Ever since my oldest daughter left for college two weeks ago, I have been living in the TestosterZone. It started early the moment we returned from dropping her off. Apparently, the ante has been raised due to her departure, and what I used to affectionately refer to as ‘Boyland’ has now elevated to the full on experience. I’m afraid I’ll grow a beard if I spend too much time at home and am basically hiding in my closet to write this, desperately pressing a potpourri sachet to my face like an oxygen mask.
“It’s just a stage!” I used to pleadingly tell my grown, great smelling daughter, as if to convince us both. “They won’t be giving nuggies, pantsing and ‘hand, cup, killing’ (don’t ask) each other when they’re 30. Someday,” I mused, “we’ll be able to freely use words like ‘ball’ or ‘package’ or ‘junk’ or even ‘gas’ in regular, everyday sentences, and not have to wrack our brains to conco—I mean—make up things like, ‘go outside and pick up your spherical sports equipment’ or ‘look at the size of that packa— delivery container!’ Half the time I sound like I’m speaking in Old English, when all I want is to speak without setting off explosi— LOTS of ‘Beevis & Butthead-esque’ laughing!
I used to tell my daughter that this was just a phase, like stepping on legos (OUCH!), not flushing and returning the potato chip bag to the cabinet wide open for all the mice to enjoy.
But, I think I might have been wrong. Really wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. I do love the TestosterZone, and thank goodness since we have 5 boys between the ages of 12 and 17 years still at home. The TestosterZone is funny, and boisterous, never boring, sometimes smelly, raunchy, full of laughs, quick to forgive and even faster to forget, and full of the kind of love that makes my heart hurt with joy- or sometimes from the sting of a poorly thrown lacrosse ball, a surprised frog or a crab apple (my least favorite, mostly because we don’t actually have a crab apple tree in our yard).
Since her sister left for college, our baby girl has defected to the TestosterZone, as evidenced by the standing ovation she earned from her brothers at dinner last night for her ‘double belch.’ It probably does not help that I call her Larry.
Yet, while I tire of is exclusivity, bodily function humor is kind of funny. Jokes about our universality, our corporeal humanness, bring us together, right? But once the joke hits a little too close to home (or mom, as it were), it tears us apart. Far apart. And I just want to run away, long enough to ‘clear the air,’ as it were.
That’s life with my bunch of boys. I come in for a hug, breathing tentatively through my mouth with a test breath through one nostril in hopes that they are about to share something, anything verbally, as in actual words properly spoken through their mouths, then am forced make a run for it.
They hug me and I think they are about to finally spill about the first day of school in some teeny level of detail that will actually answer 5% of the questions I really have, and (an audible) ‘pooooof!’ and they’re gone, but it’s as if they are still there, because they leave behind their unmistakable mix of l’eau de ‘words we don’t use on a TU blog,’ way too much Axe and l’essence d’soccer cleat.
Yes, I realize this is sexist and stereotypical and representative of an old paradigm of gender that is apparently alive and well in my house. Trust me, no one wishes more than I, that the dynamics of gender expression in my kitchen meant I heard a little more about their feelings, friends and social life and a little less through a drinking straw blown expertly into their armpit.
Truth is, I wouldn’t trade the TestosterZone for anything.
There are moments- my sons hugging their little sister, showering her face in kisses and asking if she wants to go ‘have a catch.’ The ways they cover for each other, trying to keep one and all out of trouble. How they say three words that make no sense to me, but all of them fall over laughing and shoving each other around with a familiarity and closeness that could break my heart in two. And there are other times, like tonight when they were wrestling in the kitchen while we all made dinner together. Even though the volume was reminiscent of my first “Who” concert, my left ankle got caught in a simulated duel between some species and The Borg, and the dog ended up mysteriously covered in cherry tomato goo, it was vibrant, raucous and endearing and our boys were rolling around in the ease of ‘just hanging out with their brothers.’ I hope they always have that with each other.
And, I sure do miss my oldest daughter.
Do you live in the TestosterZone?
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Remember: Lower the bar, and drop the guilt (today).