15 Rules for Raising Sons

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1.
Teach him to put the damn seat down on the toilet. Don’t drop it with a bang. Gently put it down. (After he’s taken a piece of TP and wiped his up his dribble.) Better yet, never teach him to stand to pee. 

2. Let him play video games. This will help him get out his aggression without actually killing anyone. Plus, it teaches him good hand/eye coordination for someday when he’s “My son, the surgeon.”

3. Teach him to scratch and/or adjust his balls in private – and NEVER with a fork.

4. Teach him that relationships are important and he needs to be faithful and monogamous. Teach him that sometimes relationships suck and require work. They’re not always “fun” and there are times it will seem easier to cut and run than stay and do some hard work. Teach him that he signed up for this and unless his partner is beating the shit out of him (physically and/or emotionally) he needs to stay and figure it out. Remind him too that when he was in high school you taught him what a skank was so that when he’s pushing 50, fat and bald, he’ll know the 20 something skank making eyes at him is only hoping he has a wallet as fat as his belly and he should go home now to his loving wife.

5. Give him a baby name book and help him make a list starting now. Little girls everywhere are doing it and maybe it if we start our sons now we can avoid disaster names like Pilot Inspektor and Blue.

6. Teach your son it’s OK to cry, but only if he’s really hurt. Right now my 7 year old is so “in touch” with his sensitive side it’s all I can do not to call him “cry baby.” The boy cried today because he lost a Beyblades match! I really need to see blood if I’m going to see tears or I fear for his future.

7. Give him a box of Legos and take away the “instructions.” Let him build whatever he can come up with. Let him get creative and crazy. Encourage him to use every Lego piece he has so you won’t step on another one again in your bare feet.

8. Teach him what a skank is so he’ll never bring one home.

9. Teach him how to vacuum, dust and do the dishes. He will thank you someday, because we all know there is nothing hotter than a man doing housework.

10. Teach him to use a tissue. Every time you pull up to a red light what do you see? A grown man digging for gold…i.e., boogers. Obviously, his mother never taught him to use a tissue. Disgusting.

11. Teach your son to NEVER rub one out in public. He needs to keep his visits to his “wonderland” in his own bedroom.

12. Teach your son to never snap a girl’s bra strap. For one, it’s rude and disrespectful to the girls and for another, in this day and age it can be called sexual harassment and your son could be expelled or worse.

13. Teach your son to be funny. Even if he’s a dork, the funniest one is always king of the dorks. There’s nothing sexier than a man with a sense of humor.

14Let him to dance in a pink tutu. If he wants to wear a tutu and carry a sword let him. Either he’ll grow out of it or he’ll never struggle with his identity.

15. Don’t ever let him be the “Bachelor” or on any other dumb reality show. Those guys are always douche canoes.

Cluelessly Mothering Boys

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As a young girl, I dreamed I’d someday be the mother of two demure daughters. I’d dress them in pink Polly Flinders dresses, white tights and black patent leather shoes. Quietly they’d play for hours, my two little angels, with Dressy Bessy and Mrs. Beasley. In my fantasy, we’d shop for the Barbie Townhouse, sell Girl Scout cookies, discuss Nancy Drew mysteries and debate which Hardy boy, Frank or Joe, was the cutest.

But then I gave birth to three boys.

I’ll be honest, my romantic childhood fantasies of motherhood never included:

Buying Shout, Gatorade, and Goober by the case.
Falling into the toilet bowl…repeatedly.
Washing urine off the walls, seriously guys, still?
Stepping on piles of seemingly innocuous, yet unimaginably painful teeny, tiny Lego pieces.
Yep, just one outfit needed.

However, I have learned there are definite advantages to only having boys:

I never have leftovers.
No one begs to wear a shirt that shows his belly.
Packing for summer camp is a breeze: they wear the same clothes every single day.
I never have to deal with the chaos in boys’ locker rooms.
And when friends come to my not-so-perfect house, I can shrug my shoulders, toss up my hands and say, “Well, you know, I live with three boys and a St. Bernard. Whaddya expect?”
But don’t be fooled by the glamorous picture I have painted. Being a single mother of three boys has its challenges, too. Underwear issues continue to be a struggle.

