We spent Labor Day weekend with a group of friends at the Oregon Coast. The last gasp of Summer 2012. Two houses, and ours was the boy house. At various points in the weekend, there were seven boys, aged 4 months to 6 years, tearing through the house. That’s Kai at left, who I managed to fall in love with, in spite of his dad Kenji being Japanese.
You already know the weekend was nuts, so you probably think I’m going to go all downer on you, but not today, friends. Try this on for size: boys are awesome. Throw in the reliably amusing behavior of their dads, and it all added up to an epic weekend of observing all the different ways in which men can be men.
The weekend reaffirmed for me everything I’ve known since I was 17 and told my high school boyfriend that I wanted three sons. And that is, that boys rule.
As I was saying, boy behavior is really fun to observe. Here’s Garrett, a stellar boy child who spent most of the weekend clicking photos on a little fake camera and dragging his brown blanket around. See that bit stuck in his nose right there? That’s the “Stinky Part.” The part that Garrett sticks in his mouth and nose, the part that soothes him as no other part of the blanket can. The part he asks for by name. Garrett’s mom Michele worries that there’s actual mold in the Stinky Part, but he’s a stubborn one. Boys can be that way.
Garrett found a mate in Tate, my chill kid who is usually doing his own thing away from the crowd. In the pic below, there’s a group of sand castle makers, and then Tate, in the distance, making an offering to the sea. He played silently by himself in this manner for a long stretch of time, only pausing to snack on handfuls of sand and some charred wood from a bonfire.
But not even Tate could resist the fun of romping around with a bunch of boys all weekend. And that’s the beauty of boys. Get a bunch of them together, and they physically cannot stay apart. They’re like magnets. The touching inevitably leads to fighting, so you try to nip it in the bud and pull them apart early on, but why? Then you’d miss out on moments like this.
Or this. BTW we don’t think Garrett was going for a Nazi salute. Or that Finn intended to hug his brother by the face. But with boys, sometimes the execution can be a little rough.
Big boys are fun to observe too. Michigan played Alabama over the weekend. Luckily for the group, we can claim as our own, the two most long-suffering Michigan fans west of Ann Arbor. When I met Tom, Michigan was winning, and things were different–he was obsessed, but justifiably so, and while the team might lose a game or two, the season always ended on a happy note. These days, watching Whitey and Tom sit through a Michigan game is akin to watching two people flagellate themselves. It’s all very sad to observe. But also, very funny.
Here they are, mid-game. Note Whitey, self-medicating. Note Chris, in background, bored. Note Tom, looking like he’s passing a stone. Please also note that I’ve actually watched Tom pass a kidney stone, and he looked less pained then than he does here.
Probably due to the strain from staring at a TV that hard for four hours while willing it to show something other than a 41-14 loss, Tom woke up the next day with a bruised, purple eyelid. He admitted early on that it didn’t hurt, but that doesn’t mean the eye didn’t make its presence felt throughout the remainder of the weekend. In fact, given Tom’s intense focus on his eye, you would think that the eyeball had fallen out or was hanging on by a single nerve. When I asked if anyone needed anything at the store, the sole request came from Tom, who mewled that he could use some hydrocortisone and Advil. When he disappeared for an hour before dinner, I found him hiding under a duvet, sleeping. When I poked him awake, he yelled that he was “resting his eye.”
Tom spent a good part of Saturday googling his symptoms on his phone, with no firm diagnosis. For the record: if you google “purple” and “eyelid,” you will quickly land on “eyelid dermatitis.” It took me like 17 seconds, as it might take you—assuming, I guess, that you are female. If you are male, you might start with “purple eyelid,” get distracted by game highlights on ESPN, and then find yourself watching Kate Upton doing the Dougie on YouTube, two hours later. No joke, my friend Ethan has watched that video like 3700 times. But I’m rambling again. I guess if Tom had managed to diagnose his eye, he couldn’t have enjoyed lurking in the background all weekend with a dishtowel pressed to his face. Here he is, photo-bombing poor baby Graham.
Boys are wild. Boys are rambunctious. Boys can be hooligans. But I’d argue that boys have a capacity for uncomplicated joy—expressed through flying-ninja kicks, overeager hugs, and go-go-go—that is second to none. Boys have no talent for artifice, and call a spade a spade, even if that spade means offering the unsolicited opinion that you have a moustache. They love and feel pain with everything they have. And if you’re lucky, your boys turn into men like the ones here: complicated, challenging, indomitable, and my God—so damn amazing.
I love this post. There’s a lot to love about the boys and men in our lives.
preach. and don’t forget the girls!
Girl, you had me simultaneously laughing and crying at the same time! I have three boys (8, 5 and 1 month) and I totally feel you on the “boys are amazing” tip. I grew up around my dad and brother and have always felt at home among men. They don’t feel the need to front and embrace tomfoolery at epic levels. Thanks for shouting the other half out 🙂
Love it! Having boys means you understand that parkour is obviously the only way to move from room to room, everything is a gun or sword or lightsaber, nothing gets handed to you – it must be thrown, and an hand not in the nose is a hand in the pants.
i love this comment because i was watching american ninja warrior (i alternate between this and wipeout) and all the contestants are parkour aficionados, and then i realized, my kids would be AWESOME at parkour
we have been watching both those shows and it’s generated a lot of discussion about weight to strength ratios. my 10 year old feels he’s more appropriate for wipe out due to his “sturdier” frame. my five year old (he was at lil’ kickers with your son, btw) has been begging to go to Las Vegas so he can , and I quote, “dominate on the mountain madonna”. i believe, i hope, he means Mount Midoriama.
