I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this before, but I live in a house with all males. Well, scratch that. We got a female hamster in August and she is a lovely little thing but she doesn’t exactly stay up late with me chatting about our problems. So, for all intents and purposes, I live in a house with all males.
It has come to my attention over the last 14 years of living with one or more of these creatures that men and women are sometimes different. There is nothing about this that should shock me. Of course we’re different! I should, at this point, also make clear that I am sometimes slow. Subtleties are often lost on me. So I was very proud of the fact that I was (with help) able to understand a new boy thing recently.
My family has a storied history of taking me out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner when big things were to be discussed. Worried about my lean toward new punk rock friends in high school? Dinner date with mom at Country Kitchen! Dad concerned about my boyfriend in college? A sudden invitation to lunch at Wendy’s! I believe that it was a way to open me up in a new setting. My mom & dad have mentioned a few times that having me in public was a way to keep a lid on my fiery temper and propensity toward yelling. Tomato, tomahto. Either way, I have come to conflate problems and talking about your feelings with eating one-on-one in a restaurant.
As our older guy gets bigger and has more of the typical pre-teen feelings and issues, I have been encouraging my husband to take him out to dinner. “Why don’t you guys go out for pizza together and talk?” I ask. “Maybe,” was his usual response. But nothing ever happened. It was becoming a source of frustration for me.
First of all, I couldn’t fathom not wanting to go out to eat. If someone even hinted to me that I should take someone out to eat, the sound of the door slamming and my purse flying would be the only response as I headed out! That is one subtlety I would pick up on. Second, I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to talk to our son. I’d grunt something about men being non-communicative cavemen as I shuffled off. To blog. About my feelings.
But one day my husband, perhaps finally hearing my grunts of frustration, stopped to mansplain it to me. “I’d rather take Emmett out biking or go play ball with him. That’s when we really talk. That’s when we open up.” Oh! A visual montage of all the times they ran out the door to play or bike or hike together started running through my mind. Ok, then. I get it now, I thought.
So I decided to try it myself. Last spring, Emmett and I began to walk to school together whenever the weather was bearable. I’ll be damned if that man of mine is not a genius! Most of what Emmett talked about was football. Ok, fine. No real breakthroughs there. But, he also sprinkled in real feelings, thoughts and concerns. On his own! Without me even mentioning it! Brilliant.
Recently, I saw a video on Slate that defines this behavior and gives a fantastic (and pretty hilarious) history of it in American romantic comedies. They have dubbed it: Recsposition: The scene of exposition in a romantic comedy in which the male lead discusses the status of his relationship, while playing sports. http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/09/23/recsposition_supercut_the_romantic_comedy_trope_where_men_express_their.html
For me, it was one of those rare moments when we see something and it puts a stamp on something we believed to be true but didn’t realize it was universal or have a way to describe it. So, now I have a word for it. My husband and I can have shorthand in the future. “Honey, I’m out for a little recsposition with the boy,” he could say. I will nod and understand. I will not grunt or mutter about cavemen.
Boys are different. Thank goodness I slowly catch on.