Don’t get me wrong — I don’t actually want daughters. Parents of girls have plenty of problems, most of which will rear their ugly, horrifying heads around age twelve or so — I should know, I used to teach in an all-girl’s school. I also used to be a girl. And I was a raging bitch. One could even argue that I still am. Nate makes this argument frequently, though not in so many words. Anyway, I like boys. I get boys. I grew up with all brothers and almost all boy cousins. Boys are easy. They get muddy. They hit things. They throw things. They kick things — usually each other. They make each other bleed. Then one of them farts and they chuckle uncontrollably for an obnoxious length of time while they eat everything in sight.
So, here is a short list of my recurring problems that I can only assume are uniquely mine because my offspring are boys, not girls.
Batarangs. This was more than a priority one recent spring morning — Nate suddenly developed an urgent need to have a fully functioning and made-to-scale Batarang. I had a lot to do that morning: laundry, some basic cleaning, library books to return, a complete grocery run — a monumental task with both Nate and Sam: “Stop asking for stuff! Stop running away! You’re disrupting my very focused inner monologue! Do we need milk or not?!” — and I had to make a dinner for that evening that the babysitter could simply throw in the oven since I wouldn’t be home. Plus, Sam seemed to be getting some new teeth in that little mouth of his, so he was a little needier than usual. He basically wanted to spend the entire morning in a desperate mother-son embrace. If I so much as dared to pry those little fingers from their fierce grip around my neck, he emitted an ear-piercing shriek.
“Shut up, Sam! Give me my space! I’ve got a Batarang to construct!”
Because for some reason, I had an intrinsic drive to make this Batarang the best. one. ever. And I’m not talking about some passive-aggressive competitive mom thing where we have to show off our perfectly iced Minion cupcakes on as many social media outlets as possible — I’m talking about making this the champion of all Batarangs, strong enough to actually be hurled at the villains that populate our suburban Kansas City neighborhood — like Nancy, our very sweet mail-carrier with whom I secretly want to be best friends. Or Grover, the neighbor’s dog who barks incessantly and at whom I really do often want to hurl things.
Nate sat nearby, patiently dumping out every toy we own and re-locating it as far from it’s proper storage location as possible, while my inner perfectionist — whom I really, truly thought had died and was long buried — took over. The joke’s on me, though, because not only did I end up picking up all those aforementioned dislocated toys, but I was repeatedly thwacked with the Batarang while doing so. And yes, that thing, complete with duct tape and reinforcing take-out chopsticks, is strong. And painful.
I just overheard Nate say, “Who needs to buy weapons when you can make them?” I suddenly foresee a long future ahead of me, forging metal…
Peeing while standing up. Ok, this talent/skill/gift from God is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because we can take potty breaks anywhere. Give us a tree and Nate’s set — he doesn’t even care who’s around: forty high school girls practicing lacrosse? No problem, Nate’s not shy. Neighbors we scarcely know? It’s cool, he gives them a friendly wave as if peeing in our front yard is standard operating procedure. The downside to peeing while standing up? Aim. This kid can barely aim well enough to walk through an open doorway, let alone pee into a porcelain basin, roughly twelve inches in diameter. Consequently, all of our toilets smell of stale urine, and from what I remember sharing a house with three brothers and now a husband, this will be the case for a long time. Forever. Someone should clean.
Toddler boners. I’d expand on this one, but I’m not exactly clear on the rules here. I don’t know what causes them… Just know that they exist.
Overflowing Pockets. From what I can tell, boys are hoarders — matchbox cars, rocks, action figures, crayons, puzzle pieces, socks — and when they run out room in their own pockets, they’ll resort to yours. “Hold this, please Mom.” “Ew, why?” And sometimes, Nate manages to do this when I’m not looking, which is why I now have Silly Putty permanently cementing the pocket shut on my favorite green sweatpants. Maybe it’s a sign that I should stop wearing such frumpy sweatpants, but hey, it’s one of the few professional benefits of a SAHM.
Meanwhile, Sam has food adhered to all parts of his outfit. I’ve found frosted mini-wheats folded into the cuffs of his jeans, Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars tucked into his little velcro shoes, and grapes wedged in his pockets. Sam’s hoarding for a very specific reason: survival. If I take him to run errands with me and we spend too much time at Target, it’s cool, Sam’s planned ahead and packed enough food to sustain his existence another few hours. Nate, on the other hand, hoards to hoard. Accumulating wealth is a sport to him and he will not be sharing. He stops on the walk home from school to pick up sticks, leaves, and rocks. He gets excited at the grocery store when he sees a penny on the floor. And he is thrilled when he sees that some very unfortunate child has left a toy at the playground — even if it’s just some small fragments of sidewalk chalk. Finders, keepers!
Daughters-in-law. What a terrifying concept! I should know because again, as I mentioned, I’m a girl. And a daughter-in-law. I know what girls are capable of, and it’s not pretty. So I try to be proactive here — I keep an eye on the girls in Nate’s preschool class. I watch with a vigilant eye the twins as they flaunt their twin magic and their superhero books —two things they know, without ever being told, that no boy can resist.
One little girl caught my eye last week at the library when Sam and I were there for Story Time. She must have been a little more than a year old. I gave her the up-down. She probably did the same to me as she moved in to flirt with Sam. She was sporting some little pink Nikes and an Under Armour t-shirt that said “Kiss My Cleats.” Clever. I respect that. And she’s apparently an athlete. What a formidable foe. Sam was immediately drawn in by her bright blue eyes and perfect lashes — do I detect a little mascara, my gold-digging friend? — and a luscious, full diaper that she shook with great purpose during “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” And once he saw those Pepperidge Farm Goldfish — oh, she’s good! — he was smitten. Okay, little diva, have your way with him. Break his heart, it’s a lesson we all have to learn. And lo and behold, she did…when her mom pulled her away to go check out some books. Meanwhile, Sam recovered. Moments later, he was salivating over a new girl. This one had a very runny nose. Be cautious, Sam! You’ve been hurt before! I got your number, girl. You better check yourself — if you give this kid a new heartache, or a cold, or croup, or gonorrhea, you’ll have me to deal with.
Alright, I’m out. I gotta go wipe breakfast off the walls and start getting lunch together so that, you know, I can wipe that off the walls later, too.