Saturday, 17 October 2009

It's a boy thing

When I was a little girl, my mother had a friend with two little boys about the same ages as me and my younger sister.

We would go round to their house to play. (They weren't called playdates then; a term I dislike, but am starting to adopt reluctantly as it's so much easier in America). These afternoons I always remember as rough, chaotic, and dominated by games involving war and fighting. There were toy trucks all over the place and plastic guns and swords. Nothing that I wanted to play with. There was always shouting and shoving and lots of running around. The brothers would fight, and beat each other up.

Growing up, we would hear more tales of these boys and their behaviour. One of them had dialled 999 and called the fire brigade. One of them had thrown a rock and broken a window in someone else's conservatory when they were house-hunting. My sister and I would listen in wide-eyed innocence at these tales (not that we weren't bad, far from it, but our naughtiness was on a much more subtle level). My mum would mutter that while she'd always wished for a boy herself, now she really felt for her poor friend, who was worn out by these two little devils.

And now? Ladies and gentlemen, I have started to realise that I am that mother. I am the one who mothers of girls stare at in sympathy and fascination. The one whose children have a volume switch permanently turned up to max, and are usually tearing around the room in over-excitement roaring like dinosaurs or brandishing toys as weapons.

And it is for that reason that I have come to the conclusion that I should only really pursue new 'playdate' friendships with fellow mothers of boys - and, preferably, boys the same age or older than mine, as the ones who have tiny little things don't realise yet what is in store. ("Just you wait," I thought recently when a Dad took it upon himself to admonish me because my boy was pushing in front of his on the slide - his 18month old looked like a bruiser-in-waiting).

When we have playdates with other little boys, it generally goes much better - the mothers are used to the aggression levels, decibels, throwing and general energy, and the boys usually have a good time playing with someone on their own wavelength. Somehow, they cancel each other out.

Of course, there are exceptions - I have several friends at home in the UK with girls, but they have generally known me for a while and my boys since they were babies, so more goodwill has built up over the years and I am not just perceived as 'that mother with the naughty boys'.
But in general, it's a bit like childbirth itself. It's not till you've experienced boys that you really know what they are like. And an invisible wall separates those who've been there from those who have not.....

*This post is sponsored by a playdate where, among other things, the boys: trod on a baby, constantly pretended to drill holes in the host Dad's head with a toy drill, which wore rather thin after a while, and chucked a basketball dangerously near to the brand-new looking widescreen TV....

18 comments:

Fourdownmumtogo said...

With four little monsters in the making I feel your pain. I think it is hard for people to understand that we do try, very hard, to make our boys behave/be quiet/sit down/listen/be polite/stop brandishing that stick/pushing in front/shouting so hard it makes bystanders' ears bleed, it's just that they don't take blind bit of notice.

When people tut at me and my boys (usually parents with a tiny doll of a girl all dressed up in a perfect designer floral frock), I always want to say 'Go ahead, if you're such a perfect parent, you have a go at corralling them without resorting to ear bleeding screaming or threats/promises of sweets'. I could then sit back and tut at their futile attempts to tame boys.

Just ignore them and console yourself with the fact that your boys are 100 times more fun than their well behaved little girlies.

Expat mum said...

I have found girls with older brother are usually quite tough! I remember years ago, a women tutting at my (then) two who were horsing around in a shop. She kept telling her perfect child not to behave like mine (they were actually singing and dancing for god's sake). My daughter asked me why the woman was saying such things so I responded rather loudly, "Because she's a perfect parent. Her child never misbehaves and I'm an abomination of a mother". I think it was all lost on her though! Shame.

Who's the Mummy said...

I'm a Mum to a little girl who is annoyingly well behaved. But I wouldn't ever comment on a boisterous boy - the only children I tell Flea she is NEVER, under ANY circumstances to emulate are those girls that squeal- what is that???

I've told Flea only stupid, stupid people make that noise and if she ever does it, I'm putting her up for adoption. Seriously.

Mwa said...

I think my girl is more like your boys than my boy is.

Iota said...

Hurrah for boys! I know what you mean, though. I used to wonder about all those girls who sit and colour, and do craft activities, and choose between two different biscuit shapes like their life depended on it... Now I have one of those too, and her girliness constantly surprises me.

I agree with you re the word 'playdate'.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Gah, wrote a comment and it disappeared.

I'm with fourdownmumtogo on this one. I'd negotiate with my boys if only I could catch them and keep them sitting still for more than 10 seconds. But, I'm told, us mothers of brothers will be the smug ones when they all hit their teenage years.

Come over to my house any time you like for a playdate. My boys would LOVE it, and so would I! Who were the fools to have a new wide screen TV and balls in close proximity with young boys in the vicinity anyway?

