My two dearest friends are very strong women. One is small in stature but has a huge and menacing presence. The other is of normal size, but has a mean right hook and a standup routine that would make Seinfeld laugh. I am nothing like these women and sometimes wonder if they speculate which planet I come from. We are like night and day. You see, they raised five sons between them, and I mothered two girls.

Mothers who raise sons have to have testosterone shields. They face horrors in their homes that I can only TRY to imagine. My small friend has had to deal with male frustration that resulted in holes punched through walls. The comedian noted once that “boys are unable to be in the same room without making repeated physical contact.”

Mothers of girls can go about their parenting without worrying whether the house will be burned down while they are at the grocery. Girls can eat lunch without getting it on the walls. Girls usually don’t swear like troopers, at least at the dinner table. My daughters grew up with manners and inside voices.

As I understand it, boys are simple beings. They usually don’t suffer mood swings or harbor grudges. When mad, they punch the object of their fury and then go on to eat three sandwiches washed down with a gallon of milk. Girls, on the other hand, have angst up to their eyeballs. They have poetry in their souls and send endless notes to one another in class about it. Girls are either dreamy or depressed, with nothing in between.

Keeping boys clean is a full time job, I hear. In our house, the showers were rarely unoccupied. While we did’t have to spend wads of money on sporting equipment, I can attest to the fact that depilatories and feminine products aren’t cheap. Our budget had columns for things like “Food,” “Insurance,” “Mortgage,” and then one special category for “Mascara.”

Boys are eating machines. They burn millions of calories even while sleeping. Girls, on the other hand, are obsessed with their appearance. While my girlfriends were making pans of lasagna, freezing dozens of cupcakes for future reference, and stoking the fires with pizza and pancakes, at our house, I was trying to figure out how to make low fat entrees using yogurt. We ate a lot of salad, and everything was sugar free.

Socially, boys are, to put it bluntly, retarded. But girls take relationships with others to a level of sophistication that requires the patience of saints and the counseling skills of Freud. My friends told me that the biggest emotional scenes with their boys involved whose turn it was to take out the trash. In our house, there were nightly dramas involving love, envy, power, isolation, and pimples.

Despite it all, I have taken pride in the orderly, serene and feminine household I maintained during my girls’ childhoods. They acquired culture, great manners, the ability to shop for bargains, and a real appreciation for music and books. My girls grew up in a home that was peaceful, tidy, and quiet. Both of my girlfriends think this is hilarious, because more than likely,


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