No. 9 – On having boys

It was an innocent enough question I suppose, but maybe it was because I’d been asked it so many times recently that I paused for a moment before replying. “Were you hoping for a girl third time around then?” I held her gaze for a moment, this lady who’d stopped me on the way out of Tesco to look at my baby singing away in his sling, and trying to keep my voice calm, said, “no, we weren’t trying for anything actually, this one just happened”. I grabbed the biggest two and flounced off, giving it my best huff as I walked, which wasn’t all that impressive given I was laden down with shopping.

“I’d like a glass of champagne please, and to be moved to another seat!”

Seriously, if I had £1 for every time I’d been asked that question in the past 8 months, I’d be rich enough to buy you all a posh coffee from Starbucks. Same goes for the pitying glances I get when shepherding my unruly mob down the street, and the looks of panic when we enter a restaurant. This happens infrequently now, as we are becoming more cafe going people (less potential breakages on the whole in cafes than in restaurants!). I remember one time when we were still a family of 4, and the boys were 6 and 18 months old and we were sat in our seats on a plane waiting to depart. An elderly gentleman had the seat next to me and the 18 month old, and as he sat down he gestured to the air stewardess. “I’d like a glass of champagne please, and to be moved to another seat!” What it is about small boys that puts the fear of God into some people, and why do others feel the need to point out that I have 3 boys and no girls, and question whether I’m ok with that?

Never in a million years did I imagine I’d have 3 boys. When I was growing up I always assumed I’d have a large ish family, coming from a family of 5 children myself. Big families were where it was at for me; lots of playmates, noise, always something going on, a bright green minibus as a family car. No, maybe not that last one, but still, I assumed I’d have 3 or 4 children and at least one of each gender. We didn’t find out the gender of the first two at our scans, but I was sure my eldest was a boy. I wasn’t sure with the second one, but there was no disappointment when he popped out as a boy.

Third time around we were having some extra tests so found the gender out really early at 13 weeks, but this news came along with confirmation of no chromosomal abnormalities, so it was kind of a side issue really, as our main concern was that the baby was healthy. In hindsight, I’m glad we found out early, despite having to go through all the stressful tests, because it gave us chance to reflect that he was ANOTHER boy, and avoid any potential gender disappointment at his birth. I still wonder now whether I’d have been secretly gutted if I’d not known in advance. It also gave us time to prepare the grandparents for yet another blue one!

So, here I am, unexpectedly mum to 3 boys. I thought I’d share with you some of the things I now know about being a boy-mum, in case you are about to become one yourself, or always wondered what boy-mums have to go through.

*Get ready for lots of generalisations!

1) They are a little bit like dogs. They love sticks, need regular exercise, and eat like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously, my eldest two cannot walk more than 5 yards without picking up a stick, which soon becomes various weapons, a wand, ‘expelliarmus’, and a thing to poke into mud and puddles. Then we have the arguments when we get home about keeping the stick, because it’s a ‘special stick’. What?! Tomorrow you can pick up another one you weird little creatures. Our front garden hedge has various sticks wedged into it, saved for another day. Same goes for stones. And feathers.

On the exercise thing, they simply cannot sit still for more than 30 minutes without a mad explosion of energy involving clambering over furniture or each other, wrestling, rolling about the floor making blasting noises, or thundering up and down stairs.

Rainy days are a nightmare, so we brave playcentres, Decathlon, Tesco, or if feeling very desperate, Meadowhall, anywhere they can stretch their legs and get rid of some energy. I’ve already discussed the appetites of my eldest two at some length in a previous post, and slowly but surely the baby seems to be taking the lead from his brothers and turning into an eating machine. A typical days eating looks a bit like this:

  • 7am – breakfast (at the latest, as they’ve been up since 6am)
  • 7.20am – first snack request, try to ward them off
  • 9am – give in to snack requests as they are hanging off my legs
  • 11am – begging for lunch as “I’ve not eaten for hours and hours”
  • 1pm – lunch number 2

You get the idea? I had a scary moment the other day when I realised I’d have a 16 year old, 11 year old and 8 year old in a few years, so I can only imagine the amount of food we’ll go through. I’ll need industrial sized saucepans and will be food shopping every day – help!

