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.