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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Herding cats

The boys vs girls discussion could go on ad nauseam. I don’t know that much about raising girls, other than what I experienced growing up with two sisters. There did seem to be a lot of drama, though. Now, raising boys, I’ve had some practice. What I have learned about parenting, though, is that when young, they 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. Pointy 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. Try as I might to convince them that they should leave some sticks in their favorite places (‘Oh, I know; find a good hiding place, and then it will be here waiting when we come back!’),I haven’t really always managed to convince them.

Everything is a gun. Toast. Toilet paper rolls. Toy cars. Even lego constructions can all be guns. Pompoms glued together = gun. Paper airplanes folded just so = gun-toting machinery. Plastic utensils = guns. 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’ speech so many times; each time it falls on deaf ears. Little boys pretend to shoot things. That’s just the way it goes.

Noise. Volume. Boys are loud. L.O.U.D. 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. And if they aren’t making a sound effect, they have a running commentary on what they are doing with just enough ‘Mom, watch this!’ that you actually have to pay at least half an ear of attention. 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.

Faster is better. Why walk when you can run? Biking needs to be at top speed, regardless of knowing how to use the 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. It’s go go go, fast as you can. Yes, this means that when they slip and spill, it will be a big (loud) bloody mess. (So side note: always ALWAYS carry band-aids.)

Climbing. Boys climb. My three boys are monkey-like when it comes to getting their little bodies up any surface that has branches, finger holes, or the like. There is a tree right beside our kitchen window, and I can’t even think how many times I’ve looked out and spotted them up well above the first floor window, swaying in the breeze. Our family rule: If you can get yourself up on it, go ahead and climb. I don’t help and I don’t 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 of his younger years, neck craned backward, peeking up through branches and leaves at the other two, wanting to badly to be up there with them. All too quickly, I have three little monkeys swaying in the branches. In fact, for my youngest, his ‘happy place’ is in the mango tree out front. He hauls toys, books and snacks out with him, and precariously balanced there, he can while away hours.

Girls? They have their definite good points. A mom with one or more of each gets the joy of learning the intricacy that both ‘sides’ envelop. Me? I’ll still with my boy herd, and learn to live with the pandemonium that is boy-land. Thankfully, the pets we’ve adopted are all female so I’m not completely out-numbered. That sort of counts, doesn’t it?

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