I just spent the morning at my sons fifth grade graduation. One by one they pitter pattered up to the teachers desk and received their testimonies, some more grudgingly than others.
And as I watched them, girl, girl, boy, girl, boy, boy, girl, it struck me how massively the girls had changed since last time, when they finished fourth grade, while the boys by and large just looked like the same goofy little brats they were the year before.
The girls' difference is also most likely not superficial. Their emotional and social development has probably taken a big leap as well. While the boys still pick their nose and spit on bugs. It must be horrifying, watching your coevals acting like savages. "Is this what we're supposed to date? Marry? Start a family with?"
But the boys are still boys. They are not yet even teenagers. And they must be terrified as well, watching the girls change into something weird. Something brewing. As Bart Simpson put it: "I don't like girls, but I think I'm gonna.". Must be bewildering.
And then it struck me. The problem isn't that people say "boys will be boys". The gap is considerable for a long while, even years, and neither party knows how to deal with it. Clashes are bound to occur in the thousands. The problem is that people say "boys will be boys" and leave it at that. We can all see it. It's one of the most blatantly obvious things in anyones life, if you think about it. What is needed is telling them why and how to deal with it. Both boys AND girls. Shouting at boys about things they have no concepts of like the social norms surrounding the relations of consenting adults is no good. It's not going to help anyone. And telling girls to expect veritable children to treat them like adults is bound to lead to tears.
So, girls and boys, beware. For a good chunk of your life the opposite sex is going to transmogrify into weird beasts and bewildering monsters. Don't lose heart. Find someone to confide in. Communicate. Any way you know how. And hope and pray with all your heart that when your hormone fueled emotions run away with you that the adult in charge of the situation is not going to be someone who's going to ignore it, and not someone who will shout at you for being an ass, but someone who knows, someone who remembers that once upon a time we were all raging little monsters.