I’m raising three boys. I married one, gave birth to the other two. Before you label me an emasculating nag, let me just tell you that my husband is an awesome father and partner, and while he routinely scrubs the finish off of my plastic cookware, at least he’s doing the dishes. Also, he once tried to fix an electrical outlet with a butter knife. While the power was still on. So, that’s what I’m working with.
The trajectory of learning to raise boys was not so much a curve, but rather an abrupt drop that plummeted to the depths of sanity, with me shrieking all the way. I have a sister. My mom has a sister. My maternal grandmother had two sisters. “Girl” is a language I’m familiar with. My husband prepared me for raising boys in bits and bites; by the time I was pregnant with my first child, I was ready to have a toilet seat perpetually raised, a trail of clothing on the floor (presumably, to help him find his way to the kitchen) and an affinity for sports. My husband was rebellious and untamed back in his day (he specifically asked that I not mention the time he stole a street cleaner, so I won’t.) We thought we could anticipate and be prepared for anything our boys threw at us.
As it turned out, we were dumb. Boys are encoded with baffling behaviour and unexplained rituals. Every time I catch up, something new comes along. If you have any insights on the following, I’m all ears:
Mess: Imagine a dumpster fire. Now it’s in your living room. My home is a constant eruption of indelible markers, old food, new food and toys that are designed to break the sound barrier and the human spirit. I don’t need a nanny, I need a priest.
Smell: I’m not talking about the obvious shaboomie in the diaper after taco night. I’m talking about the pervasive, insistent aroma that follows my boys around. Nate’s natural smell seems to be yogurt and dirty running shoes. And sometimes poop. Which leads me to…
Poop: My kids are obsessed. They talk about poop constantly. They think it’s the most hilarious word in the English lexicon. Nate has even developed a highly sophisticated language whereby every other word is “poop”. It took a while to crack the code, but now we watch Frozen together and happily sing along to “Let It Poop.”
Danger: If there’s a way to climb something, dangle from somewhere or perch precariously on something that’s not meant for climbing, they will find it. The calm, centred, nurturing Mama inside of me says “They’re just testing their boundaries. Let them explore.” The part of me that’s attached to my face screams “For the love of GOD get off that scaffolding before you break your neck!”
What I couldn’t have known, what no one prepared me for, was the utter love and devotion my boys have – for me. While I was busy falling in mad, deep, crazy love for my kids, I hadn’t noticed that they were doing the same thing. Of all the “boy stuff” I was unprepared for, that surprise was the most welcomed.