A lady in my Facebook group, Carrie, asked me a while back if I had any tips on raising boys. She was having her first bundle of blue (congratulations!) and knows I’m the mom of four little male offspring.
I’ll start this by saying … I always wanted a girl. What could be more fun than buying My Little Ponies and prom dresses and having tea parties and baking cupcakes? Funny how things change. By the time I went in for my ultrasound for baby #3, I was praying, “Let this be a boy!” True, part of that was because I’m not confident a girl could survive this house. 😉 But a larger part of it was because I fell deeply, madly in love with having sons.
It’s a wild life. I promise you that. It’s loud. Dirty. Dangerous. There will be trips to the ER and not necessarily for things you might expect. Like, for instance, one time LL#2 stuck a piece of pink rubber from a pencil grip inside his ear because “it fit”.
Caption: This piece of rubber, from a pencil grip, was lodged in Little Locke #3’s ear. I know what you’re thinking – just pull it out! It’s too big to go that far! You would be wrong, my friend. Somehow, he twisted and mangled this thing until it was so deep, we didn’t know what it was!
There was also the time LL#3 stuck a pebble in his nose because he wanted to see how far it would go.
Notice a theme?
They’re always pushing boundaries, exploring, finding out the how’s and why’s. Something I learned somewhere in between a toy truck to the head (resulted in 26 stitches in the operating room) and poison ivy from head-to-toe is this: your first thought when they go out the door will be to tell them to be safe. I get it. I do. We want to protect them and put them in bubble wrap. You could do that, I suppose, but I guarantee you: it won’t help. Instead, I bite my tongue and tell them to have fun. Nurture their sense of curiosity and confidence. It will get them much farther in life than tiptoeing around the park.
I’ve created a bullet-point list of advice.
Disclaimer: This works for me and my parenting style. It might not work for you. At the end of the day, trust your gut. Follow your heart. Those are two other pieces of advice you may want to instill in your son (or daughter).
#1: Show no fear.
Snakes are the creepiest thing on the face of the planet. I can barely type out that word without looking under my desk for a venomous reptile. The moment my sons figure out my reaction? They caught every garter snake in our yard and taunted me with it. Same goes with bugs and salamanders. Swallow your fear and throw your shoulders back and pretend to be unfazed. It’s the only way.
#2: Buy bleach. Now.
Even if you’re reading this and just found our your having a boy, save yourself time and start buying bleach and bleach wipes. Yes, stockpile diapers and formula if you’re going that route (no, don’t stockpile them. It’s the only way to guarantee your baby will be allergic!). But if you’re having a boy, your life just started to take on the smell of urine. You have no idea. It will be everywhere: on clothes, toilets, floors, walls, your yard, porch, and sometimes the sofa. (Don’t ask). Accept this and prepare. Thank me later.
#3: Quantity over quality.
I’m talking about clothes. Especially as your son grows up, you’ll find yourself in front of expensive jeans and you’ll think, “The more expensive brands will hold up better than the cheaper pairs.” It’s a lie. Sure, pick up a pair or two of nice ones for church and weddings and trips to Grandma’s. Then pick up a handful of “reality jeans”. There hasn’t been a denim discovered that can hold up to the onslaught of a six year-old little boy. Note: it doesn’t get better as they get older. The rips just get bigger. On that topic …
Boys destroy. The subject of the destruction is dependent on your child, but they will break things. Take them apart. I have one kid that does it with mechanical things: engines, bikes, go-carts. Another can disassemble a microwave in twenty seconds flat. My third son breaks china. *cringes* And my baby boy has never met a sheet of paper he hasn’t crumbled. (Do you know how many folders I buy for school? You’re welcome, Mead.) Whatever your ideas are of how much will be broken, raise it a hundred percent. Identify what you can’t live without and is susceptible to breaking and put it away. Now.
#5: Do you know a farmer?
Consider buying a farm. Or, at the very least, a cow (because you can use them for meat and milk – it’s a twofer!).
#6: Be a fangirl.
He’s going to mess up. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s going to try things that aren’t really for him, like the time #1 wanted to play soccer. Terrible, terrible idea. (Almost as terrible as my dear husband volunteering to coach the team, but that’s a story for another day.) But he played. He stunk. And that phase was over. But you know what? I was his biggest fan. You have to be. Growing up is harder than we remember and being a boy with society’s mixed signals is mind-numbing. Be his fan. Lobby for him. Cheer him on whether he wants to play football or piano (or both, like #2). Watching him figure out his path to manhood is both the most heartbreaking and heartwarming thing in the world. Grab your pom-poms to cheer him on to being the man he’s going to be.
It will start on about day 3, when he uses it to spray you in the face. The fascination will continue to grow. It will never end.
Boys multiply. I never have a house with less than 7 boys (and only four are mine). Learn to accept the noise. The empty refrigerator. The pee (see item #2). Like my husband says, “We know where they are and what they’re doing.” It’s a small price to pay, right? (Just buy the good headphones and cheap pizza.) 😉 If you’re blessed to have more than one son – don’t panic. It’s just another plate at the table, load of laundry, and dirty, sticky face to kiss.
#9. Prepare for love.
The best thing about being a mother to little boys is their love. (And not having to carry in groceries.) They show it in different ways at different stages. Right now, #4 wants to marry me, #3 wants to protect me from every evil in the world (including men in the grocery store – what?), #2 wants to cuddle but only when no one is watching, and #1 drops notes on my desk, even though he acts tough in front of his friends. Their love is always fierce. Consistent (even when they “hate you” for taking away their phone for getting bad grades). And louder, more chaotic, and muddier (in the literal sense of the word) than you can ever, ever dream.
“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are son’s born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” – Proverbs 127: 3-5 (NIV)
For the record, My Little Ponies are great rides for army men and even the best generals need tea. 😉
Caption: The only thing the share every. single. time – strep throat.
This is the first post in a new Mom of Boys Blog Series. Interested in my life as a reader, writer, wife and mother to four amazing, chaotic, dirty, hilarious boys? Stay tuned (and subscribe!).