About Boys

Warning: Long post ahead.  Go grab a cup of coffee, maybe a snack.  You might want to get a Gatorade to replenish electrolytes.

If you regularly read this blog, you have likely discerned by now that I’m a female.

If you haven’t figured that out yet, then I question whether it was your cat or dog that helped you to get online to read this.

I’m starting out with the mean today.  Forgive me.  Or don’t.  I don’t really care.

Anyway, as a girl who grew up with four sisters, a mother and a father who likely sprouted a uterus the minute his last daughter was born, I know lots of things about girls.  It’s part of the reason I have so few friends.  Girls can really be kind of annoying.  Girls like to eat pretty food and post pictures of it, their cats and coffee mugs on Facebook.  Guess what?  That picture you posted of your “super-cute” coffee mug just sucked up a pixel of my brain’s available memory.  I will never be able to erase it and free up that pixel for other more worthy images. Thanks a lot.

If I ever post a picture of a mug that isn’t in some way ironic or a picture of a plate of food that doesn’t have an actual severed human thumb in it, you have permission to punch me.

While I do not do those annoying Facebook things, I’m annoying in a host of other ways.

Anyway, adopting two boys and being married to a boy, I was a little surprised to learn how genetically different boys are from girls.

I’ve been compiling a list of some basic boy truths that will help you navigate the raising of your boys.  If you have only girls, perhaps this list will give you some insight into why the moms of boys are always drunk.

You really need to print this out and save it for future reference.  You might consider framing it and giving it to all of your pregnant friends.  It’s so full of boy-parenting genius that I should write a book about parenting boys and get a Nobel Prize in Literature.  Maybe even a Nobel Peace Prize.  (They’re different things, right?)

Ready?  Here we go.

1.  Boys smell.  All. The. Time.  Sometimes they smell like outside.  Sometimes they smell like sweat.  Sometimes they smell like rancid feta cheese mixed with wet, mangy dog.  Sometimes when I’m doing the laundry, I will empty The Good One’s hamper to try to locate what smells like a month-old ham sandwich or maybe a dead rodent.  I never find anything.  The point is, boys always smell.  And it’s never like cherry blossoms and unicorn farts.  Usually it’s actual farts.   This leads to point number 2.

2.  Boys fart.  A lot.  And they find it hysterical.  They may say “excuse me” after they do it because you’ve beat into them that they need to have manners, but in reality they think the fact that they can expel air out of their butts is a riot.

3.  Boys will say the word “fart” and it will be their favorite word.  “Fart” is to boys as “shopping” is to girls.  Growing up in a family with 6 women and a father who sacrificed his Y chromosome at the altar of Tampaxia, The Goddess of Estrogen, we were never allowed to say “fart.”  We would say, “Did you gas?” or “Who tooted?”  These genteel phrases were Estrogen-approved.

However, the minute there is a boy child in the house, the word “fart” will become commonplace.

One of my sisters, Terri, originally had only daughters.  Then about 2 years ago she had a son.  Before her son really started talking, we were visiting and The Beast said “fart.”  Terri said in shock, “Do you let him say that word?”  And I said, “Honey, you have a son now.  I guarantee you that that word will be spoken in your house.  You can try to fight it, but even if you make that a no-no word, the minute you walk out of the room, your son will start saying ‘fart’ as if it’s the only word in his vocabulary.”

My advice here is to desensitize yourself to the word “fart.”  Otherwise, wear earplugs.  Maybe have your cochlea removed.

4.  To a boy, if a toy has wheels and can be sat upon, it is a bumper car.  If we’re in the driveway (or the kitchen, for that matter) and The Beast sits on his tricycle and I sit on the plasma car, It. Is. On.  You might say I’m encouraging the behavior by taking part in it, but I’ve watched The Beast play bumper cars since he was 8 months old.  Boys obviously have a genetic need to bang into things when they’re on wheels.  To me, telling a boy that it is wrong to play bumper cars would be akin to telling a girl that it is wrong to play with Barbie as if she were a fashion model and that instead Barbie should be played with as if she were a ninja assassin.  So my advice to you, should you not want to play bumper cars, is don’t sit on anything with wheels.

5.  If it’s round, it’s a ball.  It will be thrown.  This includes rocks, globes and roundish clumps of dog poop.  You get the picture.

