I grew up in a household of girls. We were three sisters and a boy, and to be honest we looked down upon our brother as a slight oddity. We didn’t understand what planet he came from and didn’t need to — if he wanted to play with us he could just join in with our games and toys, which he did.
Fast forward thirty years and I have managed to produce a very different kind of family. I have four little boys and all the ensuing noise, fun and chaos that you’d imagine. It’s been quite a baptism of fire but I’m really starting to enjoy it, and I’m learning so much.
So to launch my blog All about the Boys, I thought I’d share a few things my boys have taught me.
Boys are physical. Yes it’s an obvious one but I hadn’t appreciated how much energy and movement they have in them on a pretty much permanent basis. Moments after waking, my boys will be jumping and rolling on each other and it continues that way until bedtime (incidently the craziest part of the day— getting them into their beds is like an Olympic sport). At weekends if they’re not out of the house by 10am they’re climbing the walls. And they can’t sit still — dinner times are noisy, messy affairs with me yelling ‘sit your bottom down!’ on repeat to an audience of none.
Boys like noise. Our house is so loud I literally can’t hear myself think. Not great for someone who loves peace and quiet (I am forty after all) so I’ll often have to pop outdoors or to the bathroom for a quick breather before resurfacing with renewed energy and a smile.
They’re not great in the bathroom. My downstairs loo looks and smells like a public toilet and that’s only with two out of my four boys using the loo (one’s on the potty, the other in nappies). Really, is it that difficult to aim the wee into the bowl? My boys like standing at the toilet without using their hands, minds wandering until the whole area needs a good wipe down.
They’re fascinated by bodily functions. If you want to impress my boys, just include the words ‘poo’ and ‘bottom’ in a few sentences and they’ll be instantly on your side. Most of their private conversations I overhear involve poo, which for some inexpicable reason has endless comedy value. If they catch me smiling at their conversations (which to be honest are ridiculous enough to be funny), their enthusiasm for the subject matter soars. I’ve also noticed how this topic acts as a bonding device between boys as they share this common frame of reference.
Clothes are overrated. While many of my friends’ daughters refuse to leave the house unless they’ve dressed themselves in their own unique style, complete with accessories, my boys really couldn’t care less what they wear. They’d be perfectly happy wearing their pyjamas all day, or wearing no clothes at all. To get them to don pants and socks is a task I’m only prepped for after a strong morning cuppa. And coordinated outfits really aren’t on their agenda. Clothes are entirely functional thanks very much.
They love the great outdoors. Outside in the fresh air my boys are free and full of joy, fun and laughter. Whether it’s collecting sticks, filling their pockets with stones or jumping in puddles, my boys are in their element when they’re in the elements. And they like bringing the outdoors inside too — I’m forever being shown slugs and other poor crawlies while I’m cooking tea, and finding pebbles in the tumble dryer.
They live in the present. While my friends with girls often lament how emotionally draining it is raising girls, my boys’ thought processes seem so much more simple and easier to navigate. If they’ve fallen out and are fighting each other one minute they’ll be bundling and hugging each other the next. The biggest emotional upsets can be forgotten quickly. And this healthy outlook is teaching me to live more in the moment and take life a bit less seriously.
They aren’t tougher. Behind the rough and boisterous exteriors are gentle souls. They may not be able to express their emotions as easily as many girls can, but it doesn’t mean my boys are any less emotional, feel less deeply or are less easily hurt. In fact I probably worry about them more than I should because they do struggle more to process emotions and to voice what they are feeling. They are fiercely loyal to their friends and family, and are vulnerable for it.
They love deeply. My boys are sensitive, caring and loving. I’ve never been surrounded with more love, and their cuddles mean the absolute world to me. My eldest two present me with drawings, love notes and lego presents they’ve made me nearly every day, and my three year old reaffirms that we’re ‘best friends’ every morning. They say that boys have a special bond with their Mums and I certainly feel that bond every day.
Boys aren’t all the same. My boys have entirely different personalities (as have girls!). One is a science-loving, coding obsessed book worm; one is creative and enjoys construction; one loves his sport and is at his happiest with a ball, and my youngest is eleven months and loves bathtime and dinner — his personality just starting to shine through. Their minds and hearts are wired differently and they can’t be pigeon holed into a list. Boys are more emotionally complex than society gives them credit for and they certainly don’t deserve the generalised comments I hear such as ‘boys are much harder than girls’.
I’m sure there will be so much more for me to learn about my sons over the years ahead (I dare not even contemplate the teen years). However for now, in this moment, I’m relishing every minute of fun, craziness and laughter that comes with having four little boys and I really wouldn’t change a thing.