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Thursday, April 29, 2004

This girl's life—with boys

I tease my husband that when we got married, I was the one with the toolbox. It's no lie. I did have my very own tools, thanks to my dad who made sure his girls were independent and prepared for anything. It's been a running joke in our house ever since. Need something assembled, programmed, fixed...go see mom. I've spent every Christmas morning putting toys together, whether it's a Little Tykes play set or Playstation 2. At Ryan's second birthday, Danny was in the kitchen kibbutzing with our friends and I was putting Ry Guy's trike together. (Danny was razzed about that for weeks.) And it doesn't stop there.

Take this morning, for instance. Ryan and Patrick were headed out at 8, ditching the bus in favor of riding their bikes the nearly 3 miles to school. Just as Patrick headed down the driveway, his bike chain popped off. "Mom!" And so there I was with my coffee mug on the sidewalk, still in my PJs and a bike turned upside down so I could fix the chain. I sent them off with a kiss and a "gimme some love" and headed in to start my day, greasy hands and all.

I like being self-sufficient. It's a good feeling to know I'm not afraid to get my hands a little dirty if necessary. I'm sure my dad instilled that in me long ago. My sister, Jen and I are what my grandmother calls, "Gzdynia." I'm not sure how to spell it, but it's Ukrainian and it basically means good, capable, strong girls. I have two brothers, but when it came to certain physical jobs, my dad always called Jen and I. "Girls, come help your dad cut down this tree." And so we'd traipse outside and sling a saw, carry wood or simply hold the ladder for dad.

Few women sit around and dream of raising a bunch of boys. I know a few who wish, out loud or in private, that they had a sweet little girl to mold. But, God gives you what he does for a reason. And he saw fit to make me into a "boy mom." As such, I've learned things I never dreamed I would. I know about Under Armour (actually, if it wasn't so expensive, I'd buy it for everyone in the family), the subtle difference between football cleats and baseball cleats (no matter, they are all expensive), the daily lineup on ESPN (Is it me or is Tony Kornhieser THE most annoying human being on television?), when the NBA (July) and NFL (last Saturday) drafts are held, how to buy an athletic supporter for an 8-year-old (OK, that's an experience), that I want nothing whatsoever to do with mouthguards (yuk!), and that boys really do care about things like socks (don't even touch Ryan's footies).

This week, however, took the cake as far as boy stuff goes. My husband and boys talked me into watching American Choppers on Discovery. I've sunk to a new low. If you've not seen the show, it's about a father-son, custom motorcycle shop in Rock Tavern, NY. The business is Orange County Choppers, as in Easy Rider-style motorcycles. At first, I resisted. But they were pleading with me to give it a chance. And so I plopped on the couch and watched. It was hilarious, watching the banter between father and son in the business as they fabricated a retro bike for Jay Leno. Aside from the comedic antics of father and son (Paul Sr. has the hugest pipes I've ever seen!), the show had a certain creativity that spoke to the creative in me. Young Paul Jr. was creating a chopper motorcycle for the talk-show host by pulling inspiration from a vintage bike Leno already owned. And he brought to the process his own unique vision of what this bike could be. He has quite a talent. So now, I guess I have to tune in with the Danny and boys to watch this show weekly. I do draw the line, however, at "Cops," which I found out (because Mikey always squeals) they watch when I'm not around.

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