Chapter 2-Growing pains
By Chris Wilson
The joys of dealing childbirth and childhood, let alone what happens from then on will be discussed through adult eyes in later chapters, but when we are a baby or a young child life is very simple, as any personal differences between men and women are of little concern except for knowing where and who to turn to for food When we emerge from the womb though, it is a bit of a shock. It has been nice and warm for about nine months, albeit the accommodation has been a cramped during the final stages, but then things turn nasty. Possibly our most amicable host is rather tired of lugging us around, or maybe a fraction fed up as we put the boot in, but out we suddenly pop and boy oh boy don’t we get a surprise. We are hung in the air, given a smack, if needed, and then thrust into the arms of a creature that we scarcely know. Never mind; she seems quite happy to feed, us so life, after this very shaky start, begins to settle down.
At first life is wonderful as we have no real responsibilities, and there is simply nothing that we cannot do. We can roll around, scream our heads of, burp, fart, urinate and defecate, as someone will always come and clean us clean up whatever mess we chosen to leave behind. Food is readily available and, more often than not, it is provided in just the right shape and form. It is just right to eat, dribble or regurgitate, or, just for fun, to throw all about the room. It really is a wonderful time, and one that we will remember for years. There is however something of even greater interest around us, and that is the outside world. It surrounds us on all sides, and though it seems very big, as do its occupants, and utterly incomprehensible, it is also fascinating at the same time. When we first look around it is annoying as, lying on our back or crawling around on all fours, we cannot really investigate what is there, but soon all that changes. We hop up onto two legs, and everything begins to change. We are a little unsteady when we first get going, but after a while we get the hang of this walking and running locomotive trick, and, even better, we get round to really seeing lots of other individuals who seem to be very similar to ourselves. How they have ended up standing before us we do not really know, but they seem very friendly, just as we would wish to be, so thus begins a fascinating and potentially joyful period of our lives. Of course we adults all know that some children grow up under appalling conditions of extreme physical or mental depravation but let us assume we have been born into a world where we are well fed and well attended to, how do our lives carry on from there?
Up until the age of seven to eight, life is fantastic. Whatever the adults that surround us see is immaterial, this is the period of our lives when we can act with freedom, learn at our own natural pace, and where the differences in the sexes do not matter a damn. At the time we are growing exponentially, and such is the pace of our discovery of the world holds around us, that it seems to be ours to control. Nothing however is quite so simple, and all too soon life begins to get just a little bit weird
It really is very disappointing, as some of our childhood friends seem to be acting a little strangely, and most of our freedom seems to be coming to an end. Up until now we have all got along together but slowly, silently, a terminal divergence begins to occur. Boys become boys, and girls become girls, and from that fatal moment nothing is ever the same. Little do we know this is just the very early stirrings of more powerful and troublesome changes and power imbalances that will affect us, but for the moment both sexes keep on looking at each other with both growing fear and interest, despite not knowing why this is so.
If you are a boy all of a sudden the girls we have been playing with for years step back, gather together in little huddles, and begin to laugh and giggle. They start to play with silly dollies when we want them to carry on playing football. They say that we also have dollies, but that simply isn’t true; we have action man or superheroes, after all you’ll never a boy with a doll. They are just silly, and they just don’t understand. Worse still is their dress sense. Adults around them do not only put them into silly frocks and dresses, but they then try and get more of the same. The worst thing of all though is when they stop laughing, for that is when they begin to whisper and stare.
When boys look back at girls they don’t actually know if girls are in possession of information that is denied to them, but by the look in the girls eyes, it seems very likely they do. Never mind, we still have other friends so we keep on being boys, keep on kicking footballs and other balls about and, given half a chance, we keep on climbing trees. What happens when we do this, nothing whilst the girls aren’t around, but if they are there, what then? Some girls of course join in, they are the clever girls, but as regards the rest of them it’s different. They act all superior. They march away in a huff with their ridiculous prams and silly dollies, and then, of course, Mummy and Daddy are informed. So what happens then; we get a bollocking or a denial of privileges, while all the time some nauseatingly smug little pram-pushing Barbie princess looks on as if she had just been crowned a Queen. Little do boys know that this is a trend or a factor that will come to haunt them for years!
