Your turn, Guys

Au­thor of guide for ado­les­cent girls turns her at­ten­tion to boys

Calgary Sun - - LIFE - LEannE ItaLIE

NEW YORK — At­ten­tion boys: You will grow taller, sprout hair, sweat more, de­velop mus­cles, fight break­outs, ac­quire deeper voices and ex­pe­ri­ence changes to your pri­vate parts.

And those are just the basics!

Dr. Cara Nat­ter­son, the pe­di­a­tri­cian and Los An­ge­les mom who has con­nected with mil­lions of young girls through her best­selling Care

& Keep­ing of You books has now writ­ten one specif­i­cally for boys. She takes a headto-toe ap­proach to pu­berty and ado­les­cence af­ter years of re­quests from par­ents for a book boys can claim as their own.

“Boys have very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion in the print world. Our so­cial con­ver­sa­tion about pu­berty has been largely di­rected at girls,” Nat­ter­son said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “We are re­ally good at talk­ing to girls about pu­berty and body changes and so­cial changes and emo­tional changes, but we are re­ally bad as a so­ci­ety in talk­ing to boys about it.”

Mixed with all the usual stuff are facts about how genes work and the ups and downs of early bloomers ver­sus late ones. But Nat­ter­son goes deeper in her Guy Stuff:

The Body Book for Boys, serv­ing up the dif­fer­ence be­tween con­fi­dent guys and ar­ro­gant guys, for in­stance, and urg­ing boys to not only own their own per­sonal spa­ces but hon­our those of oth­ers.

Nat­ter­son’s ad­vice is writ­ten in meat-and-pota­toes lan­guage with a touch of boyfriendly sass and light­hearted il­lus­tra­tions cov­er­ing all con­tin­gen­cies, such as how to care for greasy hair and dan­druff. As for ears, keep ‘em clean, guys, Nat­ter­son coun­sels, while also dis­pens­ing ad­vice on such things as car­ing for pierc­ings and the dan­gers of blast­ing mu­sic di­rectly into one’s head via ear­buds and head­phones.

She does the same for eyes (“Se­ri­ously, don’t stare into bright lights”) and for the mouth (she ex­tols the virtues of floss­ing). Nat­ter­son takes on more em­bar­rass­ing stuff, too, like box­ers ver­sus briefs.

As for the face, she does some myth bust­ing: “Shav­ing doesn’t make your hair grow back thicker, but it might look that way,” she writes. “That’s be­cause when you shave, you cut the hair straight across, and the blunt end looks big­ger than the nar­row, ta­pered end of un­cut hair.”

Good to know, es­pe­cially for the 9- to-12-year-old set Nat­ter­son hopes to reach, along with older boys who may read the book.

Much of the more gen­eral in­for­ma­tion is valu­able for girls, too, with sim­i­lar tips in the three books Nat­ter­son wrote for them. In ad­di­tion, she has put out companion vol­umes for moms and daugh­ters to share, with how-to scripts and a joint blank jour­nal that in­cludes writ­ing prompts — all in­tended to start po­ten­tially sen­si­tive con­ver­sa­tions.

Nat­ter­son and Amer­i­can Girl Pub­lish­ing put out the first book for girls, The Care & Keep­ing of You, in 1998, later up­dat­ing it and split­ting it into two vol­umes, one for younger girls and one for older girls. In all, Nat­ter­son’s books for girls have sold nearly 6 mil­lion copies and re­main favourites among ed­u­ca­tors, doc­tors and par­ents, said Nat­ter­son, who has two kids, a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl.

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