Before I had my children, I noticed the extreme difference between working with boys and girls as a therapist. I had a giant bucket of Potato Head people in my therapy office and watched with interest as the boys made Potato Head boys who wrestled and ”killed each other dead”. The girls made a boy Potato Head and a girl Potato Head and they went on dates and got married. These are the children raised by enlightened mothers in the 90s intent on nurturing gender neutral, peace loving children (how did that work out??). My former mother in law told me how she didn’t let her boys play with guns, but they chewed their toast into pistols and dueled across the breakfast table. So when I found out my baby was a boy, in spite of or maybe because of the fact that I grew up with brothers (or “little bothers” as Adam called Eric for a while), I was a little worried. I remember being very pregnant with my oldest son Adam and talking to my mom and mother in law at my baby shower. I showed them one of my gifts, “What to Expect When You Are Expecting”, and told them that if I had any questions about this mom business that they couldn’t answer, I would just look it up in the book (this was in the old days, before Google). I said this with a serious face and they almost snorted their punch through their noses they were laughing so hard. They pulled themselves together and said simultaneously, “Good luck with that!” What did they know about having a boy that I didn’t? Plenty.
When they hand you that bundled up little guy in the hospital, the next things they should hand you are a bible, a helmet, a Costco size box of bandaids and a big bottle of Advil. Kind of like a Welcome Wagon basket for boys. In my family, I have my dad, two brothers, two boys, 3 nephews, and four former brother in laws. Can you say testosterone tsunami? Someone is always wrestling, tripping, pushing, biting, punching or burping in my family circle. My mom noticed this with my nephews last week, the older brother being mercilessly tough on the younger one and it brought to mind images of my brothers growing up. They are both almost forty and they still pull the chairs out from one another or wrestle on occasion (until their wives give them the stinkeye to cut it out). Good times.
I spoke with a neuropsychiatrist who told me that the newest research shows boys’ brains don’t fully mature in the frontal lobe (the area that controls impulse, emotion and attention) until closer to 28…years not months. That explains a lot frankly. I am not sharing this with my friend Ashley who is expecting her first baby this summer. She is excited, now that she isn’t throwing up every ten minutes, and the doctor will confirm his suspicions that she is having a boy next week. Not all is rough and tumble about raising these little Y chromosomes. There are actually plenty of wonderful things about being a mom of boys too. They are funny and brave and silly in a way very different from girls. She will learn more about dirt and frogs and football (probably) than she ever wanted to know. Boys give the best hugs and love their moms fiercely (when no one is looking). She will be a great boy mom I am sure and I need to start thinking about a baby gift. Maybe I should get going to Costco today for the Advil and bandaids….
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