Of Boys and Pull-Ups

By gerard oosterman

By Helvi Oosterman

The other day Susan Maushart lamented her teenage daughter’s lack of know-how or how-to with fitted sheets. In my youth we would have been so lucky to have sheets resembling huge shower caps. Our mums made sure that we became a deft hand with hospital corners; every girl but NO boy learnt this art of tight, nice and snug cornering.

Boys escape many lessons and it starts as early as potty training time; girls being clean and neat by nature move from nappies to panties in a couple of easy sittings, boys move semi permanently into pull-ups. They are too busy with their war games to worry about potties, and take to this comfort clothing with gusto. There is something magical down there, silicon maybe that keeps you dry even you have just wet yourself, or even worse.

For some blokes the pull-ups will return later on in life, but that’s another story…

Shoes are a must, but shoelaces for some reason are too hard for most males, and so we make life easier for them by inventing shoes with Velcro fastenings or with elasticized side panels.  Summertime the ugly and dangerous Crocs come in handy and later on you’ll graduate to thongs and by then you are also usually more than willing to learn to walk the thong-walk.

The toddler boys can just about manage to put their head through the biggest hole in the t-shirt, the hands and arms have to be guided by patient mums. Nothing tight or woollen or itchy or scratchy is to be pulled over any boy’s head; the tickets and tags at the back have to be removed. Later on that will make life difficult; how do you know what’s the front and what is back.

You have to be a girl to know how to find the right button holes for your buttons; the boys will have zippers or nothing at all. The zippers are no cinch either, the silly fabric gets caught in them and they are made of something hard that feels a bit cold on little male’s extra sensitive skin… So, pull-overs it is, not those old-fashioned knitted things (pullovers) made of sheep wool or something scratchy; let’s keep it soft and simple like Polar fleece. Hoodies are heavenly but not after mum has removed the tag and you end up with the pouch at the front. Please, mum, don’t dare to laugh…

Pockets are the favourite part of any boy’s attire, the more the merrier: one for the coins another for rocks, frogs and iceblock wrappers and other related rubble.

Toddlers, even of the male variety turn to teens one day, and aren’t they lucky to do it now when the shops are bulging with all the brilliantly coloured rescue wear, waiting there just for you to pull it on and find a girl or two in need of being saved from wolves or bushfires depending on where you happen to live.

The female teens are now wearing bras, leggings and flimsy tops and sadly not at all interested in boys dressed in workman’s gear. They are dreaming of older and more ‘mature’ boys who at least have learnt to tie their shoelaces and zip their pipe jeans up, and when needed, down as well.

Of course there are always girls, who are nice and wise, and who instinctively know it’s you boys who need rescuing, and when that happens, we know that the real dressing up starts, maybe a bit of dressing down as well.

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