By Aline Weiller
Legos. Lightsabers. Little League. Ahhh … the joys of raising boys. While pregnant with my first child and pondering the gender, my mother diplomatically said, “You get what you need.” Apparently boy-deficient, I gave birth to two, three years apart.
A childhood tomboy, I had a penchant for building blocks versus playing house — a pastime that prompted a call home from my kindergarten teacher, concerned that I was wasn’t engaging in “girl things” at play time, to which my mother replied “And your point would be?” Early Polaroids feature me with low pigtails, snug beneath a baseball cap, a “Bad News Bears” wannabe. My most revered Christmas gift was sporting equipment — a prized, wooden hockey stick and matching helmet combo. I rest my case.
Though now a hair blowout and fashion enthusiast, I skirted the girly-girl cliques until middle school and beyond. Who knew crashing my brother’s playdates would yield keen insight into all things boys?
When blessed with boys, you discover both the pros and not “cons,” but perhaps, missed opportunities. There are no fancy bonnets nor fluffy tutus or trips to the American Girl store. No prom dresses or wedding gowns or donating ten-inch braids to Locks of Love.
But I don’t despair. Boy land has its perks! There are less bad hair days and clothing wars, save the occasional request for a player-specific jersey on deck in the laundry. And fewer tears on playdates. Oh, and boys never get cold, which helps when you’re missing their mitten’s mate. I’ve become video game literate, know the scariest Halloween costumes, can locate the coolest sneakers, and “get” sports stats. Of little surface value, this classified intel will win you fans on field trips and sleepovers. Judging American Idol with boys is also not a bad gig — you’re Mariah Carey’s shoo-in understudy, no audition required. And being the go-to-gal for that Guitar Hero Pat Benatar ballad is also not too shabby.
Boys’ birthdays and the accoutrements are similarly a plus. The gift buying, alone, is an all-out adventure even the likes of Indiana Jones would relish. The gadgets and gizmos, electronics and engines, collectibles and cards. And who can forget the party stuff? Simply stated: boys’ goody bags rock. Step aside Hannah Montana and High School Musical, our secret surprises are the epitome of awesome. Take for example, my absolute fave — the squishy, light-up eyeball ring, which I’ve even sported around the house, post-party. Not to dismiss the beloved parachute guy and the ever-popular Barrel-O-Slime — also perennial standbys. In addition, cakes sporting super heroes, pirates, and Jedis, in my opinion, beat out Hello Kitty any day of the week. Just sayin’.
And while we’re talking turkey, shopping highs are not exclusive to those with daughters. We, too, can get excited about a solid spree. Snapping up a sweater vest or two can provide a pick-me-up of Starbucks proportions. And let’s not downplay the triumphant rush after finding matching outfits, they will actually don, for the holiday card, complete with beach backdrop. Not to dismiss the thrill of buying their first blue blazer. Okay, maybe not nirvana, but still moments that merit a journal entry.
It seems, too, boys are always on a mission — competing in some dire, fantasy face-off. For reasons unknown, restaurant outings seem to beckon their invisible foes, as breadsticks become makeshift swords and crayons instant torpedoes. Note: straws also double as a weapon of choice.
Did I mention boys are fans of water pistols, pools, and puddles, yet less fond of bathing? I accept their love of action, but their need for entanglement — worthy of Hulk Hogan’s admiration — still boggles me. What’s more, boys will jump off ANYTHING and approach running and climbing with Olympic fervor. They revel in play and never tire of the outdoors; inclement weather short of hail ceases to faze them. Did your survival guide to raising boys also leave out these gems?
But, like Sears, boys have a softer side. My first-born, and now teen will endure a Sarah McLachlan song in the car, and has been known to unconsciously hum along. Born in Atlanta and dubbed my “Southern Gentleman,” he’s quick to open doors and tote groceries. Tall and patient, he waits for me on harried airport treks when I lag behind, bursting carry-on slung on my shoulder.
My younger son shows his affection out of the public eye. Like any good middle schooler, he’s banned me from the bus stop, but our morning good-byes remain heartfelt, leaving me with a faint mixture of worry and relief. Privately sweet, he proclaims I’m the “Best. Mom. Ever.” — a thesis he supports with Post It Notes and night time hugs. We sometimes practice our Mother-of-the-Groom dance in the kitchen, albeit two decades premature.
Loyal and brave, boys are forever protecting the mothership (and their mothers). Built-in bodyguards, they’re crusaders in khakis — always ready to fight the bad guys. Valiantly, mine would defend me to the end. Boys, they do love their mothers. And we, them.
Yup, I’ve got boys. They’re just what I needed.
Aline Weiller is a freelance writer/journalist whose work has been featured in print/online publications and blogs. She is also the founder of the public relations firm, Wordsmith, LLC, based in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two sons.
Illustration by Christine Juneau