I never really bought into the idea that boys are inherently rowdier or more active than girls. I always thought that this was just a lame way for parents of boys to excuse bad behavior or feel better about their parenting. (I know, write it down in the Big Book of Self-Righteous Things I Thought I Knew Before I Had Kids.)
Then, I had a son. A climbing, nonstop, Energizer-Bunny-of-a-son who was somehow born understanding on a biological level that balls are meant to be thrown, block towers are destined to be destroyed and baby gates are mere suggestions.
Now I understand things I didn’t before like how toddler-proofing a home for a girl means putting in some baby locks and some outlet protectors, but for a boy, it means something entirely different. So far, toddler-boy-proofing my house has meant removing all the barstools and occasionally the kitchen chairs so my son won’t push them to the counter, climb up and jettison all the groceries off the counter while I carry in the rest of the bags.
It also means not leaving toilet lids open so he won’t be tempted to stick towels in the water and then suck them dry. Yea. That happened. I swear I spend 90 percent of my day running toward my son yelling, “No! Wait — stop!”
I’m not saying all girls are calm, perfect angels or all boys are hooligans, but I am beginning to see that boys and girls see the world and their place in it in their own unique way. Understanding the difference has been quite the learning curve for me. I’m used to being able to tell my daughters that it’s “quiet time” or that something is “just for looking.” These phrases seem to have no translation into toddler boy speak.
I can say the exact same phrase to my son as I did to my daughters when they were younger, and he interprets my words completely differently.
Let’s take a look:
Girls hear: Go to Mommy’s purse and pull out the wipes and bring them to her. Just the wipes.
Boys think: The best way to accomplish this task is obviously to dump the entire bag onto the floor, fling the unnecessary items across the room, pull out 10 wipes to scatter across the floor, and then hand Mom the rest (if she plays her cards right). Note to self: This also seems like a good strategy when picking a book at bedtime. If every book is not on the floor, I’ve failed.
Girls hear: Let’s make some pretty crafts!
Boys think: How much glitter is it possible to cram into my mouth?
Girls hear: Let’s be soft with our friends.
Boys think: Wait until mom isn’t looking.
Girls hear: Chairs are for sitting.
Boys think: Nice try, Mom. If that’s your real name.
Girls hear: Let’s build a Lego tower for our stuffed animals.
Boys think: Must. Destroy.
Girls hear: It’s not appropriate to touch our private parts every minute of every single day.
Boys think: Challenge accepted.
But, I must admit, even with all that is lost in translation with my boy, I’m loving all the sweet boyness that comes with having a son. Even though he does his share of boyish harm during the day, he also fills our home with boyish charm.
My heart swoons when he holds my hand or gives me kisses. For those precious moments, I forget that the baby gate is halfway ripped out of the wall and I can forgive the fact that we can’t have luxuries like kitchen chairs right now. When he hands me a book with that proud smile, it’s hard to be upset that he also knocked out every single book in the process.
And at the end of the day, I simply snuggle him up on my lap, soak in his boyish charms and try to be grateful that he is finally, mercifully worn out.