I was raised as an only child, did little babysitting, and went on to have a lovely daughter early in life (26 passing for early in this day and age). My daughter was much like me and grew and matured in ways that were recognizable from my own childhood experience. Eight years later, when I learned that my second child would be a boy, I panicked. I knew nothing of boys, what they were like or how to raise them. I knew from my mom friends that you needed to place a washcloth down there when you changed their diapers or risk getting a face full of pee, but that was about it.
Almost 12 years later, I’ve picked up a couple of things about boys. They are generally much more active than girls. They prefer chasing zombies to spawning sheep when they play Minecraft. And mine, at least, is obsessed with every sport created by man, along with some that only exist in his head.
However, I am definitely still learning. Recently I have picked up on some troubling changes that I can only attribute to the specter of puberty breathing down our necks. As a public service to other clueless moms with younger boys, I thought I would share these with you:
1. My previously energetic early riser suddenly wants to sleep until noon.
Gone are the days when he would be up at 6 a.m. watching cartoons while he waited for others to get ready for school. Now it takes two verses of “Morning Has Broken” before he even yells at me to get out.
2. He stinks.
Oh, the smells you will smell. One day he went from needing a bath about twice a week to reeking if he doesn’t shower at least twice a day. His bedroom could be declared a Superfund site based only on the smell of the socks drifting under the doorway.
3. He actually cares how he smells.
I never have to remind him to brush his teeth anymore. And last month he asked me if I could buy him some deodorant, which he now wears religiously. If he starts asking for Axe, we’re really getting into areas I’m unprepared for.
4. He wants to eat everything.
My son never had a very big appetite. A couple of chicken strips and all of the candy he could negotiate out of me would get him through a week. Suddenly he needs four snacks to get him from lunch to dinner. As soon as he plows through the bowl of pretzels, he’s back looking for popcorn. And once the popcorn’s gone, he’s wondering if it would be OK to have some pepperoni. Understand, the kid is 75 lbs. soaking wet. Also, I hate the little bastard for his ability to eat without weight gain.
5. Everything I do embarrasses him.
Every move I make. Every breath I take. He will be telling me to stop. Asking for a hug resembles a hostage negotiation.
6. I’m pretty sure all that time he’s ‘playing Minecraft‘ in his room is not spent playing Minecraft.
Since this is too horrifying to even contemplate, let me just say that after a certain age, you should definitely knock before entering your son’s room. Trust me. Certain things once seen cannot be unseen.
I’m sure there are many more surprises ahead of me as my son continues to grow and transform into a teenager. I am almost as terrified about the next few years as I was when I first learned that “it’s a boy!” But I will continue to muddle through. And I will never ever forget to knock.