So when we were asked to become legal guardians of Bug and Dora, we were happy to do it because well, we love the kids. One thing that did not dawn on me at the time was that I was used to having daughters – twin daughters — and I was taking on a boy!
And oh boy, are boys different! Now luckily for me, I didn’t have to worry about boys’ diapers or the fact that they can pee on your face — that much I knew from my sister. But no one gave me a heads up that personal hygiene for boys is different than it is for girls when it comes to private parts.
It wasn’t until poor little Bug got a minor infection and I took him to the pediatrician that this issue was addressed. You would have thought that my husband would have given me some kind of a heads up, but I guess he takes it as a normal part of life and didn’t think about it. Or probably, more likely, didn’t think of the fact that his mother had to teach him to take care of those parts.
I also didn’t realize how many times I would have to tell a boy to get his hands off his private parts! I almost began to wonder if there wasn’t something wrong with him. But of course, now, being the mother of a boy, I started paying attention to other boys. And I noticed that they also, at this age, treat their private parts like a toy! I mean, come on! Why do we buy Legos?!
But I get it — it’s an interesting part of the body. I mean especially when he wakes up in the morning and it’s standing up, saluting! And he’s like, “I think I need to go pee.” Of course, that’s not the case and I have to sit there and explain, “Well, it’s just natural. Something that can happen to boys.” And the reality is I’m not entirely comfortable doing that.
Now, I keep telling myself to give myself a break because it would be different had I had him from being a baby onwards, but instead I get a crash course on what it is like to be the mother of a boy, the age of 4. Of course, like many of the other boys I know, he loves to name his private parts — the pink ranger; Sonic; Spider-Man! Yes, it is a superhero! And I hope someday, a woman agrees.
No one thing I’m certainly hoping that he grows out of (because no woman would enjoy that) is his fascination with his bodily functions. I mean, this kid, he loves to fart, he loves to burp and he thinks it’s the most hilarious thing on earth! One day we were sitting in the living room and he must have burped fifteen times! Of course, I had to keep telling him, “You’re gonna make yourself throw up,” and of course he didn’t listen. As soon as I walked out of the room, he did it again! Of course, I could hear him, so back I came into the room to tell him he’s gonna make himself sick! My husband is of no help because he just thinks it’s funny. I guess it must be a man-boy humor thing. But lucky for me, my husband doesn’t do that, because let me tell you — he would be sleeping in another bedroom!
And why, oh why, is everything a weapon?! This boy can turn anything into a gun! His hands, pencils, crayons! We’re not a gun kind of family; we don’t have guns laying about; My husband’s not a hunter. So where is this coming from? We don’t even watch any kind of violent television. Where does it come from?! I talk to his biological mother on a regular basis and of course, she says the same thing — she doesn’t know. She has no idea where this is coming from but he’s been like this since he was born! He just picked it up somewhere and has stuck with it!
It’s the little things, you know. Even shopping. Shopping is so different for a boy than it is for a girl. I mean, bing! Bang! You go, you pick up the T-shirts (superheroes preferred) and the shorts and the other necessities and you’re done! I used to spend hours going through dresses and trying to figure out colors and styles and none of that is necessary! That’s kind of nice actually. But it’s also kind of sad — I never really feel like I’m being fair to him when I go clothes shopping but I mean the selection is so limited for boys, isn’t it?
Now one mom told me that I had to get used to the idea that boys are less empathetic. And I don’t find that to be the case. I don’t think that Bug is any more or any less empathetic then the girls are but he is more… rough. And one of the things that have surprised me is how much power that little body has. I mean, the girls push you, it’s not a big deal. Four-year-old pushes you and you’re going to end up on your butt! I mean, this boy is strong! He is so strong! And of course, not only is he strong — he’s rough! He likes to tumble; he likes to wrestle, and even giving him a kiss can become a tug-of-war. It’s just incredible, the difference in the roughness level — the way that he plays compared to my experience with three other girls.
Of course, this means more clothes because, well, guess what? He tears them to pieces! I mean! oh my gosh! Target must be loving me because frankly, it feels like I’m in there every other week, buying something to replace something that he tore or he shredded jumping around, getting in the mud, climbing up trees!
And the ER! I’m now a frequent visitor to the ER! I always think his biological mother thinks I’m not taking good care of him, which of course, she assures me, that’s not the case because she had the same experience! No matter what I do this boy gets hurt! And I’m constantly around him! I mean, even something as benign as taking him to a bouncy house. The twins went to the bouncy house since they were one and now they’re thirteen. And if it wasn’t for the current epidemic, they would still be going to bouncy houses. They love that kind of setting. This boy, I’ve taken him once. Once! In the thirteen years I’ve taken my girls, there hasn’t been a single injury. This boy, I take him once and he breaks a foot!
All I have to do is to turn around and he’s climbing on the sofa and I’m, “Get off the sofa! We don’t want to go to a hospital in this pandemic!” But of course, does it make any difference? Not really. No. As soon as I turn back around, he’s climbing over the sofa again. And yes, of course, we’ve been to the ER because he’s clunked his head on the floor! No, nothing happened to him — I had a minor heart attack! He was fine.
One thing I didn’t think I would have any problems with was his level of activity. I mean, my God, he’s busy! The level of energy this kid has is incredible! No why did I think it would not be a problem! Well, I have a daughter who has ADHD — attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity — in the severe range so she’s always been incredibly busy. Well, it’s just like that — except he’s not hyper — this is normal!
And of course, everything is a challenge. What do I mean by that? He has to clean the table faster than his sisters; he has to run faster than his sisters; he has to pedal faster; he has to be stronger! It’s exhausting! Absolutely exhausting! I wish I was 20 when I’m around him — And I never find myself wishing I was 20!
I don’t know how moms that have just all boys do it. And of course, it feels like letting him out of my sight takes an enormous leap of faith, because I’m certain that nobody can watch him as well as I can. Well, it was like that with the other kids, I admit it — I’m always like that. But the thing about him is that the leap of faith is primarily because I’m afraid he’s going to do physical damage to himself jumping around or running. Right now, he’s running with his hands behind his back, face forward because he wants to be like Sonic. It scares the hell out of me! I think he’s gonna fall on his face, break his jaw, break all of his teeth, and… ugh!
So yes, being the mom of a boy has been a challenge for me. But it’s also so rewarding! When he naps with me and he cuddles. When he goes in and says “Happy Mother’s Day for the last time today, Mom,” before he goes to sleep. When he thinks that he can rescue me or he can protect me — or his sisters, for that matter, who are pretty hardy! When he smiles and he looks up at me with those beautiful brown eyes. And I could just melt. And I feel sorry for every girl that’s going to come and break his heart because I’m going to want to break her face!
He’s so wonderful. And strong. And cuddly. And interested in everything mechanical — if it’s broken, he’s going to try to fix it. He’s like my little mini hero.
And at those moments when he’s trying to carry a grocery bag for me, that’s too heavy; or he’s opening the door for me, because he’s trying to be a gentleman, my heart is so full and so warm, that the fact that I just stepped on another Lego and learned that I was capable of cussing like I was a sailor, I find myself thinking, “I’m so privileged to be the Mom of a 4-year-old boy!”