March 24, 2009

The Little Boy Bias

What are little boys made of?

Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails

That's what little boys are made of!

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice and all things nice

That's what little girls are made of!

Boy Meets Snail

I was never meant to have a son. Well let me rephrase that, I shouldn't say I was never meant to have a son, of course I was meant to have a son, God and science (and the fact that I eat a crapload of cereal) determined this for me. I just never expected to have a son. I have no idea what to do with little boys. Everywhere in my life girls have been the dominant gender-in my family, in my classes, and even (actually especially) in my work. I have lived a very girl-centric life. Not only that but I have always been a girly- girl. I mean sure, I fish, play cards and drink beer, I hate wearing jewelery and I love men's college basketball, but overall I like things more equated with the fairer sex, like chick lit, manicures, being CLEAN, frilly dresses, makeup, and looking at jewelery (I just hate wearing it- there is no rhyme or reason to being me!). I know nothing about little boys. I babysat one little boy when I was a teenager (yes, just one, I wasn't into little kids and I still feel uncomfortable around any but my own and a few others), and he was a little shit, just horrible. He was mean and pushy and violent and well, just a yucky little boy. I did not like him at all. He reminded me of all the teasing I received at the hands of the little boys I grew up with, and as a chubby little girl with buck teeth and a perm, I received teasing aplenty (thank you Mom and Dad for the braces)!

However, when I was pregnant the first time and I thought about having a little boy, I was very excited. I imagined a little cherub-like boy with chubby cheeks as red as apples and fat thighs on a roly poly baby. I did not imagine that he would grow up one day to be a real boy running around, splashing in puddles and collecting live worms in his pockets (yes that DID happen). I did not imagine birthing a boy who yells and runs and karate chops things with his legs. I would never have conceived in my mind being the mother to a boy whose favorite DVD is Truck Tunes and who collects tools the way I used to collect Barbies. I didn't expect it because it is not what I am used to, was out of my range of familiarity. I knew that having a boy would be different from what I was used to, but I didn't know exactly WHAT to expect, and that worried me.

For a while, though, I had nothing to be concerned about. Drew has been little, smaller than many of his classmates, not very athletic or rambunctious and still seemed, thankfully, like a baby boy (the worm incident withstanding), until this weekend that is. This weekend Drew went to a birthday party for an older friend. That is when I saw my four year old son Drew become my future no-longer-a-cherub-like-roly-poly-baby but-rough-and tumble-big-boy Drew with his friends, yelling and jumping, wearing Batman masks, crawling on the disgusting bowling alley floor (and yes I made him get up) and it hit me. He is a capital B-O-Y boy, and BOY am I in over my head. I look at Drew and I don't know what to do with him. I can't relate to a boy the same way I would to a girl and it scares me. I just worry that he will turn into that little boy I babysat or that bully that terrorized my fifth grade self.

And yet, he's not just any little rugrat, he's my Drew. That boy exudes kindness and gentleness along with his rambunctiousness. No one ever told me that little boys could be so loving and sweet as well as dirty and crazy. Until now I never thought to consider that maybe boys are different from girls in a positive way, a way that challenges who I am, and who I thought I would be. I mean, granted, I am probably never going to get to play "princess" with Drew (or maybe I will, I am okay with that!) but I realize now that is not a bad thing. The truth is I am blessed with my two boys. Now I can finally get the dirt under my nails and learn to let go, and to
go against my grain.

PS- I know that most of what I am saying is reaffirming gender stereotypes, I realize that there are many girls and boys that go against those stereotypes, however I am speaking from the experiences that I have had. Yes I am calling everyone girls and boys because when we become adults we are men and women and adults definitely blur those gender defined roles. Wow, I think I am officially talking out of my ass now!
Photo Credit: Space.boy


  1. That's funny! The rolly polly thing in the pocket my son has done the same thing. He puts EVERYTHING in his pocket. I find rocks ( fossils as would say), tiny pieces of paper, sticks, and not kidding even bugs.
    Happy Tues!

