Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tween Boys 101

I had lofty plans for my vacation recently.
Nothing too ambitious, for I gave up scheduling the days about a decade ago.
I am a mother. I know my lot.
The idea was to take my freed-from-elementary-school 10-year-old to the beach as many days as possible.
My personal goal? Read as many magazines as possible and knit up a storm.
B. was cooperative on the Hammonasset front — if he could bring a friend.
Forgot for a second there I was intolerable company for a little boy.
Sure, I said.
Five minutes on the road and, despite just eating breakfast, B. is hungry. So is friend.
Breakfast sandwiches all around.
Thirty-five minute drive is too long, proclaim the boys, madly fingering their PSPs and Nintendos. Yelling things to each other in hand-held game parlance. B. tells me to stop talking when I try to make conversation.
Reduced to thinking while driving and blocking out inane tween back and forth.
I park and start to unload the car. The two guys actually begin walking toward the beach, with no intention of carrying a darn thing.
Situation swiftly corrected.
First thing the boys do is walk the stone breakwater at Meigs Point. Have to remind them about sunscreen. Have to apply said sunscreen if want them screened from sun — times two. Seems not only can they not reach their backs, but the backs (and fronts) of their legs, faces, necks, arms and torsos.
Next up on their agenda? Finding crabs. I offer to show them where they are likely found, under half-wet rocks during low tide, past the observation deck.
Seems my role is crab hunter, theirs is crab-hunter watcher.
Oh, and crab picker-upper. These snakes-and-snails-and-puppy-dog-tails are squeamish.
I’m discovering so many things about my son this week.
Other observations: B. loves to swim in the ocean — but only if Mom goes in too.
He won’t drink slightly warm ice tea, eat grapes, cherries, mint jelly, any drink that says “100-percent juice,” thinks a hamburger with mustard and ketchup is a complete meal, believes you can never eat enough ice cream for one day, thinks there’s nothing wrong with playing Runescape on the computer for eight hours straight, will wear his sneakers to bed if he’s too tired to take them off, doesn’t know how to put the shower on in the house we’ve lived in for four years, would stay seated at the kitchen computer until dying of starvation rather than making a sandwich for himself, and thinks sandles for boys, plaid shorts, leaf-green and mango-colored shirts are “for girls.”
I may not have gotten in my “beach reads” or finished the Frock Camisole I’ve been knitting for two months, but I’ve learned much about the psychology of the American boy pre-teen.

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