Saturday, January 19, 2013

Middle School Boys Are Pantsers

It's Friday night as I'm writing this, and I'm sitting here in the midst of a sleepover for my middle child who just turned 12. How do you turn this aging thing off? Seriously! I'm tired of them getting older. Once May gets here, we're going to lose our last single digit child, and that's... very upsetting.

Anyway, I'm sitting her in the midst of this... well, there's no better word for it than chaos. Maybe cacophony. Actually, I really like the word cacophony. It just has such a cool sound to it. See, it's hard to stay on track with all the noise Noise NOISE and the constant distractions.
"Even better than the real thing... child..."
"Oh, my gosh! You guys are so premature!"
And, um, a lot of video game babble that I don't understand and can't repeat although the words "Mario"  and "Zelda" are common.
And there seems to be an outbreak of wet willies.

But all of that is beside the point. If there even is a point.

Well, no, there is a point.
"You're on  the road, but you've got not destination..."
The point is that middle school boys, possibly all boys, are pantsers. Other than  the fact that I bought some pizza and that they had cake, there is no plan at all involved in any of this. At all. In fact, if there had been a plan, a plot of any kind, it wouldn't have worked, because you can't get all of them onto the same thing at the same time unless it has to do with food, and  there was no way that I was going to plan a sleepover that totally revolved around food.
"Through the storm, we reach the shore. You give it all, but I want more."

But, see, I know this about boys. They are kind of easy that way. You invite them over and make sure they have video games available, and they are totally self entertaining. Maybe a movie when it gets late. Actually, yes, a movie when it gets late otherwise they just keep playing video games until they become comatose. That's another word I like, by the way.

You want to know some other words I like? Sure you do. And, if you don't, well, that's too bad.
"Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?"
I like "adamant" and "belligerent." I like the sounds of both of those, too, and I especially like them because they sound like what they are.
"Did I disappoint you or leave a bad taste in your mouth?"
I mean, if I didn't know what adamant meant, I could almost guess it just from the sound of the word. And belligerent sounds like someone itching for a fight.
Did I mention the wet willies?

See, boys, they don't need the plots. They just do their thing. Sometimes they're doing it together, but never are all of them doing it. There's always one or two off on the laptop or some iContraption doing something completely separate from everyone else and being completely fine with it.
"But I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

"No! No pillow lights!"
"Wait! No pillow fights! Turn the light on!"

And now it's time for Mad Libs. With poop. Seriously. Every single one of them has to have the word "poop" or some variant at least once. Unfortunately, some of them are really funny:
"What big poops you have!"

But anyway...
You see how difficult it is to stay on track with all of this... this... stuff... going on?

I'm quite sure this must be what it's like to pants a book. See, the thing is, the boys, they're okay with what's going on, but no one else has a clue as to what's happening or what they're talking about.

My daughter got bored with them. She went off to practice her accordion because she didn't have anything else to do. The boys never noticed she left.

It's completely different from when my daughter has a party. Those things have to be planned. Plotted. Completely. They want things to do. Activities. A time frame. It's an entirely different experience. Okay, true, my daughter's not quite a middle schooler, yet, but I'm pretty sure this isn't gonna change. And the boys have always been like this.

What I do know is that if I were to try and introduce a few girls into this party and make them play by the boy's rules, they'd drive me crazy with how bored they'd get. And, during one of my daughter's parties, if I were to try and put some boys into it, they'd just wander off and not participate.

I don't really know what all of this really has to do with writing other than that different types of people like different kinds of things. Some people like books that don't have a distinct plot where things just sort of happen. Some people like books where only things that matter to the story happen in the story. What I do know is that the two types of people don't mix very well.

I won't be planning any co-ed parties for a while, that's for sure. Wait, what's that I said about halting that whole aging thing?

Oh! Also, don't forget the Great Chocolate Contest in which you could win the greatest chocolate in the world (that I've ever tasted)! Seriously, this stuff is as good as Russel Crowe's ego is big!


  1. I'm not sure which would be worse - a party of boys or girls.
    I think by the time I hit my teens I began the switch to more structure. Probably somewhere in the middle now. We take a trip, I like it planned but not forced.
    You posted this on Saturday morning, so obviously you survived!

  2. I lamented my first two kids turning double digits. My last is going to kill me.

    I have all girls, and they make a different kind of noise at sleep-overs. It's shrill and high pitched and decimates your ear drums. Also, they are plotters. Because my girls make a schedule and list of all the "fun" things they want to do, all night long. Arrgh!

    I don't think I will be planning any co-ed parties, either, LOL

  3. This is the easy part, Andrew. Girls are generally planners for parties, you're right about that. Guys don't want to plan too much - def pantsers.

    It's the teens where the real angst comes in. Each year, another layer of innocence wears off. Good luck!

  4. Great way to re analyze boys in all their craziness, but you do realize that girls still rule and boys drool, right?

  5. I agree it'd be great if there was a cheat code to enter, like in The Sims game where you can just turn the aging off! :)

  6. You are SO right. I have two boys and, although they are loud and boisterous, they don't require much. For my son's 16th birthday all he wanted was some friends over for a pool party, some flaming hot cheetos and some pizza. Easy peasy!!!! Sure beats the thousands of dollars some of my friends spent on their daughter's sweet 16 parties.

  7. I've always thought men were funner than women. But that may have to do with my sexuality.

    I'm not sure I'm quite sold on the link between pantsing and gender though.

    I would like to see a more thorough study involving thousands of participants, a control group, and monitoring over several years.