6.  If it looks like a bat, it is a bat.  It will be swung.   You would do well to stay out of the bat’s way.

7.  If it looks like a gun, it is a gun.  This applies to sticks, branches, empty paper towel rolls, action figures, and . . . well, anything can be a gun.  You can choose not to purchase toy guns for your son, and I completely understand why many parents do this.  However, don’t assume that just because you’re not purchasing toy guns means he’s not playing with guns.  He’s got an imagination: He’s playing with guns.  You can tell him not to shoot at people, of course, but that crayon you just handed him?  A gun.  A wooden spoon?  A gun.  The dog dish?  A gun.

Or maybe my kids are just violent.  I don’t know.

8.  The having of a penis and the ability to change an empty toilet paper roll are mutually exclusive.  Fortunately, this genetic defect can be overcome with extensive behavior modification therapy. photoMy boys are obviously still in therapy.

9.  If they climb it, they will jump off of it.  This includes, but is not limited to, furniture, counter tops, tables, trampolines, play forts, swings, appliances, shelves, bathtubs and ladders.

10.  They have one speed.  It’s called running.  Walking is a skill they learn later in life after being screamed at repeatedly.  They especially like to run near moving vehicles.  Often AT moving vehicles.  They are dog-like in that way.  Lectures on becoming “Flat-[insert name here]” are helpful in this area.

11.  They eat dinner on the edge of their seats as if they are running late for a very important meeting.   You can tell them to sit properly on the chair, but within seconds they will again have approximately 1 square inch of ass cheek in contact with the chair.  My advice here is to save your breath.  After they fall out of the chair enough times, this behavior will correct itself.

12.  Dirt is a boy’s idea of heaven.  (Until he reaches puberty and then his idea of heaven will be boobs.)  Have you ever watched your son when he first catches a glimpse of a pile of dirt?  And then have you ever watched your son as you tell him he’s not allowed to play in the dirt?  His countenance will turn from one of excitement and euphoria to one of despair and confusion.  You will see in his eyes an internal battle begin to rage as he tries to resist temptation and obey your orders.  This will require him to overcome the desire to do what every cell in his body and synapse in his brain is telling him to do: play in the dirt.  It’s almost cruel to expect him to be around dirt and not let him play in it.

Is it convenient to have to bathe your son (or hose him off) so frequently?  No.  Wouldn’t it be nice if boys hated to be dirty like most girls do?  Yes, it would.  But if you let your son play in that dirt, he will be occupied for hours and will be utterly and completely happy.

If your son is reaching puberty, reread the above paragraphs and replace the word “dirt” with “boobs” and you’ll be getting the same sage advice.  (Actually, I just did that and the resulting advice is kind of skeevy.  “If you let your son play in the boobs, he will be occupied for hours and will be utterly and completely happy.”  While that’s true, it’s not really the best parenting advice.)

13.  To a boy, the only thing better than dirt is mud.  If your son is an adolescent, you know what “mud” is and I suggest a lecture on STDs complete with graphic photos.

14.  If you build it, they will knock it down.  You can choose to get angry about their destructive nature, or you can roll with it and make it part of the game.  However, choosing to get angry really doesn’t do you any good because they are going to keep knocking your crap down whether you like it or not.  My suggestion here is never to build anything of value near your son.

15.  They are happiest when they are teetering ever so slightly on the brink of disaster.  You can put them in bubble wrap and force them to stay firmly planted on the ground at all times, but they won’t be happy.  The Beast loves nothing more than to climb the rock wall to the top of our 8-foot-high play set and then lean over the edge.  He loves to climb on top of our 6-foot privacy fence and dangle one leg on our side and one on our neighbor’s side.  Both boys love to sit on cardboard boxes and slide down our steps at Mach speed.

I’m not saying that you should permit your sons to do whatever dangerous thing they feel like doing, but you should know that those moments are the ones that make them the most happy.  My advice here is to invest in high-quality helmets.

And there you have it.  This list is far from exhaustive, but I’m over 2,000 words and even I can’t stand myself enough to read that much of my rambling.

But I do have one last thought:  I think boys today get a bad rap.  Sometimes even by me.

