One of my favorite activities is to ask my boys to show off their muscles. Because obviously there have been gigantic improvements in their muscles since the last time I asked for a show, four days ago. Boys do not know how to flex muscles. Instead, they do the clench.
Ask a boy to flex, and you’ll see him clench every fiber available in his being at the same instant. During the clench boys also grunt loudly, grind their teeth, and turn bright red from lack of breathing. All boys believe that the harder they clench, the louder they groan, and the redder their face gets – the bigger their muscles grow. They also contort their fists and arms into awesome crooked shapes that look nothing like a body builder, but a lot like that one-legged crane move by the Karate Kid.
At this point it is mandatory that you display profound astonishment at the boy’s strength, as if you have never before and will never again bear witness to such a phenomenal exhibit of power. If you fail to display such wonder, be warned. Boys will continue to clench everything, including lungs and vital organs, turning deepening shades of purple until they have sufficiently impressed their audience.
The more boys you have in the room, the more entertaining the muscle clenching because clearly they all are determined to out-clench the competition. With three boys in my house, I should start charging admission to this event. I usually jump in and shut it down right before I believe significant dental work is becoming imminent.
After you’ve asked to see the show a few times, boys may start reminding you it’s time for a muscle review if you haven’t requested one recently. This is a good time to work in a little of your own agenda as well. I usually say something like,
“Oh my GOODNESS!! How in the world have you gotten so strong???”
Boys beam with pride, clench even more, to produce huger muscles.
“You must have been eating lots of salad when we weren’t watching! Mommy! Have you seen this? Unbelievable!!!”
All three boys still determined to win, but mention of vegetables has clearly fizzled a bit of the clenching.
“Have you been sneaking broccoli from the fridge? Keep it up, buddy. You’re gonna be stronger than Superman!!”
No more clenching, just fake smiling with blatant concern written all over it.
Hey, the clench is a classic power move and it’s not going away any time soon. You have to use it to your advantage.