Real Life With Boys: ‘Recsposition’ is My New Favorite Word

I didn't understand why my husband wouldn't sit down and talk to our boys about their feelings. Now I get it.

I live in a house with all males. Well, scratch that. We got a female hamster in August, and she is a lovely little thing, but she doesn’t exactly stay up late with me chatting about our problems. So, for all intents and purposes, I live in a house with all males.

It has come to my attention over the last 14 years of living with one or more of these creatures that men and women are sometimes different. There is nothing about this that should shock me. Of course we’re different!

I should, at this point, also make clear that I am sometimes slow. Subtleties are often lost
on me. So I was very proud of the fact that I was (with help) able to understand a new
boy thing recently.

Recsposition: the scene of exposition in a romantic comedy in which the male lead discusses the status of his relationship while playing sports.

My parents have a storied history of taking me out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner when big things were to be discussed. Worried about my lean toward new punk-rock friends in high school? Dinner date with mom at Country Kitchen! Dad concerned about my boyfriend in college? A sudden invitation to lunch at Wendy’s! I believe that it was a way to open me up in a new setting. My mom and dad have mentioned a few times that placing me in public was a way to keep a lid on my fiery temper and propensity toward yelling. Tomato, tomahto. Either way, I have come to conflate problems and talking about your feelings with eating one on one in a restaurant.

Fast forward. As our older son gets bigger and has more of the typical preteen feelings and issues, I have been encouraging my husband to take him out to dinner.

“Why don’t you guys go out for pizza together and talk?” I ask.

“Maybe” was his usual response. But nothing ever happened. It was becoming a source of frustration for me.

First of all, I couldn’t fathom not wanting to go out to eat. If someone even hinted to
me that I should take someone out for dinner, the sound of my purse flying and the door slamming would be the only response as I headed out. That is one subtlety I would pick up on. Second, I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to talk to our son. I’d mutter something about men being noncommunicative cavemen as I shuffled off. To blog. About my feelings.

But one day my husband, perhaps finally hearing my grunts of frustration, stopped to “mansplain” it to me.

“I’d rather take Emmett out biking or go play ball with him. That’s when we really talk. That’s when we open up.”

Oh! A visual montage of all the times they ran out the door to play or bike or hike together started playing through my mind. OK, then. I get it now, I thought.

So I decided to try it myself. Last spring, Emmett and I began to walk to school together whenever the weather was bearable. And I’ll be damned if that man of mine is not a genius! Most of what Emmett talked about was football. OK, fine. No real breakthroughs there. But, he also sprinkled in real feelings, thoughts and concerns. On his own! Without me even mentioning it! Brilliant.

Recently, I saw a video on Slate that defines this behavior and gives a fantastic (and pretty hilarious) history of it in American romantic comedies. They have dubbed it recsposition”: the scene of exposition in a romantic comedy in which the male lead discusses the status of his relationship while playing sports.

For me, it was one of those rare moments when we find something that puts a stamp on a belief we held but hadn’t realized was universal, something we didn’t have a word to describe. So, now I have a word for it. My husband and I can use shorthand in the future.

“Honey, I’m out for a little recsposition with the boy,” he could say. I will nod and understand. I will not grunt or mutter about cavemen.

Boys are different. Thank goodness I slowly catch on.

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