Right now I may be raising boys, but I gotta keep my focus on the big picture - because I'm also helping develop them into men. Men who will be boyfriends and lovers and husbands and fathers and coworkers (or bosses or CEOs or doctors or the President).
There's no shortage of posts containing thoughtful and heartfelt advice from mothers of sons in exactly this scenario. Mothers who want to teach their boys that they can be strong and powerful, yet sensitive and tender. BUT. This isn't that kind of post. Sure, it's ten key pieces of advice that I want my boys to know, but this is more practical, less profound. I'll leave the sappy stuff to a more eloquent blogger.
#1: You're supposed to be scented, not suffocating. I'm talking about cologne and body spray. Please, by all means, use it - because it's far better than Eau de Armpit. But don't layer it. Don't bathe in it. Don't douse yourself with it until people can smell you before you enter a room and for ten minutes after you leave.
Smelling great is a definite plus, but making people's eyes water with a cloud of manliness is not. Use basic hygiene first to make sure you smell good (soap! Toothpaste! Deo-for-your-B.O.!) and use the cologne as a light enhancer, not a funk-cover-upper.
#2: Flowers are ... okay. It's nice to bring your significant other some flowers. I never received a bouquet of flowers and threw them down in disgust (and incidentally, if someone ever does that to you, kick that heifer to the curb). HOWEVER, flowers take precisely zero thought. They're something you can grab at a gas station checkout, for goodness sake. If you really want to make an impact, buy something that shows you know what she enjoys. I'd be a lot more impressed by anything zombie-themed or, like, a six-pack of delicious cupcakes. Which brings me to the next point ...
#3: Expand your recipe repertoire. Ramen noodles and frozen pizza have their place in life - when you're in college and broke (and speaking of college, don't ask me to send you money if you're gonna spend it on beer). But as you become a man, branch out a little bit. Learn to cook something. It doesn't have to be beef tenderloin with porcini mushroom and smoked onion saute and a pea salad with creme fraiche and herbs ... mmm ... wait, what was I saying? Oh yes. It doesn't have to be fancy, is my point. Have a good recipe for lasagna and some sort of casserole and learn to roast a chicken and bake cookies. (Especially cookies.) It's not rocket science, but it's definitely a skill that will serve you well.
#4: If it's overflowing, take care of the problem. If your toilet runneth over, you fix that crap without hesitation, right? Right. So the same should hold true for overflowing trash cans and sinks full of dirty dishes. If you ignore the problem, you're part of the problem.
#5: Be nice to your waiters and customer service people. How you treat the people who are there to help you speaks volumes about, well, whether or not you're a jerk. Be patient and gracious and if you have a problem, understand that it isn't their fault. Work with them, not against them, and you'll get much further. Plus: you won't be an a-hole, which is pretty much the biggest takeaway from this tip.
#6: Hormones, schmormones. Sometimes, women are in a bad mood. Sometimes, there's very little reason other than a bunch of small back-to-back annoyances. When that happens, you should try to be understanding - and if you can't be, then just step back and give them some space. What NOT to do is accuse them of PMS'ing or being hormonal. Just ... no. While hormones do indeed cause some mood swings at certain times of the month, they are not the cause of every grumpy mood. Women have legit reasons for being pissed off that have absolutely nothing to do with our internal workings - we're not delicate creatures who are at the mercy of estrogen fluctuations. However, that being said ...
#7: Periods suck. There's no two ways about it. I don't know one single woman - except for those in, like, maxi pad commercials - who is enthusiastic in ANY manner about the monthly visit from Aunt Flo (unless she's had a pregnancy scare, but even then, the joy is short-lived). So what can you do? Be sympathetic. Be manly enough to buy tampons and Midol, and while you're at the store, pick up some ice cream. I guarantee you'll be the biggest baby in the universe when you come down with a case of the sniffles, so remember how nice it is to be taken care of when you're feeling like crap.
#8: Remotes are made to be shared. We all have shows we like to watch. Fine: watch your shows or your sports or whatever. But if you're asleep? The remote is fair game. Don't doze off while clutching it tightly and then snap awake with a testy, "I was watching that!" when someone tries to change the channel. Seriously. When all you're watching is the back of your eyelids, let someone else have a turn with the TV.
#9: Hole-y does not equal holy. You'd think those tattered underwear were priceless relics, the way you cling to them, but seriously: when your boxers or briefs develop more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, it's time to chuck those babies in the can and purchase some fresh. I mean, there is literally no point to a pair of undies that is essentially nothing more than a waistband with some strips of tattered fabric attached. When your junk is hanging out the front even when you're not peeing, give them up. New underwear is cheap. Getcha some.
#10: No socks while sexin'. I've come to the conclusion that most mothers don't mention this to their sons because they don't want to think about their darlings doing "the deed," even when they're grown men. But I'm putting it out there because it's important. Do you know how silly - how utterly ridiculous - a man looks when he's completely naked except for socks?? I don't care how cold your feet are. If you're getting ready to "get down," then please, for the love of all that is sacred: TAKE. THE SOCKS. OFF.
These may not be the wisest, most valuable pieces of life advice my sons ever receive, but they're important nonetheless. If I can send a few less men out into the world in holey boxers and a cloud of cologne, well, I've done something right.