I always assumed I'd have girls. There wasn't a boy born into our family in two generations so when my 13 week old fetus flopped his little legs open to reveal a penis, I insisted the ultrasound machine was on the fritz - adding penises willy nilly.... oh dear, what did I know about mothering boys?
Having the whole pregnancy to come to terms with the first born boy in our family in living memory I also came to terms with getting no useful advice from parents, aunts or nannas on how to raise boys. I had to go it alone. Here's what I unexpectedly learned growing my boy. Who knows, if my Jack had been Jacqueline, things might be different or exactly the same – who knows.
My boy isn’t fearless. Some little boys jump from roofs, ride skateboards off cliffs and run blindly into oncoming traffic. Some little girls too. They’re fearless. My boy is brave. He rises to the occasion and surprises me time and time again, whether it’s trying new foods, striding into an intimidating situation alone or getting his shots – he feels the fear and does it anyway. Mums, I urge you to know the difference. If you have a fearless kid, it’s often necessary to curb their enthusiasm - but you should never do that to a brave kid. Most boys are both and sometimes, it’s very hard to tell the difference!
You know that notion of early parenting you’re clinging to, where your baby loves you and wants you day and night. Nope. At some point, your mummy’s boy will become a daddy’s boy and all the rejection daddy was feeling suddenly becomes more real. One day, he’ll become grandpa’s boy. You and daddy can drown your sorrows in wine while grandpa takes his turn at constructing toilets out of play dough. There is a single minded concentration in my boy, where he likes to do just one thing with just one person for any period of time, to the exclusion of all others. My tip, it’s hard to take the rejection at first, but it will give you time to rekindle your old friendships, with wine, shopping, videogames – whatever it is you did BC.
Besides being pooped on (everyone will warn you about this) mothering boys is about embracing poo as an impassioned interest. No matter how many OCD brand anti-bac wipes are in your purse, no matter how strongly you smell of eau de sanitary gel, if your son is like mine, you’ll become completely nonplussed by poop.
My son has a rare and unique gift for turning any handy item into a "dirty sewer pipe" (sandwich wrap roll innards, drinking straws, curled up seatbelt ends….all twisted and turned into sewer pipes. But the fun doesn’t stop there, he’ll fashion bits of poo out of balls of paper, play dough, dirt, Milo – whatever, in order to clog the sewer pipe – and then unclog it – hour after hour of fun. If you ask my boy what his travel highlights to date have been, you’ll hear a blow by disgusting blow tale of squat toilets, use of, functionality and paper disposal practice. Waving his butt over a putrid hole in the ground topped the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Terracotta Warriors hands down. I am fluent in the language of poo talk now. Ask me about sewers, I know my stuff.
I was frightened at first that I wouldn’t know how to mother a little boy, but as someone who’d rather stay home with a book than frock up pretty, mothering a boy has worked out just fine for me. And of course, not all little boys are the same, and there are plenty of little girls who like to talk toilets – this is just one mum’s experience mothering boys. I encourage it, you’ll surprise yourself!