Everything I Know About Men I Learned from My Sons

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Mars vs. Venus

#3 It's possible to be too thin if you're a male.

One day when TJ was 14 or so, he pointed out an extremely thin, perhaps unhealthy young man in the grocery store aisle. "Mom, would you say I'm as thin as him or thinner?" he whispered with an urgency usually reserved for very serious discussions. I stifled a laugh. Not only was TJ nowhere near as thin as the young man in question, but fabulously lean, handsome, and healthy looking. I told him so but he didn't believe me. I didn't object to the protein powder he wanted. Or, later the weight-lifting equipment. For a male, feeling scrawny is a million times worse than fat thighs or cellulite.

#4 Men really will rescue a damsel in distress.

When Leason was 13, I persuaded him to get involved in his school play. I think he volunteered to work on lighting. That is until I got a call a few afternoons later from his drama teacher. She wanted to cast him as Bernardo in West Side Story.

"Do you think he'll say yes?" she asked anxiously. Only if you don't ask him, I replied. Tell him he must take the role because there's no one else, I coached. From my sons I learned the secret of appealing to the males' natural gallantry. Sure enough, when Leason arrived home he opened the door with a bang. "Bad news," he said with obvious pride. "I have to be in the play." By the way, he made a wonderful Bernardo.

#5 Boys really don't understand girls.

When my boys each entered seventh grade, they settled down -- along with their other rowdy male pals. Even teachers who found their earlier boisterousness annoying began to like them. Especially because at this age, their cute, quiet, and polite female counterparts became nutty, hormone-induced drama queens. When my sons returned home from school, I heard daily reports of intense female hysteria -- crying and more crying. But if I asked my sons what actually happened, they were utterly and deeply clueless.

If I wanted to know, I talked to the girls or their mothers. The intricate complexities of preteen female culture -- the cliquishness, the intimate chats, unforgivable slights, and the like -- escaped my sons. They weren't all that interested. Of course, all that changed only few years later. Then, they had to play catch-up. And they are still catching up. As is their father. As are most of the men I know.

Continued on page 3:  Secret Cuddles


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