The boys vs girls discussion could go on ad nauseam. Is one gender better/easier/more angst-filled? Is one smarter/faster/more grey-hair-inducing? I don’t know that much about raising girls, other than what I experienced growing up with two sisters. Raising boys, though, I’ve had some practice. What I have learned about parenting the different genders through practice and observation is that when young, boys and girls are very very different animals. Here’s what I’ve noticed about boys:
Sticks. If we kept every stick my boys have found, we would be able to build ourselves a new (if slightly rickety) home. Boys. Love. Sticks. Long sticks, prickly sticks, fat sticks, smooth sticks. I feel a Dr Seuss rhyme coming on. And they become beloved so quickly, it’s amazing; what looks like to me like a normal, run-of-the-mill stick is to them something so special that we MUST haul it home and keep it in the playroom. We have a "no stick" rule for the car, so sticks found out and about have to be enjoyed as throughly as possible before we get back in the car to head home. Sticks found while on foot, though, as fair game, and are frequently brought back to the house and become part of the already-staggering arsenal. What's funny: when unpacking at our new post, we realized that the packers had packed up a number of sticks from the playroom area of our last house, unbeknownst to us. The boys could not have been more thrilled.
Everything is a gun. Toast. Toilet paper rolls. Toy cars. Even lego constructions can all be guns. Pipe cleaners. Beaded necklaces. Even a flower picked from a bush can 'masquerade' as a gun. What’s shocking to me that even my 2 year old nephew is pretending to ‘boom boom boom’ things. I’ve given my ‘why we shouldn’t pretend to shoot everything’ and 'look at the awful things gun can do' speeches so many times; each time The words fall on deaf ears. Little boys pretend to shoot things. That’s just the way it goes. I have since accepted that it is more important for me to focus on what little (and big) boys should shoot with guns, and pointing out poor gun behavior (of which, sadly, the news has ample supply of examples).
Noise. Volume. Boys are loud. They make a lot of noise, all of the time. Noise is constantly emanating from one part of their body or another. They talk a lot. They yell, scream, and make car sounds. They even make noises while building blocks. Everything requires a sound effect. Eating can be a chore because it requires the mouth to do something other than talk; and talking while chewing gets a reprimand. I honestly used to think that my husband was the loudest person I had ever met until I met my first-born son. He is by far the loudest person I know. And, much to my chagrin, his two younger boys do their best to follow his less-than-quiet example. In fact, it is important to note: silence is not your friend, dear parent. When all is quiet, you better go investigate because something you will likely not approve of is underway.
Faster is better. Why walk when you can run? Biking needs to be at top speed, regardless of working knowledge of brakes. Same goes for scootering, sliding, anything play-related. Cars should only go fast. Even bouncing balls should be done at full speed. Everything involving movement needs to happen fast. Fast is good. Fats and loud? Even better
Climbing. Boys climb. All three of my boys are monkey-like when it comes to getting their little bodies up any surface that has branches, finger holes, or the like. At our last house, there was a tree right beside our kitchen window, and I can’t even think how many times I looked out and spotted them up well above the first floor window, swaying in the breeze. The current house has a mango tree that was planted 10 years ago just for these three boys to move in. This tree has the perfect ratio of climbing branches to swimming branches to resting branches. It is lush enough to provide excellent hide-and-seek cover and sturdy enough to allow for lounging with a book. The limbs, when trimmed, provide sturdy "swords" and bows. It is the perfect boy tree. Our family rule: If you can get yourself up on it, go ahead and climb. I don’t help or give boosts. My thinking is that if they can’t get up on it to begin with, then they obviously aren’t ready to climb whatever it is they are wanting to climb. My youngest spent many hours, neck craned backward, peeking up through branches and leaves at the other two, wanting so badly to be up there with them. Too quickly, there were three little monkeys swaying in the branches.
One can never have too many Legos. I know there are a lot of girls out there who love legos and can spend hours blissfully building creation after creation. This does seem to be more of a boy quality, though. My three can sit and build and chat for hours. This, right now, is their electronics, as we don't allow a lot of time with the true sort. Part brief search online netted them 20 pounds of Legos (a family gift from Santa Claus), which easily pushed our block collection into the 10s of 1,000s range. So. Many. Bricks. And so I have to marvel that they can blissfully build for hours one day, and the next fight like grouchy cats about rightful ownership of three bricks the next.
No gets to beat on little brother. Except, of course, bigger brother. These three will pound on each other like mortal enemies ... Until someone else wants to give it a try. Then, it's a united front, a brick wall of stubbornness and brotherly camaraderie. Woe to the person trying to get past that, including parents.
Ah, boyhood. Nothing quite like it. Being a parent of three boys has been a thoroughly educational and enjoyable experience. My hope for these boys is that they enjoy the little boyness they embrace wholeheartedly as much as they can before they, too, get overly-enamored with their electronics as we big people have.