In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

Boys Will Be Boys


1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Do you think it's okay for a child to behave badly, just because he's a child?


James sees his student, a girl named Nancy, eating alone in a restaurant.

James: Hey Nancy, where's Chuck? I though you guys would be out tonight?
Nancy: You mean "Yuck," don't you?
James: Whoa! What's the deal?
Nancy: Can you say, "Peter Pan Syndrome"?
James: He won't grow up, huh?
Nancy: He stays out all night drinking beer with his friends, sleeps all day, and plays computer games in the evening. He's in a net café right now, and I'm eating alone.
James: Would it be any better if I said, "Boys will be boys"?
Nancy: Nope. Doesn't cut it.
James: How about, "You're only young once"?
Nancy: That works both ways. I'm only young once, too. This is my youth he's wasting here.
James: I see what you mean. Have you talked about it?
Nancy: Only about a million times. I think I'm going to have to dump him.
James: Well, lots of luck.
Nancy: Thanks.


Some people will excuse any behavior because of a proverb. Others challenge this "ancient wisdom" and expect something better.

For many years, people accepted all sorts of behavior from young (and not-so-young) men because "Boys will be boys." Not anymore.

More notes:
  • "Yuck": Nancy makes a bitter joke; "Yuck" is a sound we make when we think something is disgusting, and it rhymes with "Chuck."
  • Whoa!: An expression of surprise, which can also mean "stop" or "wait a second."
  • What's the deal?: A slangy way to say "What's happening?"
  • Can you say...?: This is a humorous (or sarcastic) way to introduce an expression, or to comment on something. For example, if one of your friends were acting foolish, you might turn to another friend and say, "Can you say 'circus clown'?"
  • "Peter Pan Syndrome": In the book "Peter Pan," Peter was an "eternal youth"--that is, he never grew up. Nancy is saying that Chuck is immature, and will never grow up. "Peter Pan Syndrome" is a mock illness in pop psychology.
  • Doesn't cut it: Properly "That doesn't cut it," it means that something is not sufficient to explain a question or solve a problem. Nancy is saying that "Boys will be boys" doesn't justify her boyfriend's behavior.
  • That works both ways: Nancy means that the expression "You're only young once" applies to both her and Chuck. As she explains, his behavior is keeping her from having fun while she's young.
  • a million times: an obvious exaggeration, but commonly used to mean "many, many times."
  • to dump someone: to break up with someone.


Use the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. My friend never wants to pay for dinner. __________, "Cheap"?
2. A: You need to talk nicer to your students. B: __________. They need to behave better.
3. A: You're a great guy, but... B: Oh my God! Are you __________ me?
4. __________! There's something stuck on the bottom of my shoe!
5. A: Hi, Susan. Those are unusual shoes. __________? B: Oh, these are special running shoes. I'm going out for some exercise.
6. A: I promise I'll never do it again. B: That __________. Don't just TELL me, SHOW me.
7. A: I'm only going to pay you half of what I promised. B: __________! When did you change your mind?
8. I've told you __________: DON'T BE LATE!
9. Robin is 45 years old but acts like a little boy. He's a clear example of __________.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Do you know anyone with "Peter Pan Syndrome"? Is it common in your culture? Is it acceptable?
2. Have you ever been "dumped"? Have you ever "dumped" anyone? Why do people do this? What is the best way to do it?
3. What do you think "You're only young once" means? Do you believe it? How will people live differently if they accept this idea?


1. Can you say; 2. That works both ways; 3. dumping; 4. Yuck; 5. What's the deal; 6. doesn't cut it; 7. Whoa; 8. a million times; 9. "Peter Pan Syndrome"

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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