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Little Boys 101

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I have four kids — three girls and one lonely little boy. Coincidentally, I grew up in a house with three sisters and one lonely little brother. What these two things basically mean is that I have a very limited knowledge and understanding of little boys. As an older sister, I basically let my brother exist in his Inspector Gadget world while I existed far far away in my Young and the Restless one. I can’t do that with my son if I want him to, you know, not sniff paint, beg for food or abuse small helpless animals someday. It’s kinda my job as his MOM to be an active member in the Inspector Gadget world… or Chowder and Flapjack, as it were.

I don’t always relate to my own kind. In fact, I’m confounded by the behavior of the members of my gender, myself included, on a regular basis. But some things generally remain the same. For example, we don’t get thrills out of finding an innocent-looking woman and throwing her purse into the Men’s Bathroom and then lifting her by the scruff of her neck and tossing her in there to go retrieve it. Not even in the second grade do I remember that kind of bizarre torture occurring. If we didn’t like a particular girl, we usually addressed the issue by not inviting her to our slumber party. And yet this bathroom thing occurred to my son just this past week, except that it was a backpack instead of a purse. Sure, he was upset for a day, but he did what most GIRLS I know could never do… he dusted himself off and immediately got over it. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t involved, and I’M still not over it. But when I demanded that we talk to the supervising adults, he stoically insisted that it wasn’t necessary. He could handle it, he said, while lying on my couch with his foot propped up on a pillow, his swollen ankle being iced.

“Boys will be boys,” a co-worker of mine says. “Parental involvement makes it worse with boys. You’re gonna label him a wuss for life. Let him handle it. Those boys that threw him in the bathroom are probably his friends. They were PLAYING AROUND. That’s how we do it. We throw each other into the Girl’s Bathroom to get a good look around.”

I don’t want to encourage my kid to fight. But I want him to be able to defend himself so, call me reactionary, but I’ve enrolled him in taekwondo. In the meantime, we invited his best-good friend-Andres-from-way-back to come over. Jonah showed off his mad cooking skillz by frying an egg for Andres. Andres showed him an easier way using the microwave. They had farting and burping contests. They wrestled. They took turns trying to break their necks by flailing themselves down my stairs. When I took them to rent a movie, they walked the aisles and squealed “EWWWW!!” in unison every time they passed a DVD cover with a scantily-clad woman on the cover. Or kissing. Heaven forbid they saw any kissing.

I still haven’t memorized the User’s Manual for little boys. I disagree with three-quarters of what’s in there. But this much I do know… grossing out over sex on a DVD cover will be one of the first things to change.

As mothers, do you find raising little boys more challenging than little girls?

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  • comment avatar Jess February 26, 2009

    I’m not yet anywhere near the backpack stage, nevertheless the girl’s bathroom stage, but I have noticed that my 19 month old boy is no where near what I expected out of a baby. He’s raucous, he’s a dare devil and he thinks it’s perfectly okay to hammer everything in site. While everyone says this is perfectly normal “for a boy”, I’m terrified of what will come when he’s old enough for the backpack and girl’s bathroom stage. But, then again, I am the mom that freaks out when her kid runs on grass.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 26, 2009

    It’s interesting because the differences between my son and daughter are more to do with their personalities than their gender. Sure, they like gender-specific things i.e. boy likes trucks, girl likes dolls but personality-wise, my daughter is sooooo much more difficult. She’s a spitfire and is super independent. My son is a lot more easy-going and loving. Thus far in the game? My daughter has been FAR more difficult!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 26, 2009

    LOL re: your gross out over sex on the DVD cover. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Alison February 26, 2009

    Yesterday in a waiting room for an office that does not normally cater to kids, a mom came in with a 10 y/o boy. They sat down and picked up magazines to read, which uncovered a magazine with the word “sex” in an article title. Said boy was aghast and made his mom turn the magazine over. lol.

    I have a 20 month old boy. He does enjoy banging things, but we just remove toys gently from his presence that get banged (or tossed). He likes to keep his toys, so he’s been doing this less…and when he does it is often with a “are you gonna catch me grin.” Right now he loves cars and mice more than anything in the world and he has a super sense of humor.

    We’ll see how it pans out, but frankly I look forward to raising a little boy!

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver February 26, 2009

    Ditto what Amber says. At least for now, it’s the personalities that determine the, um, energy required in parenting my daughter and son.

    I’m really glad I have my husband to clue me in to some of the challenges you mention about boys. Because left to my own devices, I would do things polar opposite and inadvertently create a SuperWuss.

  • comment avatar Catherine February 26, 2009

    I agree that the personality is the main factor in determining the degree of difficulty in parenting. I guess I just get confused in how to HANDLE situations based on gender. Maybe the bottom line is that I SHOULDN’T handle it differently and Wuss Status be damned.

    Oh, Jess and Alison… all I can say is good luck. I’m sure you both will do beautifully. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Heather Czerniak February 27, 2009

    Boys behave aggressively because they’ve been led to believe that’s what’s expected of them. I had the same problem with my own son for awhile. Much of his aggressive behavior stems from the stress of having to accept certain realities of being male, not because of maleness itself. My daughter cringed at the possibility of not being attractive enough until I told her to simply avoid people who hold such unrealistic standards.

    The same goes for my son. I told him that he is still a good person even if he’s not as big and tough as the other boys at school. that doesn’t mean he can’t be the aeronautics engineer he wants to be when he grows up.

    It also helps to point out that those with impossibly high standers usually wash out earlier in life because eventually everyone else gets sick of their holier-than-thou mentalities. So start your child off with a more realistic perspective. They’ll understand it, and they’ll appreciate what you’ve instilled in them.

    And give those boys a hug. Boys need hugs too!

  • comment avatar Mark July 19, 2009


    I have a pretty complex question that probably will not have a canned answer if read correctly. I am a divorced father. My exwife and I share custody on a 50/50 basis. One week on and one week off.
    My 5 yr old son at times seem to prefer mom when it comes to my week of custody. Once he is with me it is okay but, the transfer from me to her seems to b much easier for him than when he is leaving his moms to come to me.
    I am concerned that his mom (being an attorney) may be manipulating him in such a way that he does not realize it. Making him want or feel like he needs to stay with her. I have asked very gently if he wanted to stay with his mom more than me but, heck a 5 yr old does not want to hurt either of our feelings. I am very conscious not to get into this on too deep of a level as I do not want him carrying the responsibility of having to care for my or both of our feelings any more than he probably already does.
    I know little boys prefer mom, that is obvious but, it seems strange sometimes to me that we do so much cool stuff around the house and camping and such that he clings to mom so closely.
    It is hard to explain but, something seems that it is a little over the top. Also, I am an easy to please Dad, others say that i am very patient and take his needs into consideration around the structure that i feel will make him grow up to be a great man and Christian. I am a Christian and not a religous freak. Rules and mediocraty are far from me. I do not yell or scar my child. i am concentrating and purposeful in the raising of my son and secretly wish i had him always but, i seriously realize how important mom is also. I just do not want him to be screwed up by his mom if she is mistreating him psychologically. This is purely innocent and i have no vindetta or cruel words to say about her other than she left for another man after we had a financial strain when my company had someone steal a large sum of money. The vows mean nothing to most these days.
    Please help if you have time. I am considering speaking to a professional about this very soon, but, wanted your side. Thank You in advance for your consideration. Divorce sucks! I wish there was a more articulate way to say it?

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