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Hey, Ladies

“Ladies first!” my son sneered to his brother as they waited to climb into the van to go to school.

It wasn’t the first time I noticed my older boys referring to each other as “ladies” when fighting or trying to insult each other. This is a new development since school started, and I don’t like it.

I turned to him, “So, ladies are so awful they are now a good way to insult others?”

He said no. I explained how his attempt to insult his brother was actually an insult to ladies. Ewwwwwwww: Ladies.

Joel listened to our conversation and piped up, “Ladies are wonderful! For example, ladies are very precise.”

“Indeed!” I said, crisply, as I smoothed my frock, nodded smartly, looked at the time, and smiled.

I dropped the kids at school. The little guys and I decided to go to a playground. We’d go for a short walk, then play. I drove to one of their favorites—a towering, elaborate newer playground in a quiet neighborhood. I unloaded the boys and we began walking a winding sidewalk loop around the perimeter, talking along the way. Massive cottonwoods lined the path, many with patches of yellow leaves heralding an early fall. The exercise, fresh air, and beauty were exactly what I needed to reset. After our lap, I sent Archie and Teddy off to play. Ollie and I sat on a bench and watched the action.

Archie bolted out of a tube slide frantic. “There’s a green…thing! It’s green!” I asked if it was a bug. “I don’t know what it is!” and he ran away. A few minutes later, Teddy shot down the same slide. As he walked away, he looked puzzled and brushed the back of his shirt. A large praying mantis dropped to the ground and he shrieked. I called Archie over. He confirmed it was the green thing he saw and couldn’t describe. I don’t blame him. It is hard to describe.

praying mantis


It’s definitely green. It’s fierce, but dainty. It could be friendly, or not. It’s much larger than a grasshopper, smaller than a bird. As a kid, I let preying mantises walk on me when I’d find them. I put them in the same category as ladybugs—insect rarities, lucky finds. I explained what it it was and we left it alone. Unlike certain other insects, I respect our spindly green friends. When I was in college, I glanced out in the backyard and saw my little dog, Zelda, duking it out with a praying mantis. Both were putting up a good fight until I ran out and separated them. You might think in an insect vs. dog battle, the insect would be outgunned but not in that situation. It was hysterical.

I didn’t tell my boys how lady praying mantises bite off the heads of gentlemen callers, but if I ever hear them use “ladies” as an insult in the future, I think I have a new plan. Ladies are nothing to laugh off or dismiss. We’ll battle the biggest, shaggiest Milk-Bone breathed foes you can throw at us.

2 comments to Hey, Ladies

  • I was having this conversation with my husband the other night. His son is showing signs of this as well (and has since he was 5), I can be a bit of the opposite way, I am hoping that the children will find solid ground. It’s hard to teach them how to respect the other sex (we have a house of mainly girls and they think boys are wusses). Between media, my stupid mouth and other factors, sometimes teaching them that neither sex is weak is the hardest part.

  • amyptucson

    oooh, a pet peeve of mine! I hear it with all versions of “lady” (“girl,” etc.), and from all ages of males. Grrr.

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