Oh, Boy! by Pete Springer

Who knows when I first met Pete Springer? The guy is amazing. Not only was he an educator for 31 years, he’s published a book on teaching (that I read and reviewed!) and is working on publishing a novel for young adults. In his free time, he continues to influence and praise the work of teachers, administrators, hairstylists, family members, waitresses, and a stray dog that looked like he needed a pat on the head.*

Photo of Pete Springer

His only fault was trusting me, Chel Owens, to write a post over at his blog. At least he was gracious enough to repair some of that damage with a post of his own, below.

I give you: Oh, Boy! by Pete Springer

First, I apologize in advance for the list of stereotypical comments that are about to come. I detest making sweeping generalizations about anything, except lima beans—they all suck! When you’re a guy, you can get away with saying stupid and crude remarks like, “this sucks,” because the bar is set so low, and no one expects us to utter anything resembling intelligence.

Boys? I’ve seen my share of them over the years. After all, I’m the youngest of four boys. I also taught elementary school for 31 years, so I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing the biology and maturity of boys and girls.

Photo Credit to Cleyder Duque on Pexels

What people say about girls maturing faster than boys is generally true. I taught in grades 2-6, so I can provide many first-hand accounts to support that opinion. The difference between 2nd and 3rd-grade boys and girls is enormous. (We’re talking Grand Canyon.) I often laughed to myself, looking out at my sea of faces. Most of the girls were attentive and would do anything asked of them.

Meanwhile, boys were often wiggling and unable to sit still. Several times a year, this involved falling out of their chairs. I recall calling a parent once to tell him that his child got injured at school, falling out of his seat.

Just because males are slower to develop than our female counterparts, we must not overlook their creativity. For example, 2nd and 3rd-grade boys don’t look at pencils as tools for writing but as objects to fly through space while making sounds like “speeeesh.” One of the techniques that usually gathered my students’ attention was to stop talking. Awakened from their slumber, they’d look around to see what was happening. “Now that Springer has stopped yammering, maybe I’ll pay attention.” A select few were so oblivious that they didn’t notice the quiet and continued their Apollo space missions while I looked on in wonder.

Speaking of pencils, boys take special pride in sharpening pencils to tiny nubs. I have no idea why this is just a guy thing. Some of my boys would walk up to me in the middle of class to show me their tiny pencils, thinking I’d be impressed. I was not, and even less enthralled when several times a year, they’d get them stuck in the classroom pencil sharpener. My college professors from teacher prep classes neglected to tell me I’d become a skilled surgeon in extricating pencils from the sharpener.

Photo Credit to Pixabay

As boys move into upper elementary school, they become fascinated with jumping. While they no longer fall out of their seats, they have a curious habit of jumping up whenever passing under a doorway. My theory of why this happens is that as boys mature physically, they constantly want to test their bodies. For guys, it’s always about lifting more weight, running faster, and jumping higher. Since I’m declining in all those areas, I look for ways to hang on to my glory days. One of my bedtime rituals is cranking out 40 pushups to prove that I can still do it. 

Another truth for most elementary-aged boys is they love to laugh whenever someone farts. I’ve watched a classroom go from zero noise to uproarious laughter in seconds when someone passes gas. Some 6th-grade teachers like me were brave or foolish enough to take their classes on end-of-the-year sixth-grade campouts as a means of recognizing the end of the elementary school experience. Several times I had to sleep in the same cabin with my boys. With nearly 100% certainty, there came a time when someone would fart, and the rest of the group went into hysterics. What followed predictably was another “accidental” flatulence, and the cycle repeated itself until I instituted a “no farting” rule so that we could go to sleep. It was all rather pointless as there was no way of knowing who the offending parties were in a darkened cabin with twelve boys and no realistic way of enforcing such a stipulation.

People frequently ask me what my favorite grade was to teach, but the truth is there is something extraordinary about every age. I preferred teaching the girls through fourth grade because while the boys were all over the place, the girls were usually eager to please and respectful. By sixth grade, the boys had finally matured (minus the farting), but many of my 6th-grade girls became impossible and downright cruel to one another. While the boys could get quite competitive and sometimes lose their tempers during recess games, there seldom was any carryover once they’d calmed down. By the next recess, everybody was friends again. Unfortunately, such was often not the case with my sixth-grade girls. They had a habit of hanging on to grudges and not being able to let things go quite so quickly.