Society’s idea of proper childhood behavior seems to be geared towards girls, and I think that’s because girls resemble adults more closely than boys do.  Girls are generally more calm and composed and not nearly as dirty and physical and loud as boys.  However, I don’t think that that means that the way girls play and behave is necessarily better or more right that the way boys play and behave.

If a boy and a girl are playing in a room and the girl is quietly having a tea party with her dollies while the boy is crashing his cars into his blocks or banging his army men into each other in a mock war, we say, “Oh, she plays so nicely.”  What that really means, to me, is “Oh, she plays like a calm little adult.”

We naturally appreciate that behavior because it’s peaceful and it’s how we as adults behave.  But that boy who is sitting on the floor crashing things into other things and making explosion sounds really is playing just as nicely as the girl.  We just don’t appreciate it as much.

And when a little boy and a little girl are playing together, and the little boy starts banging his toys together and making a ton of noise and the little girl starts to get upset, we usually make the little boy play differently (or at least I have always done that), and really, I don’t think that’s right.  Honestly, I think it makes more sense to have boys and girls play separately than to ask one of them to behave in a way that is completely against their nature.

Why do we (I) never ask the little girl to accept that when playing with a boy, there will be dirt and noise and a big, giant mess?  I obviously want my boys to grow up to be chivalrous gentlemen, but I also want to balance that with the understanding that boys will be boys.

My point here isn’t to offend you if you have daughters.  I pray that they are sweet and peaceful and smell of sunshine and unicorn farts.

But I hope that you’ll understand why I let my boys be gross, smelly, dirty, loud boys.

It’s part of who they are and I really wouldn’t want it any other way.

Now, go Ctrl-P this sucker and start giving it away.

As always, you are welcome.

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22 thoughts on “About Boys

  1. Got three of ’em. Know exactly what you mean. I have, however, drawn the line at being called a**head by my six year old.

  2. OMG. Did you write this specifically about my son? I LOVE this post…. not only because it is, of course hilarious, but because it is is so accurate! And I love how you pointed out that boys and girls play DIFFERENTLY….. because no doubt about it, they DO and we should embrace that! If I could add a #16….. it would have something to do with how LOUD they are. Everything they do and say is several decibels higher than girls/adults.

  3. As a compulsive neat-freak who adopted 3 BOYS (yes, insanely, all at the same time), I have learned that not only are THEY happiest playing or in the dirt – I am happier when they are outside playing in the dirt and using sticks as swords and guns. We call the dare-devil behavior and falling off chairs “self-correcting errors”

    PS… I LOVE your blog. Yours was the first blog I read after walking through the looking glass into parenthood that made me not feel alone in my universe. Your blog about wanting to SKILLET your children probably saved the lives of mine….

  4. Ha! Reason number 23984u23984y2 I can’t have kids – WHAT IF I GET A BOY?!?!?

    No but seriously. I’m not sure how much of the gender differences in play are innate, and how much is learned. Babies are some kind of geniuses, and start picking up cues immediately. So when we start treating them differently from the womb (“Oh, I felt him kick! He’s going to love sports!” versus “Oh what a darling little princess!”), I think it quickly shapes their desires. I mean, parents play “rougher” with boy babies and are gentler with their “delicate” girls – which is silly, because until a certain age, girl babies are actually stronger and more resilient.

    So it’s not that I think little girls are playing quietly with barbies because they’re trying to please society, but they’ve internalized the expectation that they are clean/quiet/nice little girls. And boys get to be a little bit freer, because that’s expected (boys will be boys). I’m just saying, I bet if we put a boy and girl in the forest to grow up with wolves, they both start laughing at farts.

    • I don’t know. I truly believe that there are real, genetic traits that are coded into the Y chromosome. There is just so much crap that my kids do that can be explained by nothing other than their genetic make-up.

      And I agree that girls aren’t playing quietly to please society. I’m saying that society is just more accepting of their behavior and we deem it to be more normal because it more closely resembles the “civil” society of adulthood. And girls may internalize the expectation that they will be clean, quiet, etc., but I think that actually proves my point that there are just plain genetic differences between boys and girls. Because if girls are behaving a certain way because they are internalizing the expectations of adults, then boys are genetically predisposed to not giving a rat’s ass about society’s expectations because my kids and the male children of my friends are not physically capable of resisting the temptation to be loud, dangerous and, at times, gross. So maybe it’s not a genetic predisposition to being loud and dirty but rather a genetic predisposition to not giving two rips about what adults expect of them.

