"What's it like having boys?"
It's a question I'm asked a lot. I should point out, I only have two children. It's not like I'm raising a rugby team. But in my family where girls tip the scales, having two boys and no girls is a novelty. And my friends and acquaintances, well they probably think I'd hoped for at least one girl - I have the 'girliest' job ever - editor of the largest beauty website in New Zealand, but in my house, that's about as exciting as being an accountant.
All the parenting books say boys need raising differently to girls. Well I can't compare raising boys to raising girls - I know nothing of the latter, and to be honest, the thought of raising anything scares the bejesus out of me.
But here's some of the things I think about having sons.
1. I'm so ruining them for their future spouse.
Ladies you know the demon to whom you will never be good enough for her son? One day that will be you. And here's the thing - being married to a mummy's boy is like having another child. But when you have your own son, you want them to be mummy's boys. And so the circle perpetuates.
2. You should tell your boys they are beautiful.
Everyone says a newborn baby, regardless of gender, is beautiful. But I get repeatedly told not to call 3.5 year old Milky Chops, beautiful. 'Call him cute or handsome'. Well let me tell you - those gorgeous curls, that button nose, them grey-blue eyes, the little pot belly. They are simply beautiful. Beauty has no gender.
3. Don't assign Dad the 'boy' tasks.
Learn to build a kick ass train track, learn to pump up a bike tyre, learn to drop kick a ball. There will be days when Dad isn't around. Likewise teach them to cook, encourage them to help you clean and put things away. If they want to learn to knit, teach them. If they want to do ballet, let them. Don't perpetuate the standard of men's tasks and women's work. Of boy's toys and girl's games - we want our boys to appreciate gender equality. Show them.
4. Long hair isn't girly.
But don't be surprised or insulted when you're told what gorgeous curls your daughter has. Milky has had one hair cut ever, and that was about 0.5cm to take the frizz off. He loves his hair, it's his thang!
5. Don't put yourself, or other women down in front of them.
You are shaping their expectations and opinions on women. Me saying 'don't show mama's fat belly' when he lifts my top in public will only make him think - fat isn't good. Fat shouldn't be shown. Mamas shouldn't be fat. Teach him to see the beauty in others and he'll make the world feel more beautiful.
6. Big boys do cry. And it's a bloody good thing.
I've never used the words 'boys/big boys don't cry'. Why? Because we're always moaning our menfolk are crap at emotions. Our menfolk are a nightmare to get to the doctors. Our menfolk don't express themselves. Well maybe if they'd been encouraged to cry as kids, instead of being told to 'stop being a girl', we wouldn't be dealing with a generation of the emotionally inept.
They're very much there from day one. I've been peed on from a distance. Oh, and I had to be told to 'point it down' when putting a nappy on. And it erm, works from day one.
8. Boys like dolls.
Milky loves Dolly (it's so creepy thing - it has a heart beat and breathes) and even though they're selling for like $150 used on Trade Me right now, I could never trade her in for a more 'manly' toy as The Husband suggested. Besides, boys that play baby are learning to be good caregivers!
9. They like makeup too.
And no, it won't make them gay. And even if it could, so what? They'd be gay and look fabulous. Let them explore things - kids do not think in terms of gender, it's one of the reasons they're so freaking cool. And god, can you imagine if one of mine becomes the next Wayne Goss? Mama gonna be looking fine in her old age.
10. Teach them to respect themselves and they'll respect others.
This one is genderless. Don't be telling me you'll be waiting with a shotgun when one of my boys comes to pick up your daughter for a date. Don't put all the responsibility of respect on boys - you are doing your daughters a disservice. Why don't we all teach our children to love and respect the people they meet, including themselves, that way we'll all sleep easy right?
Whether you're raising boys or girls, mama deserves a treat. I recommend the Great Ball Box - which is actually amazing for women of any age!