  2. Too funny! I'm the opposite, I never imagined having a girl! I grew up with a brother (five years my junior and I thought I WAS his mom, still do.) I baby-sat one child, the cutest little boy ever (until my own of course)!
    When I was pg the first time, all I wanted was a boy. BAM! A boy! The second time, I assumed it was a boy. Never even crossed my mind that it could be a girl. BAM! A girl. Now I absolutely love having a girl... Weird how things work!

  3. What a fantastic post, Janna! I love the that pic too. Your boys are so cute. :-D

    The topic of infant gender has been on my mind lately. Alex and I would both like one of each, but I imagine I'll feel much like you do if I do end up with one or more boys (pleased but perplexed).

    On the same topic, I've read all sorts of interesting things about gender "selection." Obviously the environment the mother provides has an influence, but it seems the primary decider is the proportion of X:Y sperm available, which is determined by the father's genes. Apparently some men have a gene for mostly Y sperm (and are likely to have all sons), some have a gene for mostly X sperm (and are likely to have all daughters), and some have a gene for equal numbers of X & Y sperm (fair chance of either gender).

    Sorry to babble! I guess I've been reading too many pregnancy articles/books lately.

  4. I used to be scared of having a little girl b/c it might turn out to be a diva who didn't like me, because my friends were all boys growing up. But now, I'll just be happy with whatever we have whenever we start trying!

  5. great post.....I was blessed with 3 boys!!!!! And yes we always found crazy things in the pockets...under the the washer.....hehe but I wouldnt change a thing!!!

  6. I have two boys and three girls, the girls being older than the boys, and let me tell you...being a boy is inbred. Atticus is only two, but he's got the boy thing down pact. Trucks, cars, and balls...he's obsessed over balls..go figure. You need to start a "raising the boy" blog that gives tips and updates on what to expect. I'll sign up yesterday even

  7. Just trying to get the word out but we have reinstated STELLAN's photo gallery (if you were around when it started you may remember it). Anyway... we hope it is an encouragement to MckMama. Head over to this site to read more about it and join in:


  8. gosh! There are so many stereotypes in this blog. I'm horrified ;-) I kid.

    Aren't boys fun though? I always said I wanted to have one child- a boy and luckily that's how things worked out :-)

    I'm not very girly girly so I would have strugged with hair bows and tutus, etc. (not to stereotype) :D

  9. I totally hear you. I have a son and I don't know enough about trucks to answer all his 1,000 questions about them. I doesn't occur to me to go looking for bugs. I don't need to do karate chops all the time. I have no desire to watch Batman. I see no need for more than 2 or 3 tiny cars. It is a strange world of these boys -- but, like you, I love the sensitive loving boy I have -- and I'm enjoying seeing the B.O.Y. in him come out -- even if it scares me a little!

    Great post.

  10. Haha, I want ONLY boys!! 5 of them at that. I better get moving... ;)

  11. Yea! I won the stupid contest! Thanks for the headline!

    Okay, I have one of each and there is NO doubt that boys and girls are different.

    In a good way.

    I love having one of each. And so does my husband. It's a good balance.

    My son still snuggles when he is not throwing himself on the floor just cause he can and my little girl wears frilly pink dresses and loves to dig for worms and bugs. They're great. Just right in my book.

    Looking forward to seeing what your husband has to say :) Will he be serving moldy pancakes?

  12. I love that picture! I can't wait to have a little boy of my own one day :) I relate to them so much more than little girls! (did i just jinx myself?!)

  13. That picture is great!

    He sounds like he is ALL BOY!!!! Enjoy :)

  14. What a WELL written post! I think it helped me better understand my closest friend who has two boys.

  15. Lovely Post! I almost freaked when I found out I was having a son, for a second I was kind of upset. Then, I was reminded how boys always love their mamma! Now, I don't know what I would have done if I had a girl. I'm not your typical froo froo woman so I would have probably turned them into tomboys lol



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