Boys Are People Too

English: , American author
Rosalind Wiseman, courtesy of Wikipedia

I have blogged about my son driving me insane with his Xbox habit.

At Trinity School last night I got some insights into my son and his boy culture. Rosalind Wiseman spoke about the social pressures and dynamics of being a young man in today’s hyper connected world, based on research from her new book, Masterminds & Wingmen.

Here were some of my take aways:

We say to girls, “‘You can do it. You can do anything.’ And girls have a vibrant support system.” Wiseman is not knocking this important empowerment base for girls — after all, she’s also the author of Queen Bees & Wannabes so she knows girls. But Wiseman says, ‘If you are a 13-year old boy, you don’t see that you have power.” Because, at 13, a boy is still a boy and a girl is a young woman.

Wiseman likened the emotional life of 11th grade boys to 8th grade girls. This cracked me up. This is who I’ve got at home!

For her book, Wiseman interviewed 200 boys and 40 girls. She came away with some surprises.

One gem? “Straight theater boys get more hookups than football players.” (All right! Let’s hear it for the theater boys.)

More gems:

Happiness is …

  •  Meaning beyond one’s self
  • Hope of success
  • Social connection
  • Satisfying work

I love archetypes. And Wiseman, with the boys she interviewed, came up with some types:
The Mastermind
The Associate
The Bouncer
The Fly
The Entertainer
The Punching Bag
A Conscience

But these boys don’t mind being stereotyped. Remember that rule for happiness? They are happy to have social connections.

I loved Wiseman’s advice to a boy when he criticizes another boy’s sensitivity, “You cannot deny someone’s emotional truth.” So true!

She also says, “There is a difference between snitching and reporting.”

And this! “It is a social skill to get help.” One mom I chatted with after Wiseman’s presentation said she she was going to put this quote on sticky notes all over the house.

When a boy comes to a parent with bad news, here’s what to say, “1. I’m sorry this happened. 2. It’s hard to come forward. I respect that you did. 3, Now let’s think about what we can do about this.”

And when there’s conflict, expect push back.

When you get a “Bad news bomb,” Wiseman says a parent can realize:

  • This is one moment, not a lifetime.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Ask for what you need.
  • If it gets heated, you might say, “Let’s talk in 10 minutes. I can’t hear you over the sound of my heart beating so loud in my ears.”

I am going to try and talk about the tough stuff with my son. Wiseman advises, ‘Talk to your son about falling in love and breaking up. Don’t expect the generic advice to ‘respect a girl’ to be useful, especially at a party. What does respect mean?’

Boys, like girls, feel used and confused over relationships. Some boys asked Wiseman how to deal with aggressive drunk girls.

Wiseman began her lecture with a scenario of how one boy felt shamed by other boys’ comments around his body. Yes, body image is important to boys.

This lecture helped me realize my son’s “emotional life is deep and rich.”

Even though my boy always seems to have some tech thing in his hand, he still needs his hand held!

And I’m going to hold his hand — and yes, embarrass the hell out of him while doing so.

Rosalind Wiseman talks about boy culture.

Citifield Lost & Found

I took three 12-year old boys to Citifield on Sunday to watch the boys/men of September. The wonderful thing about baseball is that I will never be asked to perform.

The Mets willl never be missing a player and call over the PA system, “Will Mary Beth Coudal please come onto the field and help us out? We’re missing a player.”

It won’t happen. As if it could possibly – not likely – but possibly happen at a Broadway show, a national political rally, or a mega-church Sunday morning service. The times I’ve been in attendance at those events, I do sit and relax and enjoy the show. But there’s always a part of me that wonders, “Oh, maybe I should get up there and help them out. Maybe this team needs me. Maybe I’ll be asked to help out.”

That never happens at a sporting event. Unless we’re talking badmitton. But then no one ever talks badmitton. (And I have heard athletes can be in their 40s and be Olympic champions in archery. But then again, no one ever talks archery. Sadly.) But I digress. I was talking baseball.

Here’s the thing about going to Citifield. The boys just wander around the fabulous new Mets stadium. They hardly watch the game. They look at tee shirts in the shop. They go to the batting cage or dunk tank. They visit Shake Shack. Alone, I read the NYTimes Sunday Style Section, catch a few rays, people watch.

On our way out of the stadium on Sunday, Joey swung his navy sweatshirt over his shoulders. It was still hot and sunny. The Mets had won. Not that it matters. We almost made it to the subway stairwell when Joey realized he was missing his wallet. It must’ve fallen out when he swung his Yankees sweatshirt. I don’t know why Hayden’s buddy, Joey loves to wear Yankees attire to Mets games. But twelve-year olds are like that.

So we went back to the stairwell.

“Yes,” said the older gent in the green polo Staff shirt. “Someone found a wallet. It’s probably on its way to the lost and found now. Go to the Jackie Robinson Pavilion, sit there, and wait.” ‘

Under the huge black and white photo murals of Jackie Robinson you can ponder the courage of the man who broke the race barrier. Joey informs me that every team has retired Robinson’s number to honor him. (You can learn a lot at a game.)

When we ask the pimply kid at the Lost & Found desk about the wallet, he informs us that none have been turned in. But the gent had told us to wait. So we sat in the air conditioned tiny room on cushy black chairs and waited.

Joey wondered if maybe the money and the Metrocard would be taken. “The person will probably just leave me my library card.”

“How much money was in it?”

“Fifteen dollars.”

And guess what? A few minutes later the wallet was turned in, complete with Metrocard, fifteen dollars, and even the New York City public library card.

You gotta love it. Maybe the Mets aren’t in contention for the World Series. Maybe I won’t ever play professional sports. But basic human kindness wins big time. Taking a few 12-year olds to a baseball game on a waning day of summer is bound to teach you that.