There are many (many) life lessons that parents should share with their children, like never in a bazillion years text while driving, be kind, floss every day and always send a post-interview thank-you note. But there are some nuggets of knowledge that are exclusively for boys — things to say to your son. There are certain boyisms I want my two sons to avoid, specific XY traps that I really want them to steer clear of. Here, my sweet boys, pay attention:
1. It's totally fine if you stink at sports.
Contrary to popular belief, sports are not a boy requirement. You don't have to be baptised into the cult of Sunday Night Football. You don't have to pick a favorite team. Some guys love sports and some don't. If you love it, make being an awesome teammate your goal — not winning the game. (And please wear sunscreen when you are on the field.) And if you don't love sports, I don't care. But please don’t let my blasé attitude toward uniform-wearing activities make you think I'm a-okay with you sitting on the sidelines of life: I'm not. Staying active and healthy and socialising with buddies is important — very important. But you can find your own path to that.
2. No one wants a picture of your penis.
Seriously. It's never (ever, ever) a good idea to take a picture of your business and text, Tweet or e-mail it to any person, ever. Heck, don't even snap a picture and *not* send it to anyone. That picture will be there, on your phone or camera, just waiting to be discovered. You'll lose your phone or you'll forget your camera and a stranger will find it, giggle and the next thing you know, your penis will have its own Facebook page. Maybe you won't lose your camera. Maybe you'll simply forget the picture is there and accidentally download it to the computer. I'll fire up the slideshow feature on the Mac and there your penis will be — on screen, in the middle of the family vacation picturefest. Spare yourself. Spare me. Spare the world.
3. Don't stop dancing.
Guys, a lot of them anyway, seem to drop their dance-around-like-it's-nobody's-business tendencies as they age. As little boys, you sure know how to rock out. The bums are shaking, the first are pumping, new moves are invented and perfected daily. Pure joy + the absence of self-consciousness + an iPod = beautiful thing. Please, try your very best to hold onto some shred of that. I know it can be hard. (It's hard for some girls, too.) It doesn't feel "manly" to race to the dance floor when "Call Me Maybe" comes on. I get it. But, I have to tell you, nothing is manlier than a guy who is secure enough to take it to the dance floor and leave his are-they-watching-me worries behind.
4. Learn to cook and clean and wash those stinky clothes.
Honey, you will thank me for this one. Not only will you feel empowered being able to, you know, feed yourself with some level of yumminess, keep your future home vermin-free and remove the stank off your own clothes, you will impress the heck out any future loves. I fully realise that if I gave this advice to my fictitious daughter it would be considered thoroughly sexist. It's true. No one has ever been overly impressed with my ability to use a stain stick or scrub a toilet. For men, however, understanding these basic life skills plunks you into the dreamboat category. Fair? No. Reality. Yes, sir. What are you waiting for? I can usher you to the mop right now.