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Twenty-plus years of girl birthday parties are nothing compared to one evening of a party for a teen-aged boy.

Over the past quarter of a century of raising girls, we've had costume parties, cowboy/cowgirl parties (complete with ponies), swimming parties, beauty parties, movie parties. We've made simple and extravagant cakes and spent hours decorating.

We take pictures throughout the event and even now reminisce about the fun times.

One party was an "around the world" party where we had stations representing various countries. There were decorations from that country, foods from that country and the visitors (party-goers) had their "passports" stamped at each destination.

One daughter has a summer birthday. The cake was made to look like a swimming pool replete with a gum stick diving board and little teddy grahams (bear-shaped cookies) as the swimmers. Due to the nature of the pool party for the then 3-year-olds, the party was outside. It was so very hot that the gum went limp, the icing ran, but the children had fun anyway.

We've made finger sandwiches and pretty party favors.

We've made flower arrangements.

We've had tea parties with dressy outfits and real china dishes.

But no more.

A teen-aged boy says no agenda. No planned games. No decorations.

Just food! and more food!

Seriously, the dozen boys wondered why I balked at the suggestion to wrestle in the living room.

I suggested they take the wrestling match outside. They countered with a suggestion of wrestling in the den if they moved the furniture against the walls. I was afraid someone would be thrown through the plate glass doors so again suggested they take their pastime outside.

So, outside they went.

Considering these boys range from 140 to 270 pounds each (football players), there was probably close to 1,000 pounds of weight on the trampoline while sweaty boys wrestled and tustled and cheered.

They took a break to stuff pizza (sans crust) down, drink from two-liter bottles (forego the cups and ice) and then wrestle again, and again.

The fruit-topped cookie dessert pizza disappeared except for the fruit scraped off a couple of slices.

Girl sleep-overs may involve very late nights with movies and giggles, but eventually the noise quiets down except for a whispered giggle or two.

Boy sleep-overs may end in a crash or tumble because again, competition arises and they have to throw, be thrown, wrestle or lift weights.

I'm still amazed that in the 1970s there were well-meaning intelligentsia telling us males and females are born identical, we just culturalize them differently.

I remember being so full of my college classes that I'd try to argue environment versus genetics with my dad. He'd say: "It's in the genes."

He was right. Yes, culture, environment do help shape, but there is much that is inherited.

Accepting innate differences doesn't make one right or wrong, it just accepts that difference and allows us to operate from our own unique strengths.

Opinion, Pages 4 on 08/19/2009

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