While I grew up with three sisters, A Father’s Path for this dad has been one of all boys. In my third decade of fatherhood, certain sounds that were once mysterious, are now part of the decoding system of understanding my two sons.
Active as they are, they have both made sitting a sport. Never do their bottoms gracefully meet the well-crafted and once functional couch. It is a fall, a decline, a dive worthy of score cards. Studies have found that boys, in general, have a gender edge in the skill of “targeting” or throwing deftly at objects. What seems missing in these studies, is the acknowledgment that their bodies are, at the least, a subcategory of things thrown.
The sound produced by the event is recognizable a floor below. The hiss, plop, gasp or groan confirms the descent. Early on with active boys you make choices. Set limits ceaselessly or just await the time when they and the couches move out in one truck. The first time we heard the whine and woody snarl of the couch, we chose the latter. No going back.
Another sound is better deciphered in an adjacent room. One hears a random but persistent thwick or slap followed by a loud thud that can shake the entire floor. This is the “test your vertical jump” competition that starts early with low hanging objects, and the indoor season continues yearly depending on how high your ceilings are. One sleepover many years back gave rise to three elementary school boys trying for hours to touch the top of the door jamb.
Since the boys have been able to reach the 9-foot ceilings downstairs, we are pretty adamant about that event staying in one room. In a certain light, random parallel trails come to life, tracing across a ceiling that will surely need two coats. No CSI forensic team or witnesses needed. Anyone with teenage boys can identify the streaks of skin and dirt…
There are many other boy sounds, some evolving with maturity such as those emanating from secret indoor sports arenas. Or esoteric games that if you randomly walked in on, you would have a hard time figuring out who was winning and who was losing and what the game actually was. You might find articles of clothes scattered, and tools used for other games morphing into launchers for “targeting.” Sting Pong comes to mind, the evil cousin of Table Tennis. From the game room or the garage you hear slightly muted screams, laughs, and long loud whoops, followed by the smack of bare skin soon to be welts. All quite normal—if you stretch the meaning of competitive fun.
Still the best sound once they learn how to drive, or are old enough to hang out with someone who does, is the sound of the car engine slowing out front, a door closing and a door opening. The sound of coming home. Safe and sound…