Battle lines

My house has become a battle of the sexes. It’s girls versus boys. Good ole estrogen versus testosterone, or the right from the almost right, but definitely still wrong (I’ll let you decide which is which). It happened naturally, just as it has since the beginning of time. 

Blessed with two children, a sassy girl first and a quick-witted boy second, the Carpenter and I were happy to stop there. We got one of each. What more could we ask for? It’s like we needed two even teams.

The other night, the Carpenter and I were trying to have a conversation. I say “trying” because raising a 10 year-old girl means you almost never get a word in edge-wise. The children had been excused, so this was our chance to have a conversation about important grown-up issues, also known as complaining about work. Yep. That’s the romance of marriage: mutual whining.

We were interrupted. This time, it was a disgruntled 8-year-old boy who pulled up a chair and thumped his forehead on the table. Drama. It seems our son had been kicked out of the backyard fort for failure to comply with the steadfast rules of cooperation as devised by his older and suddenly more aggressive sister. She was being unreasonable. He was innocent. Sure.

“She’s always mad at me,” he said, disillusioned. “I don’t even know what I did wrong. I didn’t want to shovel the snow in the fort, so she starting yelling.”

The Carpenter put his arm around his son and whispered loud enough so I could hear, “Get used to it, my boy. Women are always mad about something. You’re always going to be wrong. Just accept it.”

Hmph. The dialogue became a lesson in male-female relationships, as taught by the Carpenter. He took great pleasure explaining the facts of life; all females are unpredictable, temperamental and, get this, usually wrong.  Oh, he was enjoying this. The best advice? “Son, never buy flowers as an apology for anything, because that would basically mean admitting guilt, and men don’t do that.” Grunt.

Those two jokers started making up mock scenarios, practicing things they would say if they had to defend themselves against irrational females in situations such as the aforementioned fort fiasco. Like father, like son. Talk about the blind leading the blind. My son stood up from the table and, pretending the chair was a girl waiting for an apology for an injustice he would surely deny, he announced with absolute confidence,  “Well, I guess I’ll be keeping my candy then …” and stormed out of the room. The chair had no comment.

The Carpenter nearly fell out of his, laughing. The torch of insolence had been passed to the prodigal son.

You knew I wouldn’t let the boys have the last word, right? Let’s examine facts. If you were to look at this incident from our daughter’s view, the evidence is clear: she asked him to help clean the fort – sort of like asking a man to pick up his construction work clothes and place them in a laundry hamper. He refused. Typical.

She lost it. She kicked him out; her way or the highway. It seemed perfectly logical to me. Is it her fault that he couldn’t take direction? No.

Game on, boys. Game on.









Kelly Waterhouse