      I have an idea that will help us solve this dilemma. I propose that you get pregnant with fraternal twins, one boy, one girl. Provide the exact same toys to them and treat them identically. See if you notice any predispositions that fall along gender lines. You should really talk to Boyfriend about this experiment. Explain it’s for science. I’m sure he’ll go along. I would do the experiment but I’m nearly 41 and infertile. Thank God.

      Lastly, I agree. If a boy and girl were raised by wolves they would both find farts to be funny, because, really, don’t we all?

  5. As a former boy, I can vouch for pretty much all of this. And farts will remain funny right up until… Well, I’ll let you know when they stop being funny.

  6. I am a Mom to 2 boys and embrace everything I read. I will celebrate all of the dirt but cannot get my arms around the body function stuff. And I having not gone down the gun road have watched 2 boys make gift wrap tubes to a ping pong paddle a gun. It is in them… but so is an unbending love for their mom. I will take the package deal. Thanks

  7. I found this post very funny, as usual, and I’m sure that my SIL, who has four boys and is married to my brother, will be sainted one day. my only hesitation is that I have two girls and one boy, and my girls (at this point 8 and 6) find farts hilarious and dirt irresistable. I just don’t have girlie girls, although one of them really does prefer sitting quietly and reading (at times — she’s my favorite! j/k kinda), while the other girl bounces off of things. And the boy at this point is 2 and a half, so we’ll see how different he is. 🙂 So while I see your point about observing that girls and boys are different, it really does depend on the girls and boys in question!

    • I agree. It absolutely does depend on the boys and girls in question. In fact in my own family, there were varying degrees of girlie-ness among my sisters and I. I loved dirt and my idea of fun was throwing earth worms at my older sister because she was on the opposite end of the girlie spectrum and I loved making her scream. And I really didn’t mean to suggest that all girls are genetically predisposed to loving Barbies and hating dirt. My goal was just to show that there are some behaviors that my boys, and many boys, exhibit that are so dominant and so prominent that any attempts to control/squelch those behaviors are utterly futile. There very well may be items on that list that apply to both boys and girls. One question, though: Do your girls stink or is that just boys?

      • Hm. My middle daughter does sometimes get a funky smell to her. I’m hoping with bathing it’ll clear up. I imagine that as they get older, the girls will value hygiene and smelling nice more than the boy in general. We shall see!

  8. The chair thing! And here I thought it was just my 11 year old son. He has fallen off the chair more than once, much to the gleeful delight of his 3 year old sister. It’s pure slapstick comedy to that one.

  9. I have 3 boys, 2 stepsons a male dog and a husband. I am outnumbered by a ratio of 7 to 1. I have told people that when I get my own bathroom there will be a sign that says “no penises allowed” and that the seat will be permanently glued down. This post was spot on! The only thing that I would change with all of this playing would be the number of trips to the ER. (One son broke 3 bones before 3 years old.)

  10. This is a late response, but I just had to comment.

    Love everything about this post, but the one about boys not sitting fully on their chair had me laughing like a lunatic. My son will go so far as to not even pull the chair out from the table. He kind of tilts it out “cock-eyed” to the table so there’s just enough room for the corner of one buttcheek. In restaurants, I have to repeatedly tell him to sit down. He’s not a bad kid and he’s not causing trouble, but he just pretty much wants to stand and eat his meal.

    Also, we live in an apartment and, therefore, we don’t really have a yard. We do, however, have dirt in between the plants along the sidewalk. That’s his favorite place to play, in the dirt!!

    So glad it’s not just mine!!!

  11. I would add wrestling. They always have to be touching, hitting, or wrestling each other. i have two and they do everything you said but the one thing that drives me most nuts is that they are constantly wrestling!

  12. I don’t have kids yet but let me just say that the whole fart thing never goes away. Or maybe it’s just my husband and his family. I grew up basically an only child (I have a half-brother who never lived with me), so all the guy things were new to me when we started living together/got married. But I’ve heard him, his brothers, his cousins, his nephews, his friends, and even his uncles outright say (and prove amongst themselves) that “a fart will always be funny”. It might as well be their life motto.

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