I was in my lab the other day (OK it was the beach) and I was informally studying the behaviors of pre-adolescent boys (it was hard to miss the large group of unsupervised boys that were fine except during the safety break). I was trying to figure out how just a few months ago I sat in awe as a group of 50+ pre-adolescent kids, supervised by only one man, managed to reproduce (loosely) the magnificent sounds of Mozart. Johnny’s band concert was amazing. Yet here, on a sunny afternoon with probably some of those same kids, there seemed to lack some of that focus, that intellect.
Observing the pre-adolescent male in his natural environment caused my eyebrow to furrow at times, at times my eyes to squint is disbelief and at times to smile, envious of the fun they were having and the carefreeness they enjoyed.
However the following observation highlights one of the unique characteristics of the pre-adolescent male brain. The kids had probably been there all day and thus perhaps were running out of things to do… maybe. So one kid is standing on the beach with a wet tennis ball. The other kid is floating with just his head sticking out of the water. HE is the one who suggests, “Hey, throw the ball at my head as hard as you can and I won’t move.”
The other boy of course said, “No, don’t be silly, I might hurt you, come on lets take a break and read on the beach for a bit.” WRONG
His eyes light up at the chance, he smiles and giddily whips the ball at he kids face as hard as he could!
I have a couple of pre-adolescent boys and truthfully I could see them playing the same “game”. However, how is it that we would have a hard time picturing a couple 14-year-old girls in their cute bikinis splashing around a bit and then, “Hey, Olivia, why don’t you throw this ball at my head as hard as you can!” Or can you imagine a couple 80-year-old guys finishing up water aerobics at the Y and as one gets out of the pool, the older one, still bobbing with his floaty belt, “Hey, Willard, whip that tennis ball at my head!”
Thus I believe the behavior I witnessed is unique to both gender and age. I’m not sure what evolutionary purpose it preserves but what do I know, my teaching license only goes through 6th grade after that I know nothing!