One of my most used phrases is “please boys, please…just shut up!”

2) The noise – it’s constant. A never ending sound wave emits from them, ranging from a low murmur  (always makes me suspicious- what are they planning?) to a deafening shout and back again, hundreds of times a day. One of my most used phrases is “please boys, please…just shut up!”, and I often don’t say it that nicely either. And each boy, it seems, is progressively louder than his older brother. My eldest is the quietest, the middle one beats him for noise any day of the week, and just to make himself heard I think, the baby has developed a shrill shriek which causes heads to turn from far away. When they are all in the same room together, I regularly busy myself in another room, or suggest they go and find Daddy (who is usually having some peace on the toilet with a book), or resort to the TV. Which works for all of 10 minutes before they are arguing about whether to watch Blaze and the Monster Machines or The Magic School Bus. It’s probably a sad reflection on my life that I choose to go grocery shopping in person rather than doing online deliveries. But I do it child free, and it’s oh so wonderfully quiet!

3) The cars, trucks, diggers, trains etc– They are obsessed.  End of. Any vehicle will do for my lot. “Oh look mum, there’s a Mustang”. I don’t care!! Many a quick nip to the shops or bank has turned into an epic drawn out mission just because we happened to walk past some roadworks and had to stand and admire the machines in all their glory. 

Even if the workmen are not working, we just have to stop and stare and discuss in great detail the size of the wheels and the width of the digger shovel. Plus woe betide me if I use the wrong name for a vehicle. I never knew that there were so many that basically look like a lorry to me, but can be categorised by small boys into lots of different groups.

Our house is full of little cars. You can’t walk across the floor without kicking one spinning into a cupboard. When you’ve done that for the fifth time in a morning, the sound gets extremely bloody annoying. And anything can be used as a car. If we confiscate all of their cars (happens about once a month for them being little shits), they simply turn other household objects into cars to carry on their games. A hairbrush, a spoon, a paperclip – anything will do for them to lay on the floor with their bums in the air, driving along an imaginary road making brumming noises.

Food, drink, wrestle, sleep.

4) Without wishing to generalise too much, boys are simple little creatures. There’s (usually) no dramas about getting dressed. Just pants, socks, jeans, jumper and we’re ready to go and out of the door. No faffing about with hair, accessories or any of that rubbish, plus they only have two pairs of shoes each – boots and trainers and that’s it. Simples! Their needs seem to be pretty basic so far too. Food, drink, wrestle, sleep. I’m burying my head in the sand about the prospect of having 3 teenage boys in the house however! Friendships are simple too. They don’t seem to fall out in the same way I hear of their female peers doing and their friendships don’t appear to be so intense. This all makes for a happy boy-mama!

5) Even though I have 3 boys, they are, after all, three individual little creatures. We didn’t make identical boys, in personality at least. The eldest is sensitive, shy, caring and academic, but is prone to emotional outbursts every now and then. The middle one is outgoing, sporty, a risk taker and a fiercely independent spirit who challenges rules constantly with everything he does. And the baby? It’s too soon to tell, but I think he’ll be most like my wild middle child whom he is fascinated by. He adores his eldest brother, beams and reaches for him whenever he comes into the room, whereas he watches and learns from the middle one. Give them a year and the smallest two will be running the show and I’ll have a full head of grey hair from their exploits.

So, to everyone who shoots me a sympathetic look as I’m manhandling the boys down the street, I’m more than happy with my lot, thank you! Yes, I know that eventually my boys will leave me for their girlfriends, or boyfriends, or to travel, explore and spread their manly wings. And after years of picking up little boys’ pants off bedroom floors, debating the merits of Superman versus Spiderman, clearing my front garden of ‘special sticks’ and putting the toilet seat back down, I’ll happily wave them off into the sunset.

My boys, my loves, my life x

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