Women have always been a mystery to me. I never had any sisters and I never had any daughters. Mother thought I was a punishment from god and grandma lived way down on the desert somewhere most of the time. Girl cousins were something we saw once a year at family reunions and the kids who were my childhood friends were named Jim, David and Chester. There were no girls in our neighborhood. The girls I saw at church were all gussied-up in pink chiffon and appeared to be very fragile. Mother warned me not to get them dirty and I was careful not to knock any of them over.
The little girls at school always wanted to play kissing tag, but then they kicked me in the shins when it was my turn to do the kissing. It was all very confusing. Luckily, I did get most of my kissing tag done before it was known as sexual harassment. Kissing tag today will get a first grader expelled and sent to baby jail.
I do know a little about boys. I have four brothers and four sons. I served with the boy scouts, little league, the high school wrestling team, the army, and the coalmines before they allowed girls. Dad was a cop who carried a gun to work and my uncles were deer hunters and backyard mechanics. My heroes have always been cowboys, soldiers, and masculine, super-hero archaeologist types.
As a teenager I dated a few girls, just enough to learn the basics of the mating rituals of my endangered species. As a bashful, innocent and unassuming young man I was totally unprepared for the rigors of the chase. It took a while to learn that yes means no and no means yes and I was supposed to be able to read their minds and know that they really didn't want to go pheasant hunting on a first date. Who'd a thunk?
I did marry a beautiful, wonderful young woman, a reluctant pheasant hunter, but it was her idea and I got married under false pretenses. Back then she promised to cherish, honor, and obey me. So far she gets an A+ for the cherish and honor part, but when it comes to obeying me, forget it. And, life has taught me that marriage is only an extension of first grade kissing tag. I still get kicked in the shins a lot.
So it was with some apprehension that I agreed to allow two of our young granddaughters to come and live with us for the summer. On the outside they appeared to be sweet and harmless little creatures, all sugar and spice with ribbons tied twice. One wears the pretty face of Ireland, with flaming red hair, freckles, and shining brown eyes. The other has the pure, ivory-toned face of an angel, framed with silken brown hair and a smile sure to melt an old man's heart. When we got them, one was four, going on five. The other was five, going on six.
Since we've had them, grandma is 65, going on little sleep. I'm the old troll under the bridge we read about in the baby books. But, we all get along surprisingly well. After all these years I'm learning about girls from my granddaughters.
In spite of our modern co-ed, unisex attitudes about sports teams, college dorms, public restrooms, jobs and the American military, there really are differences between boys and girls. Little girls are born bi-polar. They can go from the depths of despair to giddy euphoria in a lightning flash. They are perpetual, emotional train wrecks long before the onset of PMS. They are more territorial than tigers but will kill kittens with kindness if not supervised closely.
And, they're not as fragile as this chauvinistic old grandpa once surmised. They bounce back pretty well. They love Tarzan swings, trampolines and climbing trees, even while wearing dresses. They're good at swimming, fishing and chasing chickens.
They love to wear pretty dresses, new shoes, and have grandma fix their hair. They love parties, curly fries, going to church and praying to baby Jesus.
Best of all, they're fragile little creatures. They need cuddle-time two or three times a day to feel reassured, comforted and loved. That's the big payback.
Grandma and grandpa need to be reassured, comforted and loved, as well.
What a lonely, dreary place this world would be without armloads of little girls.