A Mother's Duty: Preparing Boys for Girls Commentator Gwen Macsai is the mother of two boys. She has no idea how to prepare her sons for the craziness of "girl world." And she's a bit worried about it.
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A Mother's Duty: Preparing Boys for Girls

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A Mother's Duty: Preparing Boys for Girls

A Mother's Duty: Preparing Boys for Girls

A Mother's Duty: Preparing Boys for Girls

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Commentator Gwen Macsai is the mother of two boys. She has no idea how to prepare her sons for the craziness of "girl world." And she's a bit worried about it.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Commentator Gwen Macsai is the mother of two boys, and she has no idea how to prepare her sons for the craziness of girls.

GWEN MACSAI:

My sons have a total of four emotional gears: happy, sad, mad and hungry. My daughter's emotional landscape, on the other hand, is like a tempest. She's been this way since she was four, and I've been this way all my life. So by now I'm pretty much used to the minefield that needs to be gingerly navigated 300 times a day.

But now they're getting older. And as I watch the boys blow milk out of their nose, laughing at fart sounds while their sister is upstairs re-enacting King Lear at the Globe, I wonder, `How do I prepare the happy, sad, mad, hungries for the diary-writing, drama-queening, secret-sharing, party-planning, friendship-analyzing, phone-mongering, psychological tsunamis that await them?' And I can tell you I have no idea.

(Soundbite of music)

MACSAI: If you were walking into a black hole, a vacuum, an abyss, you'd have a better idea of what to expect than these poor innocents do as they toddle off on the road to adolescence. They're like so many Mr. Magoos, completely blind to the maelstrom of X chromosomes that are going to run circles, laps, tornados around them.

(Soundbite of music)

MACSAI: In the hall, they'll be saying `hi' to a girl in passing. In the nook, in a doorway, in a subhall of the hall, the girls and her friends will be analyzing the `hi' for tone, pitch, timbre, level of enthusiasm, accompanying smile or lack thereof, demeanor, head movement, neck direction, gait, swagger and, of course, sincerity.

In class, he will be assigned a science project with a group of students that will include a girl.

(Soundbite of music)

MACSAI: At a sleepover, the girl and her friends will consult a Ouija board, tarot cards, an apple stem, dandelion fluff, horoscopes, Cosmo quizzes, older sisters and possibly even the almighty herself as to the site of their first kiss, the design of her wedding dress, the names of their kids and the kind of glasses he would look best in.

(Soundbite of music)

MACSAI: On the phone, he will call a girl to get a missed homework assignment. In the cafeteria, he will suddenly have seats reserved for him and stormy back-room tears when he doesn't even see that there's an empty chair achingly waiting for him that bears an invisible sign with his name on it.

(Soundbite of music)

MACSAI: I really have no idea how to prepare them for the mind-reading that will be expected of them, the Freud-like analysis of the relationship, the feigned enthusiasm over new purchases, the level of cleanliness the likes of which they've never even dreamed of. You may as well come away with a doctoral degree of some kind for all the preparation this can take.

(Soundbite of music)

MACSAI: But maybe this isn't something you can really prepare for, this careful merging of the gangly and gawky on the overcrowded, rush-hour, prepubescent highway. You just have to have a few fender benders of your own. And, in the meantime, I'll just be relegated to the passenger seat, like a road test administrator at the DMV, able to see head-on collisions long before they happen and completely unable to do anything about it.

So go forth, my little happy, sad, mad, hungries. Venture, travel, trek, globe trot. I may not be able to guarantee that you'll be prepared for every part of the nail-biting, confidence-grinding, psyche-smashing journey. But, you know, if you always knew where you were going, what fun would the trip be?

BLOCK: Gwen Macsai hones her child-rearing skills in Evanston, Illinois.

MICHELE NORRIS (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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