Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Overblown Underwear Incident

I used to loathe the saying "boys will be boys." I thought it was used to excuse poor behavior. Oh, Johnny beat up Joey? Well, boys will be boys! Oh, Johnny is pressuring Janey for intimacy? Well, boys will be boys! And on and on ad nauseam.

Yesterday, Jacob got in trouble at day camp. When I walked into the room, he shuffled over and mumbled something. After a few tries, I finally managed to understand him. "I took out my underwear and sniffed it." The camp counselor, an older woman, walked over toward me. I approached her in confusion, and asked for clarification because I had to be missing some information.

She explained that the children were waiting to change clothes after returning from the pool. A group of boys were trying to gross out a group of girls. The boys took their clean underwear out of their backpacks and sniffed it, causing no small amount of shrieking and squealing from the girls. Since the girls were "highly offended," the boys were soundly lectured and punished with a loss of recess.

It took me a few minutes to digest the story. Then, I had to stop myself from laughing. I suggested ever so tactfully that perhaps, just perhaps, the counselor had overreacted a bit. Boys sniffing clean laundry is hardly harmful behavior. Mildly inappropriate? Sure. Worthy of a dirty look? Sure. Worthy of a lost recess? Absolutely not. My criticism was not well-received, to say the very least.

At any rate, I'm sort of thinking this is an example of boys being boys and girls being girls. Boys sometimes like gross things. They sniff underwear - and not always clean underwear. Girls sometimes like to be offended. They squeal and shriek and create drama. While I think that inappropriate behavior should be corrected, I wonder about our definitions of inappropriate behavior. For that matter, I wonder about our definitions of correction!

What do you think? Will boys be boys? Is that a problem?


Katie Alender said...

Well, when I was in kindergarten, I showed everyone my underwear because, I told them, there was nothing special about a piece of fabric.

Ah, good times.

So you read The Cloister Walk? My absolute favorite book of all time? What did you think?

Christy said...

I'm still reading it. I don't really like the author very much, but I like her ideas. So I'm struggling with it a bit. She's very different than me and it's a little hard for me to deal with her disorganization and flightiness.

Laura said...

In this instance, boys will be boys. It's not like they took the underwear and rubbed it in the faces of the girls - they sniffed their own (clean) underwear. I just don't see the harm.

blackbird said...

How old are they?

I'm leaning towards boys being boys and girls making drama as a clear picture of the events, but I'm guessing an administrative type person would feel that it is a violation and that action must be taken...
you never know which parent is going to call the camp and complain - someone usually does.

Jen said...

I think it's boys being boys. They sniffed clean underwear, big deal. LOL At least it was clean.

Kelley said...

If all they did was sniff their own underwear, then I think the councilors should count themselves lucky.

A better response might have been for each boy to write a note of apology to the girls and/or teacher and/or parent for their less than socially acceptable antics.

And the girls should have written letters of apology for shrieking.


In the end, I'll bet everyone thought it was funny except the councilors. And I'll bet it won't keep a single one of them out of finishing school.

Christy said...

All the kids in question were 6 or 7, so kindergarten and first-graders. And I'm laughing so hard at the thought of the apology for shrieking. Claire is just finding those girly lungs of hers and wow! Girls are LOUD!