Early on, the boys got in the habit of hanging around the house naked. They’d jump up and down for hours playing Wii tennis, completely in the nude. They’d plop their bare fannies on the kitchen stools and ask, “Hey! What’s for food?” Mesmerized by cartoons on TV, they’d unknowingly stand with their backsides in the picture window, rocking side to side, as cars whizzed by. Finally I laid down the law: “No underwear, no Wii.” “No underwear, no tree-climbing.” “No underwear, no zip line.”

When my youngest attended a week of summer day camp, we discussed the importance of coming home in his own underwear, not someone else’s. It seems boys in a hurry claim the closest pair on the floor. Today that same child will still bring home wet, orphaned underwear he finds in locker rooms, at sleepovers or worse, waterparks. He clearly has a heart of gold, but I just can’t take in any more strays.

When my middle son was 9, he wanted a pair of Under Armour brand underwear for basketball. I learned these were basically Spanx for boys to hold everything together. And since I don’t like to jiggle either, I was on board.

After the purchase, he proudly modeled the tight shorts and announced, “Check it out…there’s a pocket– right here in the front!” And as he said it, he shoved his hand deep into the pocket, and like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat, revealed a semi-melted Chapstick and said “Tah- dah!” I was impressed and added, “Since your basketball shorts have no pockets, you could keep a couple bucks down there, too.”

My youngest weighed in, “Yeah, but wouldn’t that be weird to be at, like McDonald’s, and be 50 cents short for your fries, and then say, ‘Hold on, I’ve got 2 more quarters in my underwear? I’ve just gotta dig for it?’”

“Oh. My. God!” roared my 12-year-old from the other room. “You guys are such idiots! The pocket is for a cup, you dorks, a cup for your nuts, your balls, the jewels, ya know?” Wow – a cup just never crossed this single mom’s mind.

For soccer, my son needed a pair of compression shorts – which are basically super tight underwear. At the store without my glasses, I asked for help from a gangly teen who wore his pants so low his Batman boxers were visible to the whole store.

“How do I know which pair he needs?” I asked. “Well,” Boy Wonderwear briefed me, “these compression shorts are designed for protection and sized for a guy that needs a six inch or a nine inch.”

“Oh,” I stammered, “I, um, have no idea. He’s in 4th grade. A big kid – just moved into the husky sizes. But…. six or nine inches…I mean, I know it’s been a while since I’ve seen a live one, but–”

“Ma’am,” said Captain Underpants, “I’m referring to the inseam. Six or nine inch inseam.”

Oh.

No doubt raising three boys as a single mom has it challenges, but to my surprise, I think I have the overall advantage. The truth is, as the mother of three boys, I feel blessed to only have to worry about three penises in the world. Mothers of girls need to worry about ALL the penises in the world. So buying Goober by the case doesn’t seem so bad after all.

20 Ways to Get Boys Away From Video Games

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I have a love-hate relationship with video games. Love: They improve hand-eye coordination, teach strategy, and keep my boys out of my hair. Think about a plane trip with two boys and no video games – I felt the shiver that just went down your spine. Hate: The glazed look in the eyes of a boy who’s been vaporizing aliens all morning. Whither my sweet, intelligent, enthusiastic boy? And who left this incoherent, complaining pile of irritating human in my house?

When you’re a mom in 2013, video games are all but unavoidable, and boys get hooked on gaming faster and harder than girls. But there comes a point when enough is enough and you need your boys back in the real world. Here are 20 things my boys usually find more interesting than video games. No guarantees, but they’ve worked for me.

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1. Hire them. My younger son is surprisingly motivated by paying work. You can pay your kids to weed the garden, organize the DVD shelf, match plastic containers to lids – all the crap we grownups hate to do.

