As an independent consultant, I’m technically not supposed to have an office, but uh, I kind of do. At the beginning of the year I stumbled on an empty third floor room that had windows overlooking the downtown to the north and the Mississippi River to the east. It’s a beautiful view. Not that I spend my time staring aimlessly out the window or anything like that.
I’m actually in classrooms most of the day, but there are occasionally blocks of time when my teachers are unavailable or I have paperwork to take care of. And, heck, I’d have to be blind to not notice the awesomeness of downtown, or the business of the river. And so it happened that one day as I was partaking in said awesomeness (and not staring aimlessly out the window) that I noticed the boats on the river, and the big things they were pushing up and down.
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn’t question the boats and barges. That happened when I had a student in my office one day, and he asked me what was in the boats. I wanted to sound all smart, so I did what grownups do when they don’t know the answer but still want to sound smart. I asked him what he thought was on the boats.
After much thought, he said, “Probably toys and games.” Made sense to me. Of course, they would have to get toys and games here somehow. To maintain my smart teacher status I added, “And books too.” He concurred.
When I dropped him back at his teacher’s room I told her how he had noticed and wondered about river traffic and mentioned his question.
“They still ship stuff on the river?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said. She didn’t need to know I just learned that five minutes ago.
So I started mentioning this to everyone, like I do. And from this, I rediscovered something: Boys know weird stuff.
I asked my brother that same day, all nonchalant like. “Hey, what do they ship on the Mississippi in those barges?”
He didn’t even need to think. “Stuff like grains and corn. Things they need shipped in big quantities that don’t weigh a lot.”
I asked him how he knew this. He shrugged. He just did.
Boys may not know when the dishwasher is clean or dirty, and they may not be able to remember what time soccer practice ends. Sometimes they can’t get laundry right, or be able to see the butter right in front of the fridge. Don’t even try to send them to the store without a list (coded with pictures). But they know stuff.
I asked another male friend and the answer was exactly the same. Then I asked my sister, and she said, “Um. I don’t know. Just stuff, I guess,” and went back to talking about the crazy girl in her office.
A few days later I was having a meeting in my (not) office and we got sidetracked by the traffic on the river. One of the teachers was a boy, three of us were girls. “What do you think they’re shipping down there?” I asked.
There was a somewhat long pause before Ryan finally said, “Grains. Corn. Stuff like that.”
How do boys know this?
It got quiet again for a second, then Jenna added, “I like the blue ones. They’re the prettiest.”
Tina and I agreed.
By Sharon Linde, Education Blogger for SmartParenting