The Truth About Boys and Girls

I’m going to break all the rules of good writing and tell you the punch line first. Here you go.

The truth about boys and girls is (drum roll, please…):  They are different. I know that comes as a shock (especially considering what my youngest son asked for for Christmas), but I have clear and decisive evidence. Ready?

Exhibit One: My friend Missy (who keeps an awesome blog called “Let Em Go Barefoot“) recently went for a walk with her daughter Sadie, and they came home with this:

What Little Girls Find in the Woods

Photo credit Missy Gibson Willis

So pretty. I imagine they made lovely decorations throughout her home. A few days later, I went walking with two of my boys, Eli and Everett. We came home with this:

What Boys Bring Home

Which is frankly terrific. Flowers would not have coordinated nearly as well with the decor in that room:

Existing decor

Click for a closer look if you like gross things.

I’m pretty sure we’re only a few pieces shy of having Rudolph’s entire endoskeleton ready for assembly in our sun room. If the boys figure out how to resurrect him, he’ll work nicely with the bowls of tadpoles and other living pond life scattered artfully around the room.

Lest you think perhaps this difference (which extends to their auditory habits and leisure activities as well) has something to do with upbringing, please refer back to the Christmas story. And this. When Monty was still a squiggly little larva in my belly, we told everyone to please buy gender-neutral colors and styles for our baby-to-be. We were to have no play guns, and only gender-balanced toys in the house. For every toy truck, there would be a toy doll. For every train set, there would be a tea set. Our son would not be trained to like “boy” things.

Not that he appreciated our attention to these details. For the first few weeks after arrival, he was mostly interested in boobs and ceiling fans and had absolutely nothing to say about issues of gender equality whatsoever, so long as the milk bar was open 24 hours a day. But after a couple months, he started to take notice of things. Mostly big loud things with lots of moving parts, like garbage trucks. As soon as he could arch his back, he would fuss and crane himself around on my shoulder, straining to look out the window when he heard the trucks rattling down the road.

At seven months, he started walking and also pointing L-shaped sticks at me and saying, “bang! bang!”

This was the point at which I conceded, to my chagrin and dismay, that indeed, boys ARE different than girls. Even little boys who ask for pink suitcases for Christmas.

Which brings us to another point.

I always thought I’d have a little girl. I’d dress her in cute clothes (OH MY GOODNESS so many cute clothes) and we’d bond while brushing out her lovely dark curls. They would definitely be dark. Each time I gave birth to one of my sons I expected him to come out with a big shock of dark hair and a face that looked like the adorable little cherub’s face in all my baby pictures. The second two I also expected to arrive with girl parts. Every single one of my children surprised me on their birthday with a minimalist’s suggestion of blond hair, and a penis.

Sometimes I feel sad about this. Like when I watched my college roommate dance with her mom on her wedding day, and I bemoaned that I would never have a daughter to watch pick out a wedding dress while I bite my tongue and try not to express how awful it is because now she’s all grown up and doesn’t need me telling her how to dress. Having a daughter would be a beautiful thing.

But of course I’m incredibly grateful for the sons I have. How could I not be? After all, you know, long hair is a pain. My middle son was born with a luxurious lawn of it all over his body. We got pretty strange looks from the midwife when we asked if any of her other clients had recently given birth to a wookie. She didn’t seem inclined to explain. Instead, she murmured softly about otter babies, swimming around in amniotic fluid, protected by a layer of fur. I hadn’t even asked about otters for goodness sake. It’s not like the child was sporting a pair of whiskers.

It turned out he wasn’t an otter at all, and the child lost most of his fuzzy covering eventually, including pretty much everything that had been on his head. It never really grew back except just enough to prevent him being classified as legally bald.

Nevertheless, at the age of 8, he wakes up every morning with the back portion of his fuzzy head looking like someone rubbed sandpaper over it all night long. And it usually stays looking that way all day. His mother is too busy thinking about important things like how to describe the particular quality of light reflecting off the mirror’s frame onto the back of her hand and what that says about the nature of God, the universe, and everything… to be thinking about whether anyone’s hair has been combed. Priorities.

So. Anyway. Imagine if one of my children were possessed of a great shock of curly dark hair. Oh my. Clearly, God knew what was what when I was assigned all boys. Whew.

Being a Boy

What do you think? Are boys and girls really different? And does it really matter?

11 responses to “The Truth About Boys and Girls

  1. Boys have a great deal more of testosterone, so I guess that makes them like loud and violent things. It mimics how they perhaps feel inside.

    I’ve learned lately how much hormones have an influence on my mood and personality with switching birth controls around. Bleh!

    • Just skimmed the post. I’m taking BC for the hormones, so I will never be done with “those days” unfortunately, until I go into menopause I guess. If that will even help. Maybe that will be worse. But yeah, without BC I am a wreck. I was born with a faulty hormonal balance. Also Grave’s disease. Get with the program, endocrinal system!

    • Oh and I want to add: the birth control and Grave’s disease are all stable, so I’m absolutely fine right now. So no worries. 🙂

      • Wow, that’s a tough break. Glad everything’s stable for now. Another thing that may change your hormonal balance is pregnancy–I used to do BC for the hormonal control too–I had absolutely debilitating cramps for two days straight every month without them, pretty sure it was endometriosis or something similar (never had an official diagnosis–this was before ultrasounds were standard practice for such things). After my first child was born, I’ve never had another day like that, nor have I been on birth control. Not that I’m recommending pregnancy for the sole purpose of treating your symptoms, lol! But, something to potentially look forward to if you ever do decide to have kids. 🙂

  2. This is so beautifully written. I love it that you thought you would have a girl, because I haves always been convinced God only gave tomboys (like me) boys. It makes me grateful for hotly friends, finding treasures in the dirt, and God’s wonderful sense of humor.

    • Ahahahaha! I can’t stop laughing about “hotly friends” lol. I’m grateful for hotly friends too, and I love them every bit as much as the not-hotly ones (whom I am also grateful for). When are you going to bring the children over here again so I can bond with your daughter–though not over her hair (since I clearly have no expertise in that area)–AND your beautiful son? Thanks for posting. I’ve been thinking about you lately. Hope all is well. Love you!

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