Photo by Norma Mortenson on Pexels.com

Our upper-grade classroom took on a rather distinctive odor when spring rolled around. I’d describe the smell as a combination of wet dog, vomit, and rotten eggs. The boys, especially those who hadn’t discovered deodorant, were usually the culprits. That was the point I broke out my award-winning hygiene lecture. (Add that to the laundry list of items my college professors failed to communicate.) Upper elementary students are not known for their sensitivity and uttered phrases like, “God, you stink!” to one another. Without fail, some boy would overcompensate by bathing himself in a half bottle of Old Spice aftershave. We all know how brutal that five o’clock shadow can be in 6th grade.

While I like many things about boys, I think it’s time to admit that men have managed to screw up the country after numerous chances. Let’s give the women a chance. Besides, that will provide us with more time to yell at the television during sporting events, drink more beer, and improve our belching and farting skills.

© 2021 Pete Springer

Pete blogs over at https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com His very helpful and interesting book on teaching is available for purchase at: https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052.

Photo of Debbie and Pete Springer

*I have no evidence that Pete patted a dog on the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, though, and even took that dog home and gave it a warm meal.

56 thoughts on “Oh, Boy! by Pete Springer

    1. But look at your boys now, Stevie. One day they suddenly grow up and become men. I remember when our son went through the shorts phase. It could be the coldest day ever, and he would have worn shorts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Leon wanted an earring because all his friends had one. We eventually gave in. However, when he went to Army Cadets, the man in charge pointed to it and shouted “What the hell is that?” He never wore it again!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I already know we’d get along great. Hobbo. I’ve had dogs my entire life—mostly big dogs (lots of labs) who were great with kids.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. what a fun way to exchange your blogging gifts!

    I would question whether boys ever catch up; as I seem to recall, when we look at students that need to be put on academic probation at the end of their first semester in college, it is heavily weighted towards guys. For the most part, the women just seem to better have their act together.

    that sounds like torture sleeping in that cabin all those years; I did it once as a chaperone, and that was quite the experience.

    and I don’t think the humor in farting ever goes away…

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    1. My boys are such poor students! They’re better at general life skills (and pencil-sharpening to nubs) so they might make it as adults.

      And I thought the same thing about the farting. It’s like the saying that boys never really grow up. 😀

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      1. I think I’d much prefer to know how to fix a drain at my house (which I have no clue how to do) rather than know to prepare a set of financial statements! traditional school is not for everyone…

        I am Exhibit A of never having grown up…

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    2. I think that has to do with guys concentrating more on girls than accounting professors. I mean balance sheets, and profit and loss statements may be pretty exciting stuff, but you are swimming upstream, Professor Borden.

      I can think of 100 things I did that were pretty torturous. We once had a school sleepover on Thursday night for some special privilege, fed the kids dinner and breakfast, slept with them on a hard school floor, and got up the next day and taught. That was pretty torturous. Yet, I loved it all.

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  2. I only have one boy, and thank goodness! This helps me feel less guilty about my second grader not being able to sit still, which I always assumed was because he was in Kindergarten when schools closed, but now I’m also a little terrified of what’s to come as he gets older.

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    1. One of my boys’ teachers tied a plastic strap to the front of the desk for the antsy kids to kick all day. Problem is, soon every kid wanted one. 😀 She also had wobbly stools and a pillow corner…

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      1. All of this sounds quite familiar. Other measures included some kids with squishy balls that they could manipulate with their hands when they had excess energy, and one teacher I knew utilized different kinds of seats that allowed the kids more freedom to move. Some children would be quite content standing next to their desks doing written work when necessary. I know some teachers would never allow this, but I put that into the category of “does it matter?” If the kids were learning, I say, “why sweat the small stuff?” But as you said, the other kids always want to know why they don’t have the same privileges.

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    2. We go through these great and challenging stages with our kids, Kat. Much of the time their unpredictable behavior is simply biology at work. My experience has been there are some great years with your boys when they’re in upper elementary school. Then, around middle school, kids tend to think, we don’t know anything. The good news is as they become young adults themselves, they realize their parents weren’t such idiots after all.

