Difficult? Yes. Awesome? Always.
When you have a girl, you know that you can always fall back on your own childhood memories to guide you as a mum.
But unless you grew up with a brother, there’s a good chance that parts of raising a boy can take you by surprise. From the sports obsession to the penis comparisons, here are 10 things I wish I’d known about bringing up boys.
1. There will be planes, trains and automobiles.
Even if you stock your nursery with mixed-gender toys like baby dolls and play kitchens, odds are matchbox cars and trucks will multiply on their own in your home, boats will line your bathtub and train track will loop around your floor. Little boys adore anything that flies, sails, drives, digs or mixes.
“I could have never anticipated the amount of fun he can have with just a few cars,” said mum of two Dana McCranie. “I love watching his little fingers wrapped around two cars and imagining what he sees as he drives them around with animation and sound effects.”
2. Boys don’t stop moving.
From the moment they come bouncing into your bed at 5:30 in the morning until they pass out at bedtime, boys go. Sometimes it seems like they have only two speeds — fast and faster. This means that your toddler could be sitting on the floor shaking a rattle one minute and when you turn your head, he will have summitted the dining room table. He may not ever slow down, but you’ll learn to pick up the pace.
“Give them goals,” said dad of three Randolph RoVino. “Give them the tools. Give them encouragement to use the energy that they have. And have your sneakers on!”
3. Clothes shopping will be a piece of cake.
A girl’s wardrobe can be sizable. But boys? Well, there are pants, sneakers and T-shirts. There are no outfits. Everything, essentially, goes together.
“There may be fewer options in the store, but I’ll happily dress a boy over a girl any day,” said mum of one Bonnie Vengrow. “The palette is simple, the clothes are cute, and he’ll let me dress him with no fuss.”
4. His fascination with his penis starts sooner than you think.
Chalk it up to the cave man instinct, but boys play with their penises practically from birth. (And those baby erections? Whoa.) Once he figures out it’s there, it’ll be everything you can do to keep his hands from drifting down there all the time.
“I remember other mums warning me when I had my first son, ‘Don't worry if he touches his thing all the time. It's normal,’” said mum of two Melissa Phipps. “I'm still not sure if my 8-year-old is in the normal range, but whenever he had a free moment, he whips it out. Ironically, the only time he doesn't have his hand on his penis is when he's using the toilet and should be holding it to aim correctly. That's when it can't be tamed.”
5. Roughhousing is innate.
Boys are physical. There's the jumping off furniture, the rolling on each other, the "hug" that turns into a full-body running tackle. It's often how they connect and express affection. “My sons constantly have to touch each other and be near each other,” said mum of two Stacy Genovese. “We recently finished our basement and it’s a huge playroom but yet they both have to play right on top of each other and then it’s the inevitable ‘He hit me!’, ‘No, he hit him first!’”
Exhausting? Yes. Normal and healthy? Absolutely. This kind of physical interaction can foster positive relationships, boost the body's feel-good chemicals and promote intelligence — even if it means stuff around the house is going to get broken.