published Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Kennedy: In case you were wondering, little boys do odd things

Boys, boys, boys.

Sometimes my family is so immersed in boy culture that I wonder what it must be like to have girls. In my daydreams, daughters are Sugar Plum Fairies who never fight, induce stress or stink.

The other night we were watching the Lady Vols in the College Softball World Series. At an incredibly stressful moment in the game, the camera showed the Lady Vols -- including several with colorful ribbons in their hair -- in their dugout doing a pattycake cheer.

How sweet, I thought.

Meanwhile, an opposing batter stepped to the plate and flashed a smile at her third-base coach.

"Why is she smiling?" my 11-year-old son snapped. "Her team is behind."

Boys compete.

A few hours earlier, my younger son, who's 6, had shown up beside my easy chair with a goofy grin on his face.

"Bubby kicked my toof out while we was wessling," he said, flashing a bloody, snaggletoothed smile and slinging saliva like he'd blown a head gasket.

"Nice," I said.

"Yeah, and he caught his tooth in the air before it hit the ground," big brother announced proudly.

"Attaboy," I said, and offered the little guy a fist bump.

A few days earlier, older brother had made short work of little brother's other dangling front tooth with a sharp elbow in a freak breakfast accident involving Froot Loops.

Don't ask how.

Boys are chaos on a cracker.

There must be plenty of families out there who have only daughters and wonder what it's like to raise only boys. I decided to make a list of things daughter-only families may not know.

* Boys never stop eating. It's not that they eat between meals; it's that the meals never end. My younger son informed me the other day that he was ready for his midmorning, after-breakfast, before-lunch dessert.

Not only that, but he wanted me to recite the dessert menu like a pastry chef.

Whatever.

Meanwhile my older son thinks a one-pound bag of pretzels is a single-serving size. Incredibly, they never gain weight.

* Boys are flatulent. Sometimes our family room sounds like we are hosting tryouts for the trombone section. If I was building a new house from scratch, I'd have an exhaust fan built into every room.

To boys, this is a form of recreational therapy that makes them so giddy their eyes roll back in their heads -- even as their mom chases them around the house.

* Boys bathe only under protest. Many times I have dragged a mud-caked boy to the bathroom while he kicked and screamed, "I am not dirty, Daddy!"

"You're right," I'll allow. "You're not dirty, you're filthy."

* Boys don't like to change clothes. We have friends with a 12-year-old daughter who changes clothes five times a day. Our boys would be happy if they could only change clothes five times a month.

In the summer, they argue about whether what they have on are street clothes or pajamas.

Sometimes when they strip down to take a bath, their dirty socks stand up on their own -- without feet in them. (See: "Boys only bathe under protest.")

* Boys are brave. OK, there might be some room for debate here.

The other day, my big, athletic, 11-year-old son came bolting through the back door, eyes wide.

"What's wrong?" his mother asked.

"A turtle," he said breathlessly. "A turtle from the creek was chasing me up the street."

Oh my. He'd better be glad his daddy wasn't home to see this.

A few days later, while out on a family walk, I couldn't resist kneeling down by the creek and pretending to be pulled under.

"Help me, help me, the turtle monster has my arm," I moaned.

My older son rode by on his bicycle and spit out a little giggle.

Oh, well. Boys will be boys, but I guess we'll keep them.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedy columnist.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is a Times Free Press columnist and editor. He writes the "LIfe Stories" human interest column for the City section and the "Family Life" column for the Life section. He also writes an automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for ...

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