Girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. Which, I used to think, would make boys bitter and dull and everything vicious. So when I When I found out I was expecting a mini-person in 2009, I could not help but picture a girl. When I closed my eyes, rubbed the hand that rolled waves from inside my middle, I could only see ribbons and curls, skipping and tea parties, flowers and ladybugs. I was ready to usher Little Miss Fancy into the world and make every day of her existence a testament to the power of gingham sundresses and whimsical hair bows.
The root of my childhood centers around the feminine factor. As one of four girls, our days (after the tree-climbing and dirt-digging) came back to dolls and nail polish, tutus and Disney princesses. We spent Friday evenings huddled on the floor of my grandmother’s living room, surrounded by our elder female blood with their fancy nails and shimmering jewelry. I cannot remember a man there, perhaps because the few husbands and uncles knew well enough to keep their Man Talk in the kitchen. Years of dressing dolls, rose-printed bedding, and ballet recitals instilled in me a loyal female heart.It’s hardly surprising that my entire youth can be chronologically recalled in terms of french braids and frilly outfits.
I can only imagine my own lace-lined upbringing is where the assumption came from that I would have a little lady. By the time we went for that oh-so-telling ultrasound, I had diminished the possibility of having a boy to somewhere around a %1 likelihood.
And in a second the nurse points out a wiener.
And in a few months the doctor flops a slippery, ten-pound HOSS on your chest.
And in a year this mother stares in awe of her grizzly boy and his uncanny talent for wrestling and annihilating things.
It has been a year-and-a-half of learning and transforming, his food-stained fingers peeling my fingers death-gripping etiquette and the color pink. Shortly after our move to a new city, my dad joined us in our tiny guest room we now refer to as The Man Cave or The Dungeon. My powder-ed and hair-sprayed existence has given way to a frat house, and in managing the home of these testosterone-fueled beings I’ve pocketed some serious life lessons.
-There is no exotic scent of Febreze that can overcome the pungent aroma of fresh farts. It lingers and seeps, and if you leave the house for more than an hour you will return with a fresh nose and a certainty that there must be a few dead bodies somewhere in here.
The upside to the manly fragrance is that I am no longer self-conscious about my own bodily odors. I have gone months without wearing perfume, and actually sprayed my spit-up-stained pants with Windex to “freshen up”. IT ALL COMES OUT IN THE WASH, err something!
- There is something to be said for having an unlimited supply of batteries, power tools,shaving cream, recorded news shows as well as a stocked liquor cabinet right under your thumb.
-Insist on watching So You Think You Can Dance enough (particularly when it coincides with major sporting events) and you WILL get your own mini TV for the bedroom.
-You take a compliment where you can get it. Growing up in a Land of Ladies, I was always told I looked pretty, danced gracefully, and had the singing voice of a gold-winged angel. As I got older, I realized these gestures were kind but unfounded. I could run into a 30 foot wall in broad daylight, and my singing voice makes an eardrum bleed. Now that I am fully immersed in a boy-run household, I see the value in a sincere accolade. “This chicken is moist” or “Thanks for washing dishes” translates to “You kind of suck at cooking, but you sure did try real hard!”. “Did you put on makeup today or did the baby smack your face?” translates to “Your cheeks look nice and rosy. I am noticing your physical appearance!”. No needn’t call me darling and flex your brain to woo me. A moist chicken breast is enough of an accomplishment for this old girl.
-Love comes in various gestures which never resemble hugs. My friend was altogether horrified when Baby reached up for me, and rather than hug and cuddle, used one hand to yank my hair and the other to punch me in the nose. Other days he insists on pinching the dog’s eyeballs. I would be worried, but he makes a sweet smile and coos in a high-pitched girly tone to show his affectionate intentions. When Dad and Poppy return home from work, the couch tackling, belly busting sport commences. It could be a sweaty locker room or a gaggle of girls giggling over mani/pedi’s. You see, what looks like physical assault is tender loving in this house.
- Clothing is required, but nobody said it has to be clean! Whereas I used to be a neat freak, I now find myself wiping a snotty nose and spilt coffee with the very same shirt. Again, IT ALL COMES OUT IN THE WASH (note: blood and poop are exceptions….also Mustard, barf, mysterious sewage puddle water, and all things).
-Dainty is what’s wrong with the world. Although my girlish upbringing lent itself to tea parties and ribbon twirling, I’m finding the value in the rough and tumble style that my two and a half men possess. Something about wrestling, burping, and causing a general ruckus is substantially more liberating than dressing a Barbie.
” Boys will be boys isn’t so much an excuse for their behavior as a prediction of it. We spent an afternoon at the park with some friends and their three girls. While the girls sat in the sand and shared toys and bonded in a way that was only missing a few glasses of wine or some chocolate icecream, my sons ran in noisy circles around them, trying to punch each other in the face.
“Wow,” my friend said. “Is that what boys are like?”
“Man. They just…Wow.”
“If it makes you feel any better for me, your kids are going to mutate into teenage girls at some point, and that will make this little melee look like tea with the Queen. The boys are just going to keep hitting eachother. The only thing I have to worry about is fratricide. Your girls are going to run psy-ops campaigns that would make the CIA curl into a fetal ball and cry itself to sleep.”
“Ha, ha-ha, ha.”
You take your victories where you can find them.”
And I’ll take it! The pleasant pace of eat-sleep-rough house-repeat that comes with an all-male territory might lack the frill and pearl I was accustomed to, but it comes with a low-maintenance, easy-going, vivacious spirit that can’t be beat. For all the sugar and spice and everything nice I used to want, I wouldn’t trade this Frat House for anything…except maybe a family pack of Febreze.