Over the years, people have had interesting reactions upon discovering we have five sons. When we lived in New York, for example, folks would gasp in astonishment and say, "God bless!" except for one man, who looked at our Utah license plate and (true story) asked, "So what are you guys? A singing group?"
The most common reaction I've had, however, is this: "Five boys? Well! Five boys would be a LOT easier than five girls, because girls are so emotional."
OK. I do know something about emotional girls because I was one. I remember the time my dad took me golfing on a muggy Illinois day when I was 14. I was wearing hot pants (striped) and a new pair of sandals, and I kept flipping my bangs out of my eyes like I was Farrah Fawcett. After the first hole I started to complain because my clubs were so HEAVY and ew (!) there were bugs EVERYWHERE and also it was so HUMID and everybody was ew (!) SWEATING, which was completely GROSS, and also my sandals were giving me BLISTERS, and why did we have to play stupid boring golf anyway when we could have gone to a movie instead where there was air conditioning and tubs of buttered popcorn and possibly BOYS who were not my ew (!) brothers?
My dad didn't say anything to stem the tsunami of whining that flowed freely from my mouth. He just kept swinging his golf club with that air of quiet desperation stoic men display on death marches. But I did catch him looking at me once or twice like he wished 14-year-old daughters had never been invented.
So yeah. I get it. Girls can be emotional.
Still. I'm surprised when people assume that boys aren't that somehow they're these easygoing creatures who take acne, girl trouble, difficult coaches, troublesome math classes, hormones, body image issues and parental expectations all in stride.
And maybe there are boys like that somewhere boys who are just all "hakuna matata." But those boys didn't live at our house.
One of our sons, in particular, had a REALLY emotional adolescence. In sheer frustration, he once punched a hole in the upstairs wall. Yowza! And there the hole stayed until that son went away to college, mostly because we never got around to fixing it. We didn't intend for the hole to be a gaping reminder of a bad family moment. But still. There it was.
Fast forward to the week before our son came home. I found my husband in the hallway late one night, patching up that hole at long last. Watching him, I realized that more than an act of delayed maintenance, filling in that hole with joint compound was an act of love. It was a father's way of saying the past is behind us. Let bygones be bygones. Welcome home.
Talk about emotion.
I am grateful to my husband for that and all the other gestures he makes to be a good parent. Happy Father's Day to him and all you dads out there who try to do right by your sons and daughters.
Ann Cannon can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/columnistcannon.