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boys & girls                

Boys and girls play well together when they are young. Preschoolers give little concern to gender when picking a playmate. One simply chooses whoever is around that has a compatible energy level.

They continue this lack of discrimination into kindergarten. Then, they suddenly become obsessed with bathroom functioning. They come to realize boy and girl body parts used at the toilet look and function in different ways. They become obsessed with it, with how and why? They peek under eachother's stalls in bathrooms. They pretend they are one another, experimenting with transexuality.

Why then, on the first day of first grade, do the boys want nothing to do with the girls? Is it something they learned during this experimentation that scared or disgusted them? Freud might say that they become afraid that if they hang around girls, they will lose their penises; it happened to the girls, it could happen to the boys too. I just don't buy it. From my experience, penises are firmly attached and seem less likely to fall off than a finger or a toe.

So I asked my adult male friends. They were boys once, surely they must remember why, all of a sudden, did they want nothing to do with girls. Almost every one of them stuck to their childhood explanation, girls have "cooties". What are cooties? I am sure I did not have them as a girl. (As a teenager, I did get cooties once, and it was from a boy!)

"Why do I care?", you ask. First because I have a seven year old girl who was very distressed a year ago when suddenly half of her friends stopped talking to her. She was very hurt and confused. It destroyed her confidence and self esteem. And more importantly, she had no one with whom to trade Pokemon cards. Second, because I think it holds the key to the successes and failures of male/female relationships. My relationships. From first grade on, the opposite sex has baffled me. And my own behavior to the opposite sex has been equally baffling.

Why, when the boys run away, do the girls chase them? Why are small girls invariably attracted to the boys who are most shy? Like cats who jump in the lap of the party guest who most fears them, girls are drawn to the scared little boys, increasing the boys' fear and desire for distance.

Perhaps all animals want most what they can't have, an instinct that promotes evolution to something more capable.

But can evolution explain this: The girl, cornering the shy boy, tries to kiss him. Huh? I did this to Patrick McDonald and to this day I do not know why. I watched my daughter get scolded in school for trying to kiss Miles Sturken. She can't explain it either. Is this the thing they fear most and we were using it to intimidate them, get them back for not wanting to catch bugs and climb trees with us anymore. Or is there something about a kiss, a quick peck of your lips to the squirming boy's cheek that is satisfying in and of itself?

How can I expect my male peers to explain their childhood behavior when I can not even explain my own.

My brother-in-law told me that boys keep clear of girls because they know girls are smarter. Hmmmmm. Can I trust an answer like that? It is true that my daughter's girlfriends are able to inflict much more pain with words than the boys do with their rough play. Girls are trickey. Girls are mean. Girls say, "If you don't play my way I will not be your friend anymore." Girls say, "Let's not play with her, she talks funny." Girls say, "Let's pretend that we want to be her friend, just until she gives us some candy." Boys on the other hand just punch you, grab what they want from your hands, and ignore you. It's mean, but it's a bit more direct. And, you'd have to admit, it's a bit more primitive.

Are boys afraid of our tricky manipulative tendencies? Is that why they initially fear our kisses? Is a kiss a manipulation to make you want more? If done right, it always makes me want more.