Wendy Kennar | The A to Z List of Boys

Wendy KennarAs a public school teacher for twelve years, I began to notice differences in my classroom dynamics when I had more boys than girls. As a mother of a six-year-old son, I am noticing certain behaviors and attributes distinct from what I remember of my childhood growing up with a younger sister. After spending four years working in a public library and five years teaching kindergarten, I tend to want to organize the world alphabetically. Here, I offer the A to Z List of Boys. Of course, these are broad generalizations. Each boy is a unique individual, and these characteristics are not specifically limited only to boys.

A             Amused by bodily noises.  Whether at home or in the classroom, I have never yet met a boy who wasn’t entertained by bodily noises.

B             Boastful.  Boys tend to want to take credit for things they have done right. They are not especially humble about their accomplishments. They want credit where they believe credit is due.

C             Changing voices. Our boys may retain some of their “little boy” features as they age, but it’s their voices, deeper and more resonant, that signify they are growing up. A young boy I remember as a former kindergarten student will come back to visit me as a middle school student. I see how he’s grown, but it’s his voice that startles me.

D             Distinguish between “boy items” and “girl items.” Stores are very good at branding merchandise for either boys or girls. Likewise boys tend to regard certain things (the color pink, playing with dolls) as reserved for girls.

E              Expected to be athletic. Generally, boys are expected to participate in and/or enjoy watching sports.

F              Fragrant.  As their bodies develop, body odor becomes an issue earlier than it does for girls.

G             Growing. Constantly. Boys never seems to reach a lull in their growth, but are forever requiring new pants, new shoes, or yet another haircut.

H             Hungry. Boys have a never-ending appetite. They can snack throughout the afternoon and then be ready for dinner. Their bodies and minds need constant replenishing.

I               Imaginative. Boys will create games and excuses. They will construct Lego buildings and stories.

J              Jokesters. Boys enjoy playing the role of jokester — whether it’s the “knock-knock” variety or a prank.

K             Kinesthetic. Boys are physical. They jump and run and climb and wrestle. They effortlessly use their bodies in ways that make their caregivers gasp.

L              Limited in their clothing options. Because there are no skirts or dresses in their closets, and fewer colors, boys don’t have as many options when it comes to deciding what to wear.

M            Men-in-training. Boys need men in their lives to demonstrate the kind of behavior we want our boys to display as adults. Role models are imperative so that our boys grow up to be men we are proud of.

N             Natural. Boys can just be who they are. They don’t have the same worries or preoccupations about appearance that girls do. Boys don’t feel pressured to make themselves look different by wearing make-up or high heels.

O             Obstinate. Boys will stick with something until they are ready to give it up. Often being obstinate can have a big pay-off, as when a young boy becomes proficient at a task that was once difficult for him.

P             Puzzled. As boys age, expressing their emotions and showing affection becomes a bit more confusing for them. Crying, kissing, and hugging are actions that many boys struggle with– reaching an invisible age barrier when they feel as if they must start to suppress these urges.

Q             Quirky. Each boy has his own set of peculiarities: things that are a bit strange, yet also rather endearing.

R             Rambunctious. Boys are energetic, excited, and enthusiastic. Depending on the circumstances, this can either be a positive or a negative.

S              Smart. And not just academically. When a boy has a strong interest in a given subject, he can rattle off makes, models, RBIs, and other statistics with ease.

T              Testosterone. As boys age, this hormone is responsible for the developments that change our boys into men.

U             Un-accessorized. Boys aren’t interested in fashion accessories the way girls are. When a boy does wear a ring, bracelet, or necklace comments ensue, which are not always complimentary.

V             Violent. Many boys will engage in violent play. They will often play-fight, using toy swords and guns and light sabers, or just lots of rough physical contact.

W            Wanting.  Boys don’t seem to go too long without wanting something. Whether it’s a new toy (often something his friend has), a snack, or more sleep, boys tend to want so intensely they regard every want as a need.

X             Extreme. Society seems to consider it more permissible for a boy to want to engage in some sort of extreme activity —  something perceived as dangerous and/or unusual.

Y              Y chromosome.  The chromosome that makes a boy a boy.

Z              Zealous. Boys demonstrate zeal for their likes and dislikes, for their rightness and someone else’s wrongness.

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One Response to Wendy Kennar | The A to Z List of Boys

  1. Lois D'Asaro June 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Thanks for your perseverance in leading me to the Moon magazine article you wrote. I like the reminder of your experience which underlies this writing. Some of the alphabetic explanations resonate with my recollections of brothers (many) and my sister in my growing up. Those I enjoy in how you’ve captured reminders in ways I hadn’t formulated. Others strike no particular resonance. Let’s face it, A-Z is a long alphabet. Thanks for sharing. Keep writing. See you soon. I’d like to know more about Moon magazine. LOIS

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