When I was pregnant with my first child, I was secretly hoping for a girl. Having grown up with two sisters, girls was all I knew. Having a girl meant being able to fall back on my own memories to guide me as a first-time mother. It was known territory. I knew how to be a girl, how to talk to girls, I knew what girls like....
I had a boy.
I was delighted. Nervous about the unknown, but absolutely thrilled nonetheless. From day one I saw raising a boy as an opportunity. I saw it as a special assignment. I mean here I was, a new mum, presented with the task of raising this little person. Raising this little person to grow up to be a man. It's my role as his mother to equip him with the skills he needs to go out into the world and be good man, a loving and caring husband and father. It's a big responsibility. Huge. An opportunity. As faith would have it, I had me another two boys. I embarked on a steep learning curve and some parts of raising them takes me by surprise. Here are some need-to-knows about raising boys.
(*Little disclaimer: Daughters are awesome, too!)
1. There will be tractors, superheroes, Minecraft and Pokémon.
When my 3-year old saw a tractor for the first time, his face lit up and he went into overdrive with excitement. I didn't understand why. After all, I have always made an effort to avoid gender-specific toys and gender-specific behaviors. The affinity for stereotypical boy's toys is somehow somewhere programmed into their DNA. (I am making a sweeping statement here. I know there is scientific research to prove or disprove that and the opinions vary on this) I am not going out of my way to teach them to love superheroes and "fighting guys". They just do. Boys adore anything that drives, digs, beeps or has a cape. As they get older, you need to have your shit together and know that Snivy evolves into Servine and Servine evolves into Superior. And they are obviously a grass-type Pokémon. Also Minecraft survival mode is a killer compared to creative mode. You can run, but you can't hide.
2. Clothes shopping will be a piece of cake.
Yeah, think again. You thought girls were picky about their clothes and difficult to dress? My boys have my heart broke. They are very specific about what they like and what they'll wear. And more so, what they don't like. I get to dress them up in whatever I like for the first few years, but once they reach the 3-year mark or so, they have a mind of their own. Their fashion allures have been centre of many a meltdown. (Me as much as them!) Don't bother buying cute matching outfits because they will chose the Batman joggers with the Minion T-shirt over anything else. Every day. Comfort over Style.
3. Winky Talk
Be prepared to talk about winkies. And poo. And pee. Boys have a fascination with all three. Be prepared from day one. You will be saying things like "Take your hand out of your pants" and "Leave it alone!" a lot. You might even wonder occasionally if they are trying to make balloon animals. Prepare yourself for helicopter dances (If you don't know what that is, you will know it when you see it!), winkies being flashed when you least expect it and lots and lots of winky and pee jokes. They never get old. Also you will never be able say the words "nuts" and "balls" again without a giggle fest. When I asked my son what his favorite nut was, he said his right one. I was not prepared. Instead of singing "Chase is on the case" (Paw Patrol on repeat!) Chase is on the willy. Where else. And "Leo the Lion" is the King of the Willy, naturally....
4. When in doubt, hug.
Boys love hugs. I hug my boys like there is no tomorrow. I believe a strong parenting bond is built on physical affection and hugs. I will still pull my 9-year-old up onto my lap for a big cuddle. Sometimes boys can have a hard time verbalizing what's on their minds or what's bothering them. Girls tend to be a lot more vocal and outspoken in my experience. So if I can't get the boy to talk, I hug him. If he is happy, mad, sad, as a default cure-all, it works wonders. My 3-year-old loves crawling onto my lap for a big cuddle and we both enjoy this intimacy until he does a little fart on top of me. (Way to ruin a moment!) So I try to teach them that farting isn't cool or funny. So far I have not succeeded.
5. Boys have a great sense of humour.
As soon as they can talk they start making up jokes. Fart jokes are up there top of the list along with poo jokes, pee jokes and yes, you guessed it, winky jokes. When my 3-year old gets into silly mode, it is difficult to make it through a conversation without any of those jokes much to the dismay of his 5-year-old sister. You will be told that your dinner looks like poo. You'll be called poopoo face and winky fart and various other combinations. If you laugh (and it's difficult not to) or give out to him, he just feels encouraged to keep going. So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I am working on my comical timing
6. Boys adore their mums.
They just really love their Mama. There's a strong and unconditional love from the get-go. My 9-year-old can read my face like a book. He knows immediately if there is a change in my facial expression or in the tone of my voice. Boys genuinely care about their mums. I read somewhere a mother is a boy's first love. Perhaps that is true. They stroke my hair when we cuddle and pay me compliments. When I came downstairs one morning my eldest who is a bit of a Greek geek (his words, not mine) said to me "Aphrodite must have blessed you today. You look so beautiful." I mean, COME ON! They are also very skilled at wrapping their mums around their little fingers.
7. Boys cry.
And so they should. I (try to) raise my boys to be in touch with their emotions and teach them that it's ok to have feelings whatever they may be and that it's ok to show them. It won't make them cry babies, wimps or too fragile. There is no such thing as 'too emotional'. Never tell your boy "Boys don't cry", "Toughen up" or "Boys will be boys" because using those type of labels will make them feel like their behavior is being blamed on their gender. Those words attack who they are and they may negatively impact their self-worth. Don't squash, stifle and suppress what's given to them - a sensitive nature. Nurture it. Let them cry and resort to point 4.
8. Pacific Rim.....you will never sit down on the toilet seat again without checking it first because the many times that you have sat down in a little puddle of pee have taught you a lesson. 3-year-old is a bit of a shorty and can barely reach over the rim and the aim isn't great yet much to the joy of everyone else in the house....
9. Boys want to be like their dads. They imitate everything they see their dads do. They want to be manly, strong and tough like they perceive their dads to be. From a young age they will poke their little stick arms in your face asking you to check their muscles and how strong they are. They want to fix stuff, bang stuff, carry heavy things, and pee standing up. A dad is a son's first hero. Batman got nothing on him.
10. Lastly, note to self: Must start remembering that boy's underwear is NOT called panties OR knickers.
What would you add to the list?