2. Look at pictures. My kids find their baby pictures infinitely fascinating. They also find fascinating the photos of Grandma before her nose job and me in my 7th grade “aren’t perms cool?” phase. (Consider hiding circumcision pictures, however.)

3. Bake something. Whether you’re making chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or pie, kids will be happy to help. You’ll have to clean flour and butter out of your navel (and theirs) and deal with the sugar rush, but the process is fun.

4. Do something messy. Whipped cream, shaving cream, mud – let ‘em squirt and slather. Of course, this works best when outdoor space is available for the subsequent hose-down.

5. Find a friend. One boy banned from video games is a whining ball of intolerable. Two boys banned from video games can usually come up with something interesting to do. Just make sure they can’t get into your underwear drawer or your liquor cabinet.

6. Paint a wall. All boys dig the Tom Sawyer thing.

7. Turn on the hose. You’ll be sacrificing your water bill for your sanity, but some days it’s worth it.

8. Dig a hole (you decide where). When they’re done, plant a tree. Drop in their Gameboys while you’re at it. Instant reduction of video game availability.

9. Leave the house. Take them to the grocery store. Whoever correctly identifies the most vegetables earns an extra half-hour of video games the following day. The loser(s) have to make dinner.

10. Hold a contest. Brothers have been pitted against each other from biblical times. Hide the swords and encourage a little sibling rivalry. I always like a good “Who
can get ALL their pee in the toilet?” contest.

11. Pillows. Throw every pillow you can find on the floor and see what happens. Warning: may end with a visit to the nearest emergency room.

12. Balloons. We once planned a birthday party for 50 preschoolers. It rained and ruined our backyard plans. We cleared the furniture, blew up 400 balloons, and bought several gallons of tequila. Instant party.

13. Make a video. Hand over a camera and tell your kid to channel his inner Scorcese. Again, ensure the little filmmakers do not have access to your underwear drawers. Plan a family film festival where everyone sits down to watch the clips.

14. Lemonade stand. If you like your neighbors, you make the lemonade. If your neighbors bug you, let your kids make the lemonade.

15. Make dinner. Slave labor at its finest. They can tear lettuce, roll meatballs, whisk salad dressing, cut fruit, and set the table. This only works if your tolerance for boogers in your food is fairly high.

16. Do laundry. Boys like machines. Including washing machines and dryers. Don’t expect much in the folding department. Do expect flying socks. Be prepared for questions about why your panties are so HUGE.

17. Wash the car. Wet sponges + buckets of soapy water = boy heaven. Tell them it’s good practice for when they’re teenagers with rippling pecs and washboard abs. Then they can wash the car in the front yard without a shirt on to get the neighbor girls’ attention.

18. Plant a garden. Sit and sip a margarita while they rake, hoe, dig and water. Save your energy for the following month, when the garden will need weeding and the boys are nowhere to be found.

19. Do a good deed. Send them over to rake your elderly neighbor’s leaves or take in his trash cans. Just make sure you choose a neighbor who can see well enough to tell the difference between your kid and a burglar.

20. “Because I said so.” Actually, you might want to start with this one. Works every time.

The 10 Best Things About Having All Boys

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The 10 Best Things About Having All Boys

“I only want girls, because boys always leave their mothers.”
“I don’t want to have a third, because I don’t want three boys.”
“We want to find out what we’re having because we just want to make sure it’s not a boy.”

This is only a small sampling of the tactless verbal diarrhea I’m privy to on a daily basis.

Granted, there may be a peculiar sadness that comes from longing for the daughter you don’t have. But I’m here to let you in on a little secret—how freakin’ fun it is to raise little boys.

Now before you get your Cinderella panties in a bunch—I know. Not ALL boys like trucks and not ALL girls want to be princesses. But trust me when I say—this gender stuff is real. And boys will be boys. I know. I have three of them.

And here’s why I love it…

1. The toys are cooler. At a recent preschool pickup, a couple of my son’s female classmates approached to tell me something nonsensical about a princess and a castle and a fairy and I don’t know what the hell else. I tuned out after five frilly seconds. My son ran to my side, exclaiming that he saw SIX tow trucks, TWO ambulances, and THREE fire trucks—all from the school window that day. Now that’s cool. Or at least real.

