There it was in black and white. “Parents,” said the sheet that came home from school, “have your child name each member of your family. Put an ‘x’ in the appropriate spot.”
Down below, two rows of boxes marched across the page. “Girls and women,” said the first one. “Boys and men,” read the second.
“Okay,” I said to Little, pen poised. “Give me the names of everyone in our family.” Obediently, he began.
“Mama,” he said solemnly, pointing a finger at me. With equal solemnity, I drew a smiley face in the girls/women row.
“Who else?” I said. One by one, he named them off, and I drew their faces in the other row. Boy, boy, boy, man, boy. Five boys/men. One girl/woman. Five. One.
There was no doubt about it. Here, it was one against the odds, leaving the lone female outnumbered, outgunned and unarmed. As if to put an exclamation mark on the end of the assignment, I glanced down at the living room floor. Scattered there in no apparent pattern was a silver cap gun, Cowboy Woody, one football, a Nerf gun with a laser pointer and eight Nerf darts, the whistling kind.
I sighed. One little mother. All those boys. How would I ever prepare them for life with other emotional creatures down the road? It was hard enough for their father who’d conducted 25 years of research up close and personal in an effort to understand his outnumbered wife. How was a mother supposed to teach a horde of rowdy, noisy, ravenous creatures what made a woman tick and what was the language of love?
There was so much to teach. Boys weren’t born knowing, for instance, that colors mattered. That some went together and some didn’t, and that one should consider skin tone and eye color when picking one’s palette.
They didn’t know that girls will make purchases based strictly on color. Like purses, for instance, and sandals. They’d learn it (ask The Mister), but they wouldn’t understand it.