Saturday, September 11, 2010

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Tweens Are From....I Don't Know Where

My boys are for the first time in two different schools. A nice side effect of that situation is that I get some alone time with each of them everyday, between dropping off and picking up the other boy. This time has naturally (by that I mean, I didn't force it to) become a time where the boys are actually talking to me. They are sharing things with me that they don't seem to share when their brother is around. Some of it is silly, funny stuff and some are real issues bothering them. I won't go into any details here. As the parent of tweens, I must respect the boundaries of parent/tween confidentiality. I have been told not to say anything.

But I wasn't told not to blog anything. It's tempting to spill it all out here because the material is so good. But being a mom who respects my kids' privacy and boundaries, I can't blog specifics. But maybe it would be okay to give just a conversation lead-in.

One such conversation began with "The problem with girls is..."

My mental response was"My goodness, it's 8 a.m. and you're not supposed to be thinking about girls for at least 4 more years!" Of course, I didn't say this out loud. I gave a supportive response but had to end my answer with the real truth of "and get used to not understanding women."

I learned that from my husband. Don't get me wrong; my husband understands me better than anyone does. But it has taken years to get to our level of understanding. We communicate very differently and have found over the years that we can be arguing about something only to realize that we are arguing the same points. We are on the same side but our communication styles and the way we approach things can be so different. Once we recognized our communication differences, things have run much smoother. We for years have started many potentially conflict-laden conversations with, "I know you're from Mars, but..." or "Maybe this is just a Venus kind of thing, but..."  A verbal nod of acknowledgment and respect of our differences.

And that's what I was trying to impart to my tween. Girls go about things differently than boys, no matter the age. My tween was perplexed by the difference in communication styles of the girls and boys in his grade. I use communication style here as a very loose term as I am not sure there is any real communication going on during the tween stage. Clearer messages are sent between chimpanzees through screeches and wild hand gestures than what comes from tweens. And my tween has recognized that. From our conversation, I don't think he's one of the ones flailing his paws about and shrieking at the Ladies Who Recess but he is wondering what approach works.

I tried to steer him away from the chimpanzee method and recommended the more subtle approach of just being himself. Now, that may seem like conflicting and confusing advice given that the nature of tween boys at times is wild, impulsive, seemingly uncontrollable behavior, not unlike said chimps. But what I meant was to not worry about the girls and what they are thinking. Dr. Seuss said it better, I believe:

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

This was just one of many such conversations to come. I better start preparing for more of these. But I will leave all future conversations related to "There's A Wocket in My Pocket" for my husband to manage.

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