Monday, April 2, 2007

Bringing Up Boys

This weekend was all about boys.My eldest invited a friend up from Virginia. Two neighborhood boys joined in. Four boys, three days and two nights. The Washington Post published an article this weekend about boys - mentioning their frontal lobe development. Or lack thereof. Specifically, boys take longer to gain the ability to make good decisions. They require much more structure, scheduling, and boundary setting than girls of the same age.

Keep this in mind.

On Saturday night, they decided to go for pizza. A friend's mother would drive them.

This was the plan:
They would head back to the house at eight, conference the mothers in by phone, and finalize the itinerary. They also asked to go to the mall. I said no to the mall, citing a lack of time, and yes to the pizza, with the understanding that we'd finalize it at 8pm.

And this is what happened:
My husband and I decided to take the dog for a long walk. Keep in mind that we do this every evening, weather permitting. Every. Evening. We put the dog on her leash and set out at a leisurely pace. It was barely seven, we had plenty of time. We stopped to chat up neighbors and dogs; we lingered for a while at the pier. At quarter til eight, we strolled back to the front door.

Which was locked.

"Not a problem," said my husband, who trooped around to the backyard to open the ground level patio door.

Which was locked.

He trooped up the deck stairs to open the dining room sliding doors.

I don't have to tell you, do I?

Knocking at the door produced no boys. We hadn't brought along keys - we never bring along keys when we walk the dog. Which we do every night.

A quick walk to Kid #1's house revealed that the boys had traveled to Kid #2's house, gotten in the car, and gone for pizza. According to plan, if you completely leave out waiting for parents to coordinate and going at the previously discussed time. Small details like that.

My son, helpful boy that he is, stopped at the house before going for pizza. Finding no parents, and no dog, he concluded we'd left for the evening without discussing it with him, or taking our cell phones, or either of the two cars which were parked in the garage. So he helpfully locked all the doors he could find, and took his key with him to the pizza parlor.

We hung out on the back deck, pondering whether we'd missed something. We'd arrived home in time. Check. We'd followed our usual dog walking routine, which has never involved house keys. Check. We were still parents who were supposed to be notified before the child put himself into a vehicle to leave the neighborhood. Check.

Frontal Lobe. Decision Making. Frontal Lobe. Decision Making.

We finally caught up with the boys by having one of the mothers call. They laughed loudly at the prospect of us being locked outside.

Frontal Lobe. Decision Making. This is not their fault.

My son, good boy that he is, had the sense to not be laughing when they finally got home. "I'm sorry," he said. "I messed up."

And it was fine, really. Saturday was a beautiful day. The husband and I smooched on the deck (after trying all the doors again). The dog ran laps in the dark yard. It was no big deal, especially once we got up and read that boys struggle to make common sense decisions at this age.

It wasn't his fault. His frontal lobe? It's all askew.

If only I'd known this when dating in high school.

1 comment:

mzteesmiles said...

I have a daughter and her friends who seem to have adopted me as there mothers yet somehow I never know where anyone is. plans are made/finalized (so we think ) then the girls change them. LOl