  8. PT: Um... I don't know what you mean. Unless that's a word you like?

    Alex: The ones for girls are much more draining in that they take lots of involvement to keep things on schedule. The ones with the boys make you want a cone of silence or something. So I guess they're draining in a different way.

    jaybird: Yeah, I know how that is. My daughter's birthday is not until May, and I'm already having to tell her "I'm not ready to talk about that yet," because she's ready to start planning it down to the minute, right now.

    D.G.: Well, I have one that's about to turn 17, also. Sometimes, he's pretty easy to be around, but other times...

    Tammy: I certainly know that boys drool. And fart. Oh, my gosh, I was sitting here in the semi-dark this morning (because I had to get up to take care of the animals) while the boys were still sleeping, and it was just a room full of farting!

    G_G: Oh, man, I know! My wife would probably abuse those cheat codes, though, if they existed. Of course, we could use the rosebud(?) one and get rich!

    JKIR,F: I know! Throw food at them, and they are perfectly happy! But girls! They are SO much work!

  9. Michael: Well, I was just reporting on my observations. It's not scientific or anything. Although, I also have 20 years of working with teens that back up these observations. It would be an interesting study, that's for sure.

  10. I am not ashamed at all to admit that I laughed at the poop Mad Lib.

    Those were U2 quotes throughout, werent they?

    I liked this post a lot. It was a fun read. And now I'm thinking of words I like to say.

    Plus your "noise noise noise' reminded me of Poe's "Bells" which reminded me of the word tintinnabulation.

    This has been a good day.

  11. Briane: You should hear the whole Mad Libs. We actually had to limit the number of poop words that could be used so that they wouldn't all be poop.

    Yeah, except for where it's stuff from the party, it's U2 quotes. I needed something in my face to cancel their noise, which I was actually thinking about Grinch when I wrote that, but Poe is good, too.

    Only one extra child left, so the day is looking up here, too!

  12. "A boy tries hard to be a man, his mother takes him by the hand..."

    Yeah, after reading this I'm convinced my novel has the heart of a twelve year old boy beating inside.

    Glad you survived the night. My only child will be sixteen next month!!! Gah, it really does go fast.

  13. I like to believe that one day in the future we can arrest aging as per the sci fi books. Won't affect me, but maybe all these kids of yours, or even their kids.

    Deltiologist and cacography are my two most favourite words

  14. L.G.: Why? Are there are lots of butt jokes in it?
    My oldest turns 17 next month :(

    Jo: "Science" keeps saying that my generation will be the last to have to die. By the time my kids are adults, they expect to know how to turn off the gene for aging.

  15. Haha! I have three boys and when they were growing up I always thought they were easier to deal with then I figured the daughters of some of my friends would be...sure there was a lot of noise noise noise noise!..(and wet willies and wedgies)...but we had a lot of fun too. I totally remember being upset at how fast time was going by when they, one by one, started turning double digits...and then the my oldest is 31 and you know what? It did go by too fast. And, truth be told, they never get tired of 'poop' jokes!
    I'm totally interested in anything that can turn of aging, which is one reason I work out and take supplements...looking for the fountain of youth I suppose!... and some of my favourite words are 'handy' and 'sausage'...also 'clavicle'...I just like the way they sound.

  16. Eve: Ah, clavicle. Yeah, that one has a good sound to it, too.

    As for kids, my one daughter is much more difficult than the two boys combined. That's an understatement.

  17. Entertaining post :) Love the line, "You guys are so premature" Pretty funny. I can't say I'm not a little nervous about my girls reaching their teen years. I was pretty much a tomboy and a little scared of boys through high school and I'm hoping they'll be the same way.

  18. My absolute favourite thing about the word "adamant" is that the eighties glam punk dude stole it for his stage name: "Adam Ant."

    Most of the women writers I know are pantsers (I am not. I am a plantser, but that's another story.) Maybe parties are not novels? I don't know. Maybe more novel writers should write like they're having a sleepover with their best friends. That sounds like a reasonable moral.

  19. Jess: Oh, I don't even want to think of when my daughter reaches that age. Although I don't really think I'm worried about boys. I'm more worried for them.

    Elizabeth: Did he really take his name from that word? I had no idea! I thought it was just one of those things that happen.
    And, yeah, I think more women do tend to be pantsers in their writing. Maybe it's a release because of so much planning in all the other aspects of their lives? Or, maybe, it's just because there are more women writers. Darn! Now, I want to know that!

  20. Sigh. I went to the movies with my boy this weekend. Some pretty young girls came out and I saw his face get red and he suddenly wished I wasn't around. I was quite sad. He generally doesn't have much interest in hanging out with me anymore and whenever he agrees to hang out I tend to get excited.

    Sigh, he's talking about what he wants to major in in college and what careers are out there for him. I just want to buy him a transformers toy and tell him to have fun.

    Anyway, I'm hoping to have something for the chocolate contest before too long.

  21. And I just started two consecutive paragraphs with a sigh.... wow.

  22. Rusty: That's okay, I feel like that all the time. Sometimes, I have to go take those things out so they won't be everywhere.
    Transformers used to be my younger son's favorite thing in the world. I really enjoyed that phase. Let's just say it's been long enough ago that he barely remembers them and they're all packed away.

  23. Huh...I'm surrounded by male planners. Only my youngest just goes with it-plan or no plan-

  24. Rebecca: So they wouldn't like the video game-esque party unless the video games were planned?