How a Boy Loves

How a Boy Loves

With a plastic snake,
That’s how a boy loves.
He wraps it around the milk jug
In the refrigerator
Or puts it under your pillow
So you’ll find it in your
Most unwary, weary moment.
A boy’s affection is
Kinetic and sneaky
Like that.

When a 300 pound
Homeless man slugs you in the face
In broad daylight
On a sidewalk in Manhattan
While you’re working there
And that night
Your 6-year-old calls you at your hotel
To ask if you got a good look at the man,
And you say yes, and he says:
Good, I’m coming up there to beat him down.
Then a boy’s love is
Valiant and just a bit delusional.

He’s mystified when his teasing
That makes you laugh one day
Makes you cry the next.
He will then adopt a certain skepticism
Toward you and your intelligence
Which will fuel further teasing.
But that’s okay,
Because you remember your SAT score.
Besides, your ego is less fragile than his,
Or it ought to be.
A boy’s love is sometimes
Brazen and rough
A maybe even hard to take.

You won’t see it coming,
Because a boy doesn’t plan to love you,
He just executes his expressions
Of that love offhand, as if he doesn’t.
But he does.
He will love you in sparks that,
Random and seldom as they may seem,
Will blind you
With their brilliance
And burn you with
Bursts of wonder.
Catch a boy’s love like fireflies.
It’s abrupt and incandescent.

And then there will be that day
When he writes you from
Texas or somewhere far away,
And he will say it outright.
His love will sound,
No, it will be mature.
He’ll soon be ready to marry a girl
You would have picked
If you’d known how
And he will love her so well,
Not perfect, but better
Than you dreamed
With traces of the way
His father loves you.
And this vicarious love
That isn’t even exactly for you
Will fill you up.
Because that’s how a boy loves.
To make his mama proud.

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  1. Stephanie McCollum April 22, 2015

    You always get it just right! I’m going to print this one out and keep it close so that I can read it when my boys aren’t exactly expressing their love in ways that I quite understand. I am so thankful for the gift of your writing. You words express what I’m thinking, but can’t find the words to say.

    • Kitti Murray April 22, 2015

      ah, Stephanie… thanks! My husband posted it on fb with a note about how husbands love the same clandestine way (not entirely true!). :) So great to hear from you!

  2. Lynda April 22, 2015

    oh, Kitti, this is soooooo true! Did you write this???? It needs to be read by every mom with boys! Made me cry! Can I get this in email form so I can send to my friends and DIL who aren’t on FB?? Love you and your heart!

    • Kitti Murray April 22, 2015

      Hey friend! I just emailed it to you – if you don’t get it, it means I don’t have the right email address. (Which is likely, since I probably emailed you last, oh, like ten years ago!) Yes, I wrote it… the girls edited and made sure it wouldn’t embarrass anyone. :)

      LOVE you much!! And miss you!

  3. Edye April 22, 2015

    Lovely and so true!