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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Heather Ijames

I was at the grocery store, waiting on some take home pizza. The day was Good Friday, and nothing says holy day like the buzz and pandemonium of an overcrowded WinCo. It was also one of those rare moments in time when despite my nervousness about taking the boys together to the store, as a unified, spastic front, they were actually behaving. Pizza was on the line, though, and I think I might have promised them a Redbox movie, too. Then, from across the store, I saw two of my friends walking toward me, smiling.

Of course, I wanted to talk to them. It had been ages. In fact, the last time I saw them was at Target and the conversation ended abruptly because we had been talking in the wine aisle and my youngest tried to scale the Chardonnays to get to the candy on the other side. (That was his excuse anyway.)

Before the same friends made a stop in front of me at WinCo, I checked down at the boys again, and they were still acting fine. Two little boys holding up the wall, waiting for a pizza and the hope of a movie from the Magic Red Movie Machine outside. What harm could it be to have a little chat?

Three sentences later, my quiet little boys, the ones who had been holding up the wall, were now running circles around me like an EF-5 twister. I was stuck in the vortex, not able to hear anything that was being said and hoping the boys stopped soon, if they stopped at all.

I tried to grab one of them -- couldn't tell which one I was going for on any one rotation, and rightfully it didn't matter -- but it was no use. I had to send my friends away so I could devote my full attention to the kids and give them my angry eyebrows.

On the way home, I was still frustrated and they were pouting over the absence of the promised, but revoked, movie. I complained later on in the day to another friend and she said, "Well, you know . . . boys."

I guess. Yet, even though there's a study out that says a mother can kiss 2.83 years of her life away for every son she has -- that's 5.66 for me, folks -- I'm still utterly glad I have sons. Thus, here are my top five reasons to be glad you have a son:

1. You learn to make your words count. Let's face it, they're hardly listening anyway. After three words, you're going to lose contact. The channel scrambles or their mothership is interfering with your connection. Whatever it is, having a son is the epitome of self-editing. Also, you can dispense with the need to ask inane questions because a boy child will only ever offer you an inane answer. That is, of course, if you can consider the avoidance of eye contact and the shrug of his shoulders a bona fide response in the first place.

2. You learn to keep low expectations. This covers many areas: a clean house, inside volume, walls free of holes, smudges and ninja sword scuffs. It also covers a mother's wishes to keep her children from looking like hobos. I used to think that having sons didn't mean a compromise on this point, but you know, I'm not really not that interested in taking out a second on the house to make sure they go to school with jeans that don't have holes in the knees.

3. Your senses numb. Smells, potty jokes, accidental elbows to all sorts of personal areas are just day-to-day things. Also, I can officially claim "underwear head" as a term of endearment. I think it means thank you. Or, something like that.

4. You are encouraged to be more physically fit. There are lots of good reasons for this one, but one of my favorites is that you'll be able to go at least a mile with them when they run off after a maliciously low-flying bird before you inevitably collapse and die. I mean, even if you perish, your son will know you tried, right? That's got to mean something.

5. The journey in transforming a son is shorter than transforming a daughter because one day, far down the road, a son will hopefully get married and then his wife can be the bad guy, trying to convince the mothership not to block the line of communication after the fourth word from her mouth.

I love you already, future daughters-in-law. But in case you didn't have any brothers growing up, the Magic Red Movie Machine outside the store works for husbands, too. Sometimes.

-- Heather Ijames is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Ijames, not necessarily The Californian. Send email to her at