Boys: Welcome to My World │ Raising Boys

I write for this online magazine called Society Letters. It's a perfect place for women of all ages to come together to discuss life, raising kids, how to improve their marriages. You get the idea.

My editor asked me to write about Things Only Parents of Boys Can Understand.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance. Because if I didn't, my thoughts about wanting to write this post --but not writing it -- would drive me crazy.

So, ↓ here's the article. It's a snap shot of my wonderful life. And one that --if you've had, or have or will have boys -- is a snap shot of yours. Ha ha. Welcome to my world.

Parenting: 5 Things Only Parents of Boys Can Understand

There’s a running joke between my husband and me. And the joke is really on us because, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we both assumed we’d be the best parents, discipline our children to perfection, love them beyond unconditionally, and that everything would be great.

Well, everything is great. It’s dandy. I love my two boys. But, the joke here is that you can’t control children. Or what they say. Especially boys.

Every parent who didn’t have kids and now has them, knows what I’m talking about. I mean, ultimately, we try our best to create and control the environment that they live in as they grow up and mature.

We teach them to do the right things, say the right things, feel empathy, love their siblings, brush their teeth. But, at the end of the day, we can try all we want but we really, really (really) can’t control what they do.

Do yourself a favor and understand that concept. The sooner you realize this -- the not being able to know what’s going to come out of their mouth ever -- the happier you’ll be.

If I had a dollar for every time we grownups look at one another and say, “Write this down, I never thought I’d have to say ...”, I’d be rich enough to hire a Ms. Manners to teach my children the proper thing to say and do around home, school, family, or friends.

But, I’m not rich because I forgot to write all 12, 387 of them down. And Ms. Manners is me. And I’m clearly not good at this. At all. So, while girls aren’t much “better” at being a bit more proper (I know; they fart and belch like the best of the boys) they don’t find it necessary to revel, laugh, joke, or question every bodily function the ways boys do. They aren’t magnetically drawn to dirt. They don’t find the desire to jump off everything.

So. Are boys in your future? Don’t know yet, but wonder and maybe hope they are? Good. Boys are the most wonderful creatures. But, there are a few things you need to jot down to remember so you don’t tear your hair out while raising them:

1. They are always loud
Okay. I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, well I have girls and they’re loud too.” Yes, yes they are. But girls tend to be louder when they’re around other girls. Boys? Boys are loud wherever they go. Twenty-four-seven. Loud around the dog, around their siblings, around their peers, by themselves! They yell in laughter, in pain, when their brother pants them, when playing video games. They live by the motto “loud means you’re living” and it’s best knowing this the second they breathe their first breath of air into this world.

2. They are always dirty
Try not to be too shocked by this. If it’s clean when he puts it on, it will –not maybe – it will be dirty within five minutes. Dirt comes out of the carpet, from the walls, from their very words, and imprints onto their clothes like a best friend. After fifteen years of boys, I’m still unclear about this scientific process.

But somehow, this theory is true regardless of the cause and effect. Invest in stain remover, buy “Oxy Clean” stock, and call it good. Hand wipes, towels, and washcloths should be in your purse or the trunk of your car, too. At all times. This dirtiness also means they will smell. Just how it is. Prepare yourself.

3. They are always (trying to be) funny
This is obvious. How? Because boys grow into men, and really, you can’t separate the boy from the man. If one trip down the stairs is funny, then how about two and three times tripping down the stairs? If one joke was hilarious, then how about a variation on that joke? There are times when my boys have me in stitches. I love it. And sometimes, my husband has me laughing. Sometimes.
But here’s a tip to teach your budding comedian: new material is funniest. And also remember, as a favor to the boys or men in our lives, laugh. Even if it isn’t funny. For the love of all things hilarious, just laugh. It will keep them (hopefully) trying to find fresh material.

4. They are always making messes
There’s a saying about boys and it’s this: Boys are dirt with noise. This pretty much needs to be on a plaque and tacked up to your wall. When you wake up and see this, you won’t sweat a thing. You’ll know to expect noise and dirt, and if it happens together, well, your boys are healthy!
Warning: boys rooms are kind of equivalent to a lab, a lab of any kind. Medical, science, black lab with a wagging tail. Food will end up in there (even if it’s against house rules), dirty clothes will happen every second, Legos will magically ascend to every inch of flooring. Plan on telling them they have to clean each mess up. Oh, and did I mention boys smell? Yeah. These messes create more smell. Yippers.
5. They eat. Constantly.
Do I really need to elaborate? Okay. When they’re in their terrible-twos stage, food isn’t such a precious commodity to them. They turn their nose at it, prefer to play, and eat when they absolutely have to. But be prepared for the table to turn. The second they reach seven to eight years old, food is virtually their reason for living. Get a second job. Get a third. Plan your monthly menus religiously. Food is the main course, at every course, and it will be your job to make sure it gets in their stomachs before all hell breaks loose – which, if they don’t eat, is roughly 13 times a day.

And yes, this transcends into adulthood. i.e. your boyfriend / husband.

Oh, and one more thing. Boys for some innate reason that goes beyond understanding (but I think heeds to the days of the Garden of Eden) don’t want to wear clothes. If they do, it’s usually one item. It may be pants. It may be underwear. Maybe just a puffy vest in the winter, or as my youngest says, “My winter tank top.” (I’m another dollar richer for that one… you can’t make that stuff up!)

But, if you have a boyfriend/husband, you already knew this one, right? Less clothing = better living. Or something like that.

This is just a small look into the world of raising boys. And while I still have to say things like “stop arguing with your brother … while you’re naked” or answer questions to “Do fish barf?”, or contemplate my eldest’s son comment of “I want to make a one-hit-wonder. That’s on my bucket list,” it’s obvious that with boys, life is never, ever dull.

So, expect crazy. And expect joy. And expect dirt with noise. But most of all, expect that boys are beautiful in their own way.

I love this sweet chaos about boys. So, teach them as best you can. And most of all, laugh and have fun with them every day. Because if you don’t, seriously, if you don’t … a padded room might be in your future.


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