Friday, March 14, 2008

Boy World

Bub is not the boy I feared I would have when I walked away from my 19-week ultrasound five years ago, clutching a few blurry photographs and some earth-tilting news. He is not a climber, an escape artist, a puller of pigtails. But he lives in Boy World for all that, a landscape which, like Neverland, is furnished by a child's imagination (or, at least, it was before it was bought out by Disney).

At the center of Boy World is the Sports Complex. Even at the entry gate one can hear sneakers squeaking on gym floors and catch the occasional errant hockey puck. Bub gives this area a wide berth. "That's not a hockey shirt!" he corrects well-meaning grown-ups when he wears his favourite sweater - "that's a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt!"

Just past the Sports Complex, occupying the entire northwest corner of Boy World, is the Raceway. Most of Bub's friends live here full-time, immersing themselves in the intricacies of makes and models, learning to distinguish Lightning McQueen from his lesser-known rivals. When they venture out of this corner, it's only to visit the construction site next door with its bulldozers and backhoes. There is little here to interest Bub; after putting a dump truck through its paces, he usually wanders off.

The Island of Sodor can hold his interest a bit longer; Percy, James, and Thomas have a universal appeal to which Bub is not immune. He spent most of last summer here, building tracks and guiding trains across them, unperturbed by the occasional reptilian bellow emerging from Dinosaur Land in the southeast corner, just beyond the Chamber of Horrors.

Bub runs past these attractions with barely a second glance; he's on his way to Animal World and Numbers Junction, with its adjoining Colours and Shapes Library. Here he'll spend the entire afternoon while other boys run rampant, kicking balls and roaring like monsters.

He'll bring his sister along with him - girls are allowed in Boy World these days. The walls that surround and protect it are not designed to keep girls out - in fact, the entire park is crawling with parents, sisters, girls-next-door. Those high, benevolent walls are permeable, but they are also what make Boy World what it is: an essentially juvenile place, where adult emotions and social subtleties are not allowed.

There is no meanness in Boy World - at least not in the five-and-under section. Outside its walls lies the Popularity Pavilion, right beside the Acting Like a Grown-Up Street Theatre and the Adult Worries Picnic Table. Girls in princess dresses circulate freely out here, watching us with eyes that miss nothing. But the boys, they are safe, for now at least, in a world that they don't even realize is bounded by both time and space. From the inside, its innocent, logical acres look like the whole world.

27 comments:

Amy said...

Gosh the last two sentences just kill me. So true! And I think of my two boys and it breaks my heart that they'll outgrow Boy World.

This was just great!

nomotherearth said...

I went right along with you on this trip. I spend a lot of time in Boy World, myself. Great post!

Beck said...

Beautiful.
The Boy is in kindergarten and Boy World starts getting a bit meaner -but for right now, it still seems like such an easier place.

Alpha DogMa said...

My sons aren't interested in Sports World ("too many rules that ruin the fun" is the direct quote from my eldest), for which I am so grateful.

I am always amazed at how I -- a female -- can feel so disconnected from the little girls in my acquaintance. Mostly I am shocked by their capacity for meanness even at a young age, because -- as you pointed out -- that is not a factor of Boy World which is so straight forward that I am green with envy.

Niksmom said...

Superbly described! I am enjoying watching as my son begins to explore more than his teensy corner of Music and Lights Lane.

Sober Briquette said...

At our house, Animal World is dominated by FarmLand. Tractors + Animals = Pure Heaven.

Mimi said...

Oh. Nice.

Angela said...

Sounds like such a wonderful place to be.

Kyla said...

Boy World is so much kinder than Girl World

Aliki2006 said...

My boy isn't the boy I worried about having, either--all trucks and roaring noises. But boy world has been wonderful--and still is, even at age seven.

the dragonfly said...

When I found out I was having a boy, after the initial thrill of just knowing what kind of baby was growing inside me, I was a bit worried. What do I know about raising a boy? But he is such a joy...we'll just learn things together.

And now I'm looking forward to Boy World. :)

minnesotamom said...

Growing up, I had very few girl friends. Boy World was so much more appealing because of the things you described. Estrogen = talk about you behind your back. Testosterone = punch you in the face. I like the latter much better. At least you see it coming.

Janet said...

So far, Boy World has been very kind to us. I fear Girl World so much more.

Marian said...

Really well written. The last sentence was superb.

Boy world is vicious to those who lack physical/athletic prowess, or who are different. Starting around 4th grade or so. Sigh.

Moondance said...

Lovely.

susiej said...

Beautiful imagery... boy world... just outside, it can get a little tougher, but for now, it's perfect. Just lovely writing.

Susanne said...

Thank you for this. I will think about it for a while.

Tina C. said...

so sweet. you've really captured it. such a lovely little world for them.

Christine said...

my boy is there, spinning in and out of every room at break neck speed.

Running on empty

Haley-O said...

another wonderful post.... Makes me think, as I sit here with my little 6-month-old boy sleeping here....

MamaDrama said...

Boy World--You nailed it. I am much more afraid of Girl World, having lived in it myself. Boy World confuses me sometimes, mostly the kicking and roaring part, because it's just so different than I remember from Girl World. We got a little early dose of mean this year, at barely-5, thanks to a friend with two older sisters, but I guess it's just prep for kindergarten...

JCK said...

Boys at this age are just pure magic. I love their tenderness, how easily their feelings get hurt and the affection they show with each other. It is beautiful. When I'm tuned in to Boy World, it always makes me imagine my husband at this age.

Anonymous said...

You may be surprised about your boy and how he grows through the ages. My surprise was that the sweet innocent little boy is always there, even now in my almost 22 and 24 year olds.

In grade school, middle school, high school and yes even college I kept waiting for that thug boy I first imagined looking at those in utero sonograms and that thug never showed up. Yours won't either.

Bon said...

it's funny...i spent my life fearing boy world, loathing it for its Otherness, i guess...though i was never very girly, either. i never liked Gendered worlds much at all, or so i thought.

but after spending more and more time lately on the fringes of boy world, i find myself less afraid. and Logic world and Puzzle world and Order world, which are big in our house in their own incarnations right now...to my surprise, i like 'em.

i do. who knew?

Minnesota Matron said...

Boy World is a good place. But there's another street, just outside the five and under gates called Screens, where small hand-held games and computers beckon like drug dealers. If he's solid on shapes, colors, and numbers and imagination, he'll make it through.

the end of motherhood said...

We did some serious time in Boy World around our house. I miss it.

bgirl said...

boy world...such a grand place to be.

i feel blessed to have an inside track to it.