Trucks, trains, buses, and planes exist. We can spend hours on the weekend trolling the surrounding neighborhoods for construction sites—hours of entertainment. Seen any princesses or unicorns lately? Didn’t think so.

2. Getting out of the house is easier. No hair styling. No tights. No braids or barrettes. Just pants, shirt, sneakers and you’re off. And (for the most part) they don’t care what the hell they’re wearing. Oh, and each of my kids has only one pair of shoes. One.

3. Public restrooms. Enough said.

4. Even if they’re all the same sex, they’re NOT all the same. Parenting three children of the same gender has given me an even greater appreciation for how distinct their little personalities are. They may all be boys, but they are three totally different people. My oldest is fierce, complicated, creative, intense. He doesn’t like hugs. But he needs companionship and approval. My middle is sensitive, shy, and sweet. He snuggles endlessly. But he’s also independent and stoic. They’re night and day. Fire and ice. The baby? Too soon to tell. Their differences surprise and delight me daily. They help me resist assumptions and generalizations—this article notwithstanding.

5. It’s good to parent someone who’s not like you. It’s a healthy challenge to raise someone different than you. To try to relate. To understand where they’re coming from. Having three boys gets me out of my comfort zone, and out of my head, to embrace a more physical, tactile approach to the world. And notice things I normally wouldn’t. Like the shape of the rocks near the shoreline. Or the number of red pick-up trucks we pass on a drive up the Turnpike.

My boys are mischievous and spirited. Curious and carefree. They are energy and wonder and play. They need to move and do instead of just be. They will not sit still and just talk. Or listen. But boy do they know how to live life out loud. They’re good for me. Type-A, control-freak, over-thinking me!

6. We have each other, we moms of boys. We “like” each other’s Facebook posts. We exchange knowing eye rolls as we run past each other on the street, wrangling our rowdy little dudes. We get it. We are a special breed. There is an unspoken kinship that evolves out of the joyful exhaustion, the ceaseless chase. The guilty twinge of envy when we see pigtails bobbing on the playground, or “It’s a Girl” balloons tied to someone else’s car seat as they leave the hospital. The unfounded, cliché concern that our sweet boys will become smelly teens and then reticent men who never call or need us anymore. The fear of one day being relegated to the dreaded role of…mother-in-law.

7. They can have it all. Or at least have an easier time trying. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think women can’t try to do and have it all—they should. I’ve been there. Done that. Outgrown the (collared) t-shirt. I’ve witnessed firsthand the unparalleled intelligence and efficiency of women who are mothers AND professionals. But I don’t pretend it’s not harder. Would I want my (theoretical) daughter to be a surgeon or a litigator? Not sure. My sons? Go for it.

8. Boys speak their mind. I’ve always preferred the company of men. Their unapologetic honesty, the crude minimalism of their communications, the lovely surprise of their sensitive sides.

Maybe when they’re older, your sons won’t call you daily. But when they do, you’ll get right to the heart of the matter. You won’t have to read between the lines. Have boys. Not bullshit.

9. They love their mamas in a special way. “It’s a simpler love,” the facilitator of a mommy & me class once said, as I cradled my third baby boy and over-shared that while I may hope for a daughter one day, I truly love the relationship I have with my boys.

I’m so proud of the little men I’m raising. Those tall, handsome men-to-be will forever be my sticks-and-mud, fire truck-loving boys. One day, they may be distant and seemingly unapproachable—but not to me. They will tower over and protect their little mama. Maybe they’ll even bend down to give me a hug once in a while.

10. They’re your children, after all. No matter how many of what kind you have, you’ll love them all fiercely, instinctively, and without effort. They will amaze you and delight you. Every single day. And you won’t be able to imagine your family any other way.

Few little girls picture themselves becoming mothers of all boys, but here we are. And we love it.