      I wish you well with your kids. Second-grade boys are still sweet even though they tend to be hyperactive. That makes up for a lot of the other stuff, especially understanding they’re not purposefully being a little rambunctious.


    1. Having taught at the same school my entire career, I taught many 2nd generational students. There were a lot of boys who shared their dad’s personality traits.

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  3. Great post Chelsea, your special guest knows what he’s talking about. Loved it PS – I did my fair share of farting in class. Must be an Aussie thing 😁

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    1. In just about any context, boys laugh when someone farts. I once had a guest speaker in class who asked the kids if they had any questions. In the middle of the silence, one of the boys let out an enormous fart. Fortunately, the guest was as amused as the boys were.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Pete. Having raised a girl and three stepsons, I will second your opinion about how different they are, and also how many strengths each have too. I wonder how much is culture and how much is simply nature working its magic. A fun guest post, Chelsea. Great to see Pete here. 🙂 Happy holidays to you both.

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    1. It would be interesting to learn if boys and girls act the same in other cultures. I suspect there would be more similarities than differences, but I also believe that a person’s environment/exposure must have some effect.

      I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing holiday, Diana.

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      1. I suspect we’re all a little hardwired due to tens of thousands of years as cave people where gender roles were necessary for survival. It’s certainly interesting to talk to people who break those molds. 🙂

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    2. Ah, shoot, Diana. How did I miss you? Kids are so different from each other. I can’t tell you how many times I was wrapping up a parent/teacher conference and the parents would thank me and then warn me about their next child. “Just wait until you get Patrick.” 😂 Nature has a way of keeping us humble when we think this parenting gig isn’t so hard.

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  5. Pete’s distinction between girls and boys remind me of my youth and also watching Charlotte playing with her boy cousins… They can be so different, even in just how they communicate and play.. My nephew is often jumping off walls and skipping stairs.. Meanwhile Charlotte will just be twirling by herself off in the corner 🤣

    Reading Pete’s words also made me realize that boys/men tend to take pride in their material accomplishments (what they acquire through achievements) while girls/women tend to take pride in how ppl see them (what value that puts on them)…. A generalization, of course, but seems quite common? I’m thinking of ppl I know and have met.. 🤔

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    1. I’m more of the latter than the former. Material things aren’t that important to me other than I wanted a nice house. At the same time, I think guys have a tendency to reminisce about the way we were. I’m not in denial about getting older, but I don’t want to think of myself or be seen as old. My move is to joke about it.

      I wouldn’t describe my wife as materialistic, but she is the one with the BMW while I’m content driving my economical hybrid. I think gender differences are one of the most interesting things about people.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I work in a Montessori school with grades 4-6. The difference in maturity is blended a bit better, but there are obvious tells to who is in 4th vs 6th grade. I see more drama issues about relationships in the younger grade and more drama about assignments/group projects in the upper. It’s a very unique experience being able to see the different age levels in one classroom.

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    1. I’ve often wondered about that with the Montessori approach. I seriously considered finding a school for one of my boys who is advanced intellectually but delayed maturedly. 😉


    2. I started in 5th and 6th grade and realized early on that I couldn’t just let them partner themselves each time. Some kids are always overlooked while there were others with who everyone wants to partner with. It’s pretty eye-opening to see how much kids change in two years compared to adults.


  7. I have two daughters and one sister while my ex was raised with three older brothers. The situation you’ve described here and a presumption that he experienced a similar one probably with his brothers somewhere along the line might explain why he thought I could control my farts. Would you believe that might have contributed to our recent divorce?

    This post gave me a reason to see if he might be right before I commented. According to this website https://www.vox.com/2014/12/4/7332411/fart-flatulence he was wrong.

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    1. I’ve heard this about fart-shame and was actually thinking about it today! A lot of it is my organs all readjusting after the C-Section, but I have historically worse issues with gas than my husband. I’m glad I’ve only felt my own embarrassment about it and haven’t felt he’s judging or controlling me.

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Norah. I may be retired now, but I will always support other educators and pay attention to what they’re doing. I’m so proud of you for finding your path with Readilearn and making a difference in children’s lives. By the way, great work on some of your YouTube productions!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your kind words, Pete. For me, as it is for you, education is a part of who I am. Take it away and I’m not sure there’d be much left.


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