Omg!!! Mount midoriama. We are so simpatico. Who is your son? Are you Kai’s mom?
I’m Teague’s mom, but he is now playing outdoor soccer instead of lil’ kickers. Teague was the tall kid who runs like a soldier – very determined and focused – and has the big older brother who always looked really bored. I work with Rosalyn; she turned me on to your blog. I love it!
Ah, I hope to meet you sometime! Here’s how I know we are really simpatico: we were going to name Finn Taigh
yoona – there is an indoor parkour course here in Portland – did you know? I have a friend that does it – Finn & Tate would probably love it.
now Sarah does that seem like something I would know? 😉 but I’m glad I do now…
So funny and warm and so true. . I have 4 sons ( and at one point had 6, counting 2 foster sons, between the ages of 10.5 and 5). Often it was like a litter of puppies, just tumbling around together. But so fun. Love you seeing the fun of the grown up boys too.
my friend calls boys bear cubs. bear cubs, litter of puppies, either is perfectly apt
Oh you crack me up Yoona! So delighted I found your blog. Hilarious. I have a baby boy too, just a year and a half. They can be a handful, but so much fun. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a washing machine on very fast spin-dry. And I agree with the execution being rough- my nephew and son sometimes get entangled!
love that analogy, particularly given how much boy laundry i do
Of course dear Yoona, I can totally relate to this amazing weekend. Don’t forget that I gave birth to four sons….and at some point in my own life I thought that they were four horses!!!the way they ate and behaved…but I survived and know they are all grown men, all kind, funny and best of all happy!!!!
let me just say this, dear maria: i will consider myself to have done something right when one of my boys shows up to zumba with me
Boys are still a bit of a mystery since I grew up with just a mom and sister, but I share your sentiment. Also, friendships with boys/men are wonderful and easy.
This is off topic, but I think your book should be about you and Tom. Those are the bits of your writing I find to be the most hilarious/charming/heartening. Is his eyelid still purple? Now I won’t be able to help myself from staring at him at pick-up to catch sight of it.
friendships with men are so much easier. especially in those middle teenage years when girls can seem so mean. i love to write about tom. he’s a never-ending source of inspiration for me. he just keeps giving and giving. and his eyelid is still purple. i offered to make him a patch but he said no. can you imagine how much the boys would have dug that???
How often does one get a chance to wear a patch? That’s a missed opportunity there.
Your sarcasm leaves me in stitches. Can’t wait for your book…
if only i could replicate myself. or halve the time my kids require of me. that sounds terribly un-maternal, doesn’t it
I’ve always said I’m only having a child when I can be guaranteed a boy.
but if you have a girl, you will have awesome stories to tell from that side of it. and cuter kids’ clothes. but best not to tempt fate! for what it’s worth, tom wanted girls. that’s probably why we got boys
You’re not the first to tell me something along those lines. Glad you had such a nice trip!
There’s something about boys (of any age) gathered around large bodies of water. The presence of (enough) water induces various gathering, throwing, and damming up activities. Often followed by a strong desire to build fires. All conducted via shouted orders approximating twice outdoor normal dry land volumes. Male babies should come with warning labels: Volume increases exponentially when wet.
So ‘fess up. Did you get home with any “extra” little boys?
there is something primal about boys near water, you are right. and if by your question, you mean what i think you mean, i laugh at the idea of intimacy in such a setting. in all seriousness, i’d dig a third but it’s not in the cards…
I LOVE IT! I’m sooooooooo looking forward to adding a boy to my life soon!
yay! the only thing that sucks about boys is that only 17% of the clothes in every kid’s store are for boys. my friend chris suggested i do a “downers” on that, and i think i will
Wonderful post celebrating boys. I grew up with two brothers and a sister, and we always did our own thing. So I loved reading this post–made me think of and see the boys in my life in a new light.
i grew up with one brother, and we are close but he is far away, in seoul. reading your comment makes me miss him, and the days when we were together in one house.
“That’s Kai at left, who I managed to fall in love with, in spite of his dad Kenji being Japanese.” Can you explain that one for me?
Yeah. It’s a running joke on my blog, refers to historical tension between Korea and Japan. Not serious.
*Sigh of relief*
I love the group picture under “Or this. BTW we don’t think Garrett was going for a Nazi salute. Or that Finn intended to hug his brother by the face. But with boys, sometimes the execution can be a little rough.” Pretty much sums up the boy experience! 🙂
I’m entertained by this, mostly because I’m coming from the other direction—my Japanese grandmother has mellowed enough to enjoy lunch at a Korean restaurant by herself, which is a big deal for someone who was a Japanese American in World War II. We were wrong about lots of things, I will be the first to admit.
yes, kenji-san and i made big steps towards healing the wounds on behalf of our mother countries this weekend. funny how these things get passed down with each generation–probably serves a function, so that we don’t repeat the past. i do love sushi though