Stephany Greene laughs at the things she has learned about men from her young son
The lessons span generations -- from taking care of herself to allowing men time to play
And sometimes, her 9-year-old son tells her, "Boys do crazy things, Mom"
Editor’s Note: Stephany Greene is a fashion designer, TV host and author of “Stephany’s Style Secrets: 7 Steps to Live and Dress Your Best.” She has designed menswear collections for the NFL, NBA, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Perry Ellis. You can follow her on Twitter @stephanygreene. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
When a Phoenix teacher, way back in 2004, offered four students the option of learning marine science through textbook lessons or by building an underwater robot, the students chose the hands-on approach.
I’m the single mother of a wonderful 9-year-old son. At 46, I’ve learned more about men from being his mother than I ever learned throughout decades of dating, marriage, divorce, engagement and a broken engagement. It’s true.
We talk about everything under the sun. The authenticity with which his boyhood exhibits itself constantly keeps me on my toes as often as he keeps me laughing. I thought I knew everything, but by watching my son’s perspective on life – he doesn’t hide anything – I learn more about the male species.
In his innocence, he breaks it down better than 100 hours of Oprah can. For instance:
Mommy, why are your legs so hairy?
Lesson No. 1: Men like it when women maintain their looks
Whenever I’m burning the candle at both ends, my son reminds me to take care of myself. The first time he noticed my hairy legs was the first time I realized I had let my personal grooming go a little too much. As a fashion expert, my image is usually rather polished and stylish – in public. However, in private, when I get home the first thing I do is I take off my bra and change into cozy sweats and a T-shirt. If it’s winter and my legs are hidden (and I’m not dating anyone), I confess that I often forget to shave. Only my son and I know that I let the hair on my legs grow a liiiiittle tooooo loooong when it’s disguised under pants during the winter. When he notices, I know it’s time to remind myself to maintain my self-esteem for myself … and my man.
Your legs are so pretty, why don’t you wear more dresses?
Lesson No. 2: Men love it when women wear dresses
Nothing humbles this fashionista more than when my son asks me to wear dresses more often. I only wear dresses if I’m attending special evening events, so his eyes light up whenever I step out in a dress. I’ve been blessed with my mother’s and grandmother’s pretty legs. I rarely used to show them off. Now I do – because my son reminds me that I should.
Sometimes boys do crazy things, Mom
Lesson No. 3: Sometimes men do crazy things
The other day I heard a thumping noise coming from my son’s bathroom. He was using the toilet plunger to create what he called “cool sounds” on the wall. I had a fit. I was openly annoyed at him for spreading germs on the wall. He was tasked with wiping the wall down with antibacterial wipes. After he finished he said, “I’m sorry. I know it didn’t make any sense. But it was fun! Sometimes boys do crazy things, Mom,” to which I replied, “You’re right!” I all could do was hug him and smile.
When can I have a play date?
Lesson No. 4: Men behave better when they’re allowed to play
To all you smothering women out there. “Stop!” My son gets ants in his pants on rainy days. He pouts, he gets moody and irritable whenever he can’t release his male energy. He thrives whenever he plays with other boys. I would rather be a golf widow than stress over my man’s whereabouts.
Cars, sports, bars, smartphones, computers, techy stuff and video games. These are just toys for big boys. If your man needs time to hang out with the boys, don’t try to stop him. If you encourage him to go outside and play, he’ll come home even faster when the streetlights come on. No matter how old they are, men will always be boys at heart.
I’m a big boy now Mommy!
Lesson No. 5: Men will always be boys, but they want a woman to treat them like a man
My son loves it when I treat him like a big boy, and I let him do big boy stuff with other boys. Even little boys want to be treated like big boys. If I had a dollar for every time I unknowingly emasculated a man (before I learned better from my son), I would be a gazillionaire. I grew up assuming I had to work as hard as a man if I wanted to lead a successful life. I thought that meant I also had to lead men in my personal life. If I had known better, I would have let my man wear the pants while I led him in a dress.
Now I wear more dresses than ever … and I shave my legs, too.