Adults soon shut up though, and having told us off, they soon disappear so we can start our games again. That’s the theory anyway, but the girls have one last trick up their sleeves. They begin to talk, with apparent authority of some of the peculiar things to come later on in our lives, and to our innocent ears it sounds, at best, either absurd or disgusting; and at worst, downright insane. The rubbish that they plant into our ears really is beyond belief. When they talk of storks, chimneystacks and gooseberry bushes it’s bad enough, but then they go further; and remember, they have only been talking up till now. Soon it gets worse for then they start to giggle and whisper, and horrible impossible stories start to emerge. All about changes to boys and girls bodies, all about things going in and babies coming out of tubes and channels in the body, and all about other things that we don’t even want to know. To make it worse all the time they are telling you they are looking at you, and whispering and giggling fit to kill.
By this time little boys wish that little girls had never even been born, but then life kicks in once more. Not in a nice way of course, that would be too easy. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere girls and boys begin to change and the balance of power shifts once more. Suddenly the growing pains kick in. Sugar and spice, and all things nice; that’s what girls are made of? Not at age eight they aren’t to be sure, and it doesn’t get any better for a good few years to come!
For the next four years there exists what can only be called a phoney war. Both sexes make out they are terribly mature and that they are in full control of their minds and bodies, where as in reality they haven’t got a clue as to what is going on. The trouble for sexes is that they keep on hearing whispers, both internally and externally; regarding what is about to happen to their respective bodies. This would be fine if such changes were actually occurring, but though they are caught by the odd incoming squall, the main oncoming storm seems to taking an eternity to actually arrive.
So what do we do as a kid in the meantime; we posture, we parade, and we ape the actions of those who are going through what is to come. Off course we feel, and know, how superior we are, and we behave very mature for our age. The trouble is all the adults just treat us like slightly backward children rather than the young adults we know we have become. Now this is a problem for both sexes, but even here boys are at a disadvantage. Girls seem to handle this period better than boys; or at least they think they do, and being the stupid girls that they are, they let you know all about it, over and over again. So the eternal war of the sexes resumes once more, let’s look at the combatants closely, and then see how both actually behave. You, as a guy are standing on one side of the passageway, while on the other side stand a bunch of girls.
At the centre of group stands that gorgeous redhead from class 3C and you know that you want to get to know better; so what do you do? It is quite obvious really. You stand there, all calm, cool, and collected, and with your hands casually resting in your pocket, you send a sophisticated message of attraction over towards the girl of your dreams, who you know will return your affections in turn. Or do you? What is far more likely is you blush, glower, and glare over towards the group and, with your hands feverishly fidgeting deep within your pockets; you come over like an absolute fool. Meanwhile what is this new love, or lust, of your life doing? She, of course, is in total control of the situation. She is languid and totally collected in her thoughts, and easily sends back a message over the divide so as to accept, or more likely reject your amorous advances. Once more though, is this really true? Of course not as she is just as uncertain as you. She blushes, sniggers and hides behind her mates, only peeping around them for a reassuring look to make sure you are still there. Furthermore she breathlessly whispers the immortal phrase of
“He’s looking at me!”
Her friends dutifully whisper and giggle, in return, but the sad truth is that neither party has got any clue what is going on. If anything were to happen everybody would probably run away. It’s all a game, just a game, which has been played out over thousands of years, but it is important as it prepares both sexes for the more imitate battles to come. Is anything else likely to happen at this stage? Probably not, although deeper consequences can arise when insufficient care is taken. At most there might be an awkward and totally fruitless fumble, or perhaps a snatched and amateurish game of kiss and run, or possibly a sweaty paw in the hand. The fact is that both parties are scared rigid of each other, but at least they have had some practise so that they can deal with the storm that is now at hand. Can you hear the thunder, and the flashing lightning bolts? The teenage years are upon us, now our bodies really begin to have fun.