This afternoon my boys and I were sitting on the couch watching a documentary film in air-conditioned comfort while the temps soared above 90 degrees outside. As we were watching frigate birds in the Galapagos, a new message popped into my email inbox on my laptop. It was a photo hubby had taken of my sisters and I at Kathy’s wedding rehearsal lunch today. I downloaded the photo onto my laptop and examined it. We look pretty good for a few old ladies, I thought. (Only one of us is under 40…and that one will be 40 in less than a year.)
Then, I got curious about something. I paused the movie, turned my computer so the boys could see it, and asked them a question.
“Who is the prettiest?” I inquired, showing them the photo.
They looked at me like I was crazy and said nothing. They were not interested in playing my reindeer game. I looked at Joe who is by far the more honest, less polished child.
“This isn’t a trick question. I promise,” I said.
He scanned my face but his expression said it all. He had no intention of touching my question with a 15 foot pole. He uttered not a single word. So, I turned to Luke. He smiled at me.
“What do YOU think?” I asked, staring into his cute little face.
With the ease of a future politician, he answered, “You’re all pretty.”
“Uh huh,” came my reply. I could see right through him, so I pressed a little harder. “You think we’re all equally pretty?”
“Yes,” he asserted, sounding 100% convinced. I had to give it to him. The kid is slick. I gave up on him and focused again on Joe. I was certain Joe would crack under the scrutiny. His honesty would betray him. I knew it.
“I promise I won’t get mad if you say it’s not me,” I pressed. “Really. I’m just curious what you think.”
He continued to look at me, saying nothing. He was glancing over my shoulder at Luke. I spun around quickly to see Luke pointing at me. He was prompting his brother, lest Joe should offer up what they assumed would be an incorrect response. I rolled my eyes and gave up. They clearly did not believe me when I said I was merely curious and that there would be no repercussions for admitting that I was not the prettiest girl in the photo.
And, you know what? Good for them. Although I truly wasn’t testing them and was simply curious about their opinions of their old mom and their aunts, had I been testing them they would have passed with flying colors. I was impressed by their ability to spot a potential land mine of feminine wiles and avoid all pitfalls. Joe is smart enough to keep his mouth shut when cornered. He’s definitely learned that it’s better not to say anything when you’re not sure. And Luke, with his textbook, female-friendly answers, will be very popular with the girls someday. Every once in a while I get the rare opportunity to see how staying home with my boys and talking openly and honestly with them, especially about how to deal with women, has influenced what kind of young men they are becoming. Today was one of those days, and today I got an A. Yay, me! Now, if I could just get them to put the toilet seat down, I’d finally earn that A+.