Happy Mother's Day to Women who Love Burping Boys

May 10, 2020

My sons and I were in the car drinking soda and blue-toothing with their Aunt Karen when the younger one, Nicholas, let out a tremendous burp from the back seat. Mortified in the moment and prepared to follow up with an eyebrow-raising look Aunt Karen could imagine me furrowing toward him, she swooped in with the words every boy wants to hear, “There’s nothing like a good burp after taking a sip of soda.” Permission seemingly granted and unwilling to be undone, my older son, Michael, followed-up with what appeared to be an even more tremendous burp.

The younger boy protested when Aunt Karen thought his older brother gave a louder burp, arguing his position from the backseat created a disadvantage because it placed him farther away from the bluetooth speaker. Aunt Karen reassured Nicholas she was confident he could let out quite the burp. The conversation on burping bravado continued for a few minutes as Aunt Karen asked the ultimate question that challenged their boyhood and rightly my manhood, “who’s the loudest burper in the family?” Without hesitation, Nicholas and Michael yelled out, “Mom!”

Aunt Karen laughed as the boys paid accolades to their mother's burping prowess, regaling moments when her burps morphed that of the common being. In that moment, Aunt Karen completely embraced the silly nature of boys. And after sharing with their mother the homage they paid toward her, my wife couldn’t help but blush in what I thought was either pride or embarrassment.

Meeting these highly successful, professional women, one could hardly imagine them as the type to giggle along with such coarse behavior. Knowing these women on the other hand, one sees the depth of their affection for boys and all the silliness that comes with them and the reason these boys are more likely to turn to them for advice when life’s situations are about more than burping. Acceptance goes a long way in building trust. I believe Aunt Karen and my wife understood the wisdom of Mark Twain when he spoke of the fragile and misunderstood nature of boys: "We think boys are rude, unsensitive animals but it is not so in all cases. Each boy has one or two sensitive spots, and if you can find out where they are located you have only to touch them and you can scorch him as with fire."

It may be the reason people turn to the work of feminist Christina Hoff-Sommers and the way she unabashedly addresses the challenges boys face for simply being boys.

When The War Against Boys emerged in 2000, Hoff-Sommers opened up the floodgates to frustrated mothers and fathers of sons who could not understand why schools targeted their boys seemingly normal behavior with zero-tolerance policies and the over prescription of ADHD medication. Boys were falling behind academically, particularly in reading and other subjects, yet the mounting pressures on them continued. When The War Against Boys was released in 2000, women outnumbered men in undergraduate fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions by nearly 1.6 million. By 2010 women outnumbered men by over 2.4 million.

K-12 education decreased competition, decreased recess times, and structured classrooms and school practices in ways that stifled boys learning styles and inherent nature; quantifiably seen in data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, National Education Association, Centers for Disease Control, and other organizations that show the steady decline of boys and men in school and life if one is willing to dig for the information.

An unabashed feminist who cares deeply about equality for everyone, Hoff-Sommers spoke openly in regard to the state of boys and men only to become alienated by some groups despite her sound research and accolades from others.

In many ways, we're still waiting for the established order to heed the words of Hoff-Sommers. It's the reason moms and Aunt Karen are so important.

Whether you're a grandmother, mother, or aunt, your acceptance of boys remains a necessary, sacred influence in shaping their sense of self worth. This Mother's Day, let's thank all the women who appreciate the nature of boys and men and see the good spots even in a chorus of burps.

We encourage our mothers and sons to share their stories in our comment section below. Let's laugh and love together. Happy Mother's Day to my wife, Theresa, my mother, my boys' grandmothers and aunts, and all the women who make the lives of our sons better: a place the poet E.E. Cummings called "mudluscious"and "puddle-wonderful."

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