Before I had kids, I firmly believed there was no difference between little boys and little girls. (I’ll pause here so all of you mamas can have a good laugh.) Right. So, then I had a baby boy and, 21 months later, I had another one.
And, other than the penchant for baby boys to let loose a fountain of pee at almost every diaper change, I didn’t see much difference between my baby boys and my friends’ baby girls. That lasted until about age 2½ when I realized how many things no one had ever told me about having little boys. I mean, really. I had heard that they were loud (and they are) and that they like trucks and cars and things that go vroom (and they do), but I thought that was it. I really did. Here I am, with a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, and what I know — now – about little boys could fill a book.
Why did no one ever tell me these things before?
1. You will feel like a bruised piece of fruit.
The most startling thing I didn’t know about having little boys is their sheer physicality. They’re not only stronger than I imagined they could be at this age, but they are also in constant motion. I have been both a jungle gym and a trampoline since my oldest was able to sit up on his own and fling himself at me. The ability of these little boys to turn even a simple hug into a death match has transformed me into a black-and-blue version of my former self. When I ask them why they’re climbing on me, or squeezing me so tight, or trying to hang off my leg while I attempt to cross the room, they tell me, “Because I love you!” and “You’re so snuggly!” Okay, then.
2. You won’t believe how much pee there is.
Let’s go back to the fountain of pee that is a baby boy’s claim to fame. Someday, someone will unearth an unpublished Dr. Seuss manuscript called How Much Pee Could There Be? and the answer is a lot more than you think. Like, you can’t even comprehend how one tiny bladder could produce that much urine. And why did no one tell me that my bathroom would never, ever, not smell like a subway station, ever? And it’s not confined to the toilet, or even around the toilet. It’s everywhere. How do you get urine on the opposite wall of the bathroom?! Never mind, I don’t want to know.
3.You don’t know what gross is until you have a little boy.
Boys see beauty in the simplest, and most disgusting, things. A smashed worm on the driveway looks like a shiny flower. A dead squirrel in the road looks like a sleeping puppy. Boogers — yes, boogers — are valued not only for their quantity and size, but also for their variety of color. Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but in the world my little boys inhabit, cleanliness is next to impossible. No one told me that I would say, emphatically, “Wash your hands with soap!” more times per day than I say “I love you.” (And I say “I love you” with abundant frequency.)
4. You find yourself talking about things you never imagined you’d care about.
Having a conversation with a little boy is a surreal experience because of their constant state of motion and their ability to ask an endless stream of questions at the same time. For instance, in a single conversation with my little boys earlier this week, we discussed why they can’t marry me; the difference between a penis and a scrotum; the fact that no, my penis did not “fall off”; the meaning of the term “corporate greed”; and the joys of a C-section. Rather than being deterred by that last topic, they were in awe. “Mama was cut in half and stapled back together,” I overheard my younger son telling his older brother. All the while, they were running loops around the kitchen table.
5. You will discover all the things you love most about your partner — and all the things that get on your nerves — amplified in your little boy.
No one told me how much my sons would look — and act — like their father. Or how wonderful and crazy-making that fact would be. Let’s put it this way: What annoys me most about my husband is now repeated, in triplicate. The ability to watch multiple screens (computer, iPad, phone, TV) at the same time? Check. The inability to tell the difference between a moderate volume for TV and stereo vs. an insanely loud, I-can’t-hear-myself-think volume? Check. Snoring? Check. An obsession with anything that has moving parts? Check. The sheer amount of testosterone in my house right now is enough to send me running screaming into the street (or off to a much-needed girls’ night). The truly scary part? It’s only going to get worse when my little boys go through puberty!
6. Most of the time, you’ll be having so much fun you won’t care about any of the the gross, annoying stuff.
It’s easy to get frustrated that I have to wipe down the doorknob — again — because it’s sticky or clean the toilet — again — because someone’s aim is still off. But I do it with a sigh, use it as a teaching moment, and remind myself that I wouldn’t change it for the world. The truth is, these wild, energetic, dirty little boys bring a lot of joy to my life and I get to experience the world through a new (if slightly smudged and sticky) lens. Once I get past the nose-picking and my constantly having to ask, “What is that smell?” I am reminded that little boys really are something special — and I’m so glad these two are mine.