As a wife and the mother of three sons, it has come to my attention that in general, individuals with an XY chromosomal makeup tend to be a teensy, tiny, bit less industrious in some domestic tasks than individuals with XX chromosomes. Simply stated, many males don’t seem to be inclined to work as hard around the house as most females. Although this tendency may be observed at any age, it is never more apparent than in the teenage years. As the sole woman in my household, I’m in charge of the laundry. I have scooped up and laundered countless pairs of wayward dirty socks, briefs and boxers, casually dropped on the bathroom floor or draped across the nearest bed.
Fortunately, I actually derive a measure of satisfaction from doing the laundry, so I really don’t mind the work. But I do worry, from time to time, that this careless casting off of clothing is a sure sign of—God forbid—laziness in my teenage boys. As a card-carrying Type A workaholic, I rank laziness right up there with irreverently sassing one’s mother or skipping school to hang out at the local pool hall.
To add fuel to the fire of my maternal concern, my two teenage boys often seem incapable of dragging themselves out of bed in the mornings or remembering to take out the trash. If not for my interference, I feel certain they could remain virtually motionless on the couch for days on end, playing games on X-Box or texting their friends. In my darkest moments, I’m convinced that these are sure signs that my teenagers will grow up to be unemployed ne’er-do-wells, still living in my basement in their late twenties.
Fortunately, my 27-year-old son, Chad, recently dispelled my fear that teenage lethargy invariably leads to adult laziness. Last month, I drove with my daughter-in-law, Lindsey, to attend a homecoming ceremony for Chad and his fellow Marines who were returning from an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan. As we drove to the military base, I asked Lindsey about some of the men in Chad’s unit: a soldier fondly known as “Biscuit” and one called “Grease” by his buddies. As she shared the latest news about these Marines, it occurred to me that my son might also have a nickname.
“Does Chad have a nickname?” I asked, bracing myself for a potentially unflattering moniker.
“Yes!” Lindsey laughed. “The guys call him ‘Chuck Hustle.’ They say he works harder and faster than anyone, and they have to run to keep up with him. ”
I was speechless. Tears of maternal joy and pride sent my carefully-applied mascara streaking down my cheeks. My lovable, easy-going Chad, the former X-Box-playing, late-sleeping, laundry-producing, couch-warming teenager had matured into an enthusiastic, hard-working, Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps known as “Chuck Hustle.”
Moms of teenage boys, take heart. The rapidly growing bodies of adolescent boys require lots of sleep and rest. Until they are emotionally mature, they may not see the need to voluntarily pick up their dirty clothes or take out the trash. In spite of experiencing bouts of teenage lethargy, chances are excellent that our teenage sons will grow up to be happy, hard-working and self-sufficient young men. When the realization hits you, let’s hope you’re wearing waterproof mascara!