Snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.

What’s so bad about boys then?

A friend who is pregnant with twins has just found out she’s got two little boys in there. She already has a three year old. She was just looking for reassurance that having three boys is a breeze. This one’s for you, Cath.

BC (Before Children) I believed that boys and girls were largely the same until they got hormones, therefore should be brought up in a gender neutral environment. Hah, funny that.
On the other hand, I get quite cross with the women for whom taking a pop at their ‘crap’ husbands’ male characteristics. It’s too easy and really doesn’t help any of us get along and understand each other. That said, I don’t have a daughter so I’m not really qualified to make a proper comparison.

In the 11 years since I spotted my first child’s testicles in an ultrasound scan I have had two more sons and learned a few things about male children.

The penis is endlessly fascinating. From the first time a baby finds his and realises it’s attached, it will prove to be their favourite toy. What else can give target practice and sensual comfort in the same moment? Boy Two was spotted on the sofa this week with his pulled through a hole in his PJs, absent mindedly stroking it gently.

Farts and other bodily functions are funny… always. OK the look on Boy Three’s face was comical when he tried to figure out where that noise had come from, but later when every single toot, parp and guff triggers gales of laughter the joke will wear thin.

There aren’t very many ass-kicking female role models for little boys. Bob TB’s pearl wearing Wendy, Thomas TTE’s Clarissa and the other boring carriage, Minnie Mouse, Peter Pan – another wet Wendy and Harry’s swattish Hermione.

Wheels, guns and building toys will always be popular. Even if you only give them ‘soft’ playthings like dolls and crafty stuff, they will craft a weapon and take Peppa Pig off for a road trip.

Household chores are interesting too, providing there is machinery or construction. Boy Two’s favourite toy for a long time was his baby Dyson, Boy Three can’t get enough of the dishwasher, tumble dryer or washing machine and Boy One spent hours reorganising the contents of his dolls house. The same wooden dolls house is still one of the most popular toys amongst visiting kids, especially boys.

If you’re a boy, what’s not to like about traditional role models. While recognising differences, kids appear to be instinctively egalitarian, however sexual stereotypes sneak in and it’s easy to see why. If someone suggests that women are there to cook, clean and look after you while you go off to have adventures you’re not going to argue, are you?

Boys’ don’t get the sensibilites of the female ego. Their comments can cut. “Mummy, what are those lines beside your eyes?” “Boy Three is nearly a year old, when is your tummy going to go flat?” “Don’t put your hair in a ponytail, that’s only for little girls, not old people.”

A complement from your son is just the best. “You’re beautiful mummy.” “You’re really sparkly.” “Your hair is nice and slippery.”

They cannot stop themselves from kicking and throwing things. Live with it. I’m trying to channel it to some use. Currently working on the best thing to get the Boys to throw at the cobwebs on the skylight over the stairs to knock them off. A muslin cloth tied in knot is current favourite.

They will like Doctor Who, You’ve Been Framed, TV Burp, The Simpsons and anything with superheroes in it, you might as well mug up and join them on the sofa.

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  1. says

    Love the comment about the ponytail and the nice 'slippery hair.' Little girls are just as bad tho. I remember sitting with Jenna, 5, and asking her what she was going to name her new doll. She stared at my mouth for what seemed like ages then answered: 'Squint teeth.'

    J x

  2. says

    I'm really torn on the boy / girl thing. There was an article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago about parents of boys swapping with parents of girls. Maybe I'm just jealous that I don't have the quiet sort of girl everyone speaks of, but I think there's more difference within the genders than between them. However, having a much younger brother and two nephews, I agree with your observations which definitely apply to those two too. We couldn't believe it when my brother started using sticks in the garden as guns when he was only about 2. Something none of the three sisters had every done.

    Slight tangent, but I had to catch myself on earlier this week when I found myself encouraging Cara to buy a pink scooter instead of blue. They only come in two colours and she had one before but someone took it from the park (I hope accidentally) and we never saw it again. I took her to the toy shop this week to buy a new one and she insisted she wanted blue, not pink (even the box of the blue one is different!), and I'm just waiting for the first person to say that blue scooters are for boys.

  3. Debbie says

    On my limited experience, as a sister and aunt rather than a mother, I've got to agree with you about the differences being somehow wired in – although I have one nephew who went through an early cross-dressing phase when all he wanted to wear was his sister's Belle from Beauty and the Beast dress – and my youngest nephew is showing similar tendencies now.
    But Jill's right about little girls being similarly lacking in tact. I still have a complex dating to a sweet little cherub looking up at me and asking “Why do you have such a hairy nose?”

  4. Cath says

    I'm honoured to have inspired a blog post Ellen! I must admit I was a bit disappointed that I will probably never be a Mummy to a “little princess” but I am now completely at one with the idea of having a house full of boys. I think it will suit me. Farts (or windypops as they are known in our house)*are* funny. I quite like superheroes (He-man is a particular favourite) and dinosaurs rock! I've always been a bit of a Tom-boy at heart, perhaps ever since my Mum dressed me in boys clothes as a baby. She says it was because I couldn't keep my tights up!!

  5. says

    Sally, they are, aren't they?

    J, Oh, she's a sharp one, she will go far.

    Jo, Cara is such a wonderful bright spark.

    Debbie, I think the cross dressing is probably in them all. Both Boys One and Three are fascinated by my shoes. Perhaps girls don't do it because there's not really much fun in flat shoes and trousers, is there?

    Cath, can I just say that if you were able to keep your tights up you wouldn't be in this particular pickle;)
    You'll do a brilliant job, it'll be a blast. x

  6. says

    I have a boy and a girl and have tried hard not to introduce sexual stereotyping. In the fug after my daughter was born I eventually realised that most of the toys she possessed were actually inherited from her brother. Where then did the clamour for all things pink, sparkly and girlie come from? Don't know, but when it did it came with a vengeance!

  7. says

    Tawny, so it can't be co-incidence. They're just like that.

    Julia, I too had ideals about a gender-neutral house. It quickly vanished under tanks trucks and guns. Boy Two went to the local village show on Saturday and came home with FOUR new guns!

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