boys at least three nights a week. And it has been an education. First of all, they evidentially knew about the "booger rule" and used it purposefully to get me to mind my own business. Secondly, there are way, way, way more references to their anatomy in any given conversation than I would EVER have guessed. And they have no self-esteem issues. Thirdly, not only are they not able to distinguish between "oyster" and "eggshell" unless it refers to the paint job on a 1965 Ĺ Mustang, but, they donít even care. At all. A whit.

After an entire dinner table conversation on the fine art of loogie hawking (and, I have come to learn, it is an art) I gave up and said they could fill their plates in the kitchen and eat in front of the TV. I know thatís not very good mothering, but I figure their personalities and habits are pretty firmly cemented by now. Itís not like I didnít try. They know how to act, how to sit up straight and keep their left hands in their laps. They have heard, "Like a ship upon the sea, I dip my spoon away from me," 149,722 times in their lives. Just before I gave up, I made the mistake of asking them what they would do if they found themselves dining with the Queen of England. This question always got the girls to lift their chins and make charming conversation. What I got from the boys was a solid ten minutes of possible scenarios ranging from the merely distasteful to the truly bizarre. So, if you are out there Your Majesty, unless you need some instruction on achieving maximum lift and distance when you expectorate, I am afraid my young gentlemen are not available for dinner engagements anywhere other than home. Except maybe the Primate House at the Zoo. If theyíre minding their manners.
© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" - June 15, 2005 Column
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