PS - I love boys. I have no idea what I'd do if I had a girl. All that pink. Urgh.

Mom/Mum said...

Oh NVG - your boys and my boys would get on famously! I sometimes wonder if I am partly to bame for their boisterousness, that I have failed to put the brakes on and have lost the 'how to raise well-beahved boys' manual. But, your post reminds me that, it's a gene thing and as my two currently dash around me, brandishing toast as weapons (!) I fee a little of my inner zen returning! Thank you.

Nicola said...

what a great post. And i totally agree. My boys are loud and destructive and warring...and that's just their good behaviour. I was getting a coffee the other morning and the boys where charging around the shop aisles, chasing each other with exhuberence but generally keeping out of everyone's way. Most people seemed to find that level of energy at 8am in the morning most irritating. The line of (predominantly men) behind me where not amused by their antics. I just wanted to scream, 'do you think that you were any different when you were a kid??'

Sometimes it exhausts me just to be in their company for half an hour. All that non stop action. But every other mother of boys that I talk to gets it and sometimes that just has to be enough to get me through the days!

Potty Mummy said...

We should start our own group on BMB, really, shouldn't we? We could call it the 'mums of perfectly healthy little boys, who quite fancy a break but never actually get one' group...

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Potty, that is a genius idea. The Mums of perfectly healthy boys who are totally exhausted but way fitter than those mothers of girls - and we can catch better than an English cricketer and mountaineer better than Hillary.

Just wish they had a volume control. I think having more than one just makes them all the more extreme.

Nota Bene said...

My brother and I would like it known that we were angels as little boys. Or at least I was.

nappy valley girl said...

Fourdownmumtogo - that's exactly what they are - untameable. Ultimate respect to you for grappling with four....
ExpatMum - what a fabulous retort. I shall have to try it.
Who's the Mummy - squealing would irritate the hell out of me too. And I know plenty of little girs that can whinge and whine. They're certainly not perfect, but they just don't seem to have the tornado quality that boys have...
Mwa - well, look on the bright side at least there is only one behaving badly then!
Iota - Littleboy1 can't see the point of colouring. He likes drawing, but whenever he gets colouring for his homework he says 'you do it Mummy.'
Brit in Bosnia - perhaps a virtual playdate? Via Skype!
Mom/Mum - manual? If only....
Nicola - I've just had them on my own all weekend. And it's raining. At the moment I'm ignoring them while they chase each other round the dining room table fighting over an electronic mouse. You get the picture....
PM - yes, a mother of boys support group? We could share tips for boy taming...
Brit in Bosnia - yes, they certainly keep me fit. I have to go on at least two walks a day with them - like having a pair of labrador pups.
NB - Now I can't believe that...any more than my father in law's claim that his three sons were well-behaved.

mothership said...

I have one of each and although my girl is a relatively wild thing and will not play with dolls or have her hair brushed, she is NOTHING like my 2 year old son who wakes up jumping and shouting and doesn't stop all day long except when he's picking up sticks or rocks and throwing them or trying to kill himself or break things. I see my future and it looks very tiring. I want to take the batteries out but I can't find out where they put them. I didn't used to believe that girls and boys were different (70's brainwashing, thanks parents) but now I know better. But one fabulous thing - the boys LOVE LOVE LOVE their mums and it's totally uncomplicated, unlike the girls. I completely get the whole mummy's boy thing, now. I'm in favour of it. It's the only reason we would put up with all the other stuff, right? RIGHT?

A Modern Mother said...

Please, have a girl soon so we can have a playdate.

Fiona said...

I have a 3 year old girl and an 18 month old boy. My little boy is into everything he shouldn't be and things have to be put out of his way far more then for my daughter when she was this age!

Lorna Harris said...

I think mothers of boys should be given special benefits to help them cope...free spa days, that sort of thing. Boys are different beyond belief!

Hugo said...

I'm that father-in-law (just looking!). I'll say this - The Doctor really was well behaved - but that's not surprising in view of what he's become. As for the whole boys together thing - I guess it's just a matter of age (mine!) - I can't stand loud noises in general any more and I've probably forgotten what it was really like anyway. They were lovely together all the same, though ...

nappy valley girl said...

Mothership - you're right, they do love their mummies. And they are very cute. I can't actually imagine having a girl now, I'm so used to little boyness.

Susanna - if only it were that simple. I'd love to have a playdate anyway - if your girls can cope with two noisy boys and if you're ever on Long Island...

Fiona - and, from what I've noticed, some little boys are far, far worse than others about touching stuff...

Lorna - free spa days? Bring it on...

Hugo - The Doctor denies that he was this perfect..he probably just knew better how to hide from trouble!