I am the mother of two boys. TWO BOYS. This is, most of the time, almost incomprehensible to me. I know nothing about boys. Seriously. I was afraid of them most of my childhood, except for my first best friend who was a boy. He was awesome. Hi, Allan! I was crushed when Allan moved away. Crushed. I got over it and grew into a very socially awkward girl who always felt flustered around boys. Still do.
And here I am the mom to two of them.
I worry about this sometimes. I see the moms on my Facebook feed and they’re off to sports events all the time — baseball and soccer and football and hockey. I’m bored to tears with sports. If my boys get into sports, I’ll figure it out, I assume, right? Sigh.
Maybe I’ll have the kind of boys that tend towards things like nature or architecture or urban planning. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a son who geeked out on cities? Does that even exist — city geek kids? Surely it must.
I don’t know.
My fear of raising boys, honestly, comes from a place of stereotypes. Sports, superheroes, rough and tough wrestling. How does the poem go?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.
This little ditty was drilled into me during childhood. I don’t like snails or slugs and am allergic to puppies. But sugar and spice? Yes, those things I like, I understand. They’re ingredients, it’s simple, really. And ‘everything nice?’ Who doesn’t like nice? I love nice!
Stereotypes are never a good thing. They can be instructive, of course, but you can’t feed into them for your sole information source. And if I buy too much into the stereotypes of boys, well, I’m doomed. If I can vehemently disagree and understand that being a girl is not all about princess frou frou and pink and purple that the marketers try and tell us it is, logically, I have to embrace that being a boy is not all about superheroes and sports, either.
I do believe on some fundamental level that boys and girls are different. Not better or worse, stronger or weaker, than one another, just different. I may get reamed for this, but it’s science, you know? Testosterone and estrogen result in different features in us humans. I think we have hyped up those differences to the extremes with the way we, knowingly and unknowingly, genderize our kiddos, but they are still there.
Now this doesn’t mean that girls can’t be rough and tumble athletes and boys can’t be quiet and sensitive, but it does mean that, personally, as the mom to two boys, I think I am in for more of the rough and tumble than I have personally experienced in my own life to date. I’ll be honest — that will be a challenge for me. I am, you see, a dainty flower.
Today, driving home from school, I spied out of the corner of my eye my five year old son leaning over in the back seat. At the next light I looked back and saw my boy, hand cupped beneath his mouth, drinking his own spit. Happily and with pride. Last week, he came home from school covered in mud, head to toe. BAH! This, I think, is my future in a nutshell — mud and spit. Ha!
I am a lucky woman, indeed. But a lucky woman who needs to prepare herself for years of mud, spit, toots (see, I can’t even bring myself to say the F-A-R-T word — I hate that word), penis jokes, sweaty socks and the whole lot of it. Imma start now, cause if drinking spit out of your own damn hand is any indication, I have much to learn about raising boys.
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