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....