10 Things Boys Should Know About Being Men



Right now I’m raising boys, but I gotta keep my focus on the big picture, because I’m also helping develop them into men. Men who will be boyfriends and lovers and husbands and fathers and coworkers (or bosses or CEOs or doctors or the President).

There are no shortage of posts containing thoughtful and heartfelt advice from mothers of sons in exactly this scenario. Mothers who want to teach their boys that they can be strong and powerful, yet sensitive and tender. BUT… This isn’t that kind of post. Sure, it’s ten key pieces of advice that I want my boys to know, but this is more practical, less profound. I’ll leave the sappy stuff to a more eloquent blogger. So here they are: 10 things boys should know about being men:

1. You’re supposed to be scented, not suffocating. I’m talking about cologne and body spray. Please, by all means, use it – because it’s far better than Eau de Armpit. But don’t layer it. Don’t bathe in it. Don’t douse yourself with it until people can smell you before you enter a room and for ten minutes after you leave. Smelling great is a definite plus, but making people’s eyes water with a cloud of manliness is not. Use basic hygiene first to make sure you smell good (soap! Toothpaste! Deo-for-your-B.O.!) and use the cologne as a light enhancer, not a funk-cover-upper.

2. Flowers are … okay. It’s nice to bring your significant other some flowers. I never received a bouquet of flowers and threw them down in disgust (and incidentally, if someone ever does that to you, kick that heifer to the curb). HOWEVER, flowers take precisely zero thought. They’re something you can grab at a gas station checkout, for goodness sake. If you really want to make an impact, buy something that shows you know what she enjoys. I’d be a lot more impressed by anything zombie-themed or, like, a six-pack of delicious cupcakes. Which brings me to the next point …

3. Expand your recipe repertoire. Ramen noodles and frozen pizza have their place in life – when you’re in college and broke (and speaking of college, don’t ask me to send you money if you’re gonna spend it on beer). But as you become a man, branch out a little bit. Learn to cook something. It doesn’t have to be beef tenderloin with porcini mushroom and smoked onion saute and a pea salad with creme fraiche and herbs … mmm … wait, what was I saying? Oh yes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, is my point. Have a good recipe for lasagna and some sort of casserole and learn to roast a chicken and bake cookies. (Especially cookies.) It’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely a skill that will serve you well.

4. If it’s overflowing, take care of the problem. If your toilet runneth over, you fix that crap without hesitation, right? Right. So the same should hold true for overflowing trash cans and sinks full of dirty dishes. If you ignore the problem, you’re part of the problem.

5. Be nice to your waiters and customer service people. How you treat the people who are there to help you speaks volumes about, well, whether or not you’re a jerk. Be patient and gracious and if you have a problem, understand that it isn’t their fault. Work with them, not against them, and you’ll get much further. Plus: you won’t be an a-hole, which is pretty much the biggest takeaway from this tip.

6. Hormones, schmormones. Sometimes, women are in a bad mood. Sometimes, there’s very little reason other than a bunch of small back-to-back annoyances. When that happens, you should try to be understanding – and if you can’t be, then just step back and give them some space. What NOT to do is accuse them of PMS’ing or being hormonal. Just … no. While hormones do indeed cause some mood swings at certain times of the month, they are not the cause of every grumpy mood. Women have legit reasons for being pissed off that have absolutely nothing to do with our internal workings – we’re not delicate creatures who are at the mercy of estrogen fluctuations. However, that being said …

7. Periods suck. There’s no two ways about it. I don’t know one single woman – except for those in, like, maxi pad commercials – who is enthusiastic in ANY manner about the monthly visit from Aunt Flo (unless she’s had a pregnancy scare, but even then, the joy is short-lived). So what can you do? Be sympathetic. Be manly enough to buy tampons and Midol, and while you’re at the store, pick up some ice cream. I guarantee you’ll be the biggest baby in the universe when you come down with a case of the sniffles, so remember how nice it is to be taken care of when you’re feeling like crap.

8. Remotes are made to be shared. We all have shows we like to watch. Fine: Watch your shows or your sports or whatever. But if you’re asleep? The remote is fair game. Don’t doze off while clutching it tightly and then snap awake with a testy, “I was watching that!” when someone tries to change the channel. Seriously. When all you’re watching is the back of your eyelids, let someone else have a turn with the TV.

9. Hole-y does not equal holy. You’d think those tattered underwear were priceless relics, the way you cling to them, but seriously: when your boxers or briefs develop more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, it’s time to chuck those babies in the can and purchase some fresh. I mean, there is literally no point to a pair of undies that is essentially nothing more than a waistband with some strips of tattered fabric attached. When your junk is hanging out the front even when you’re not peeing, give them up. New underwear is cheap. Getcha some.

10. No socks while sexin’. I’ve come to the conclusion that most mothers don’t mention this to their sons because they don’t want to think about their darlings doing “the deed,” even when they’re grown men. But I’m putting it out there because it’s important. Do you know how silly – how utterly ridiculous – a man looks when he’s completely naked except for socks?? I don’t care how cold your feet are. If you’re getting ready to “get down,” then please, for the love of all that is sacred: TAKE. THE SOCKS. OFF.

These may not be the wisest, most valuable pieces of life advice my sons ever receive, but they’re important nonetheless. If I can send a few less men out into the world in holey boxers and a cloud of cologne, well, I’ve done something right.

Related post: Your Penis Won’t Fall Off And Other Things Boys Should Know

10 Things Moms of Boys Must Do


If you could see my uterus, it’s probably blue. And has a beard. Why? Because this baby factory only makes boys.

This fact was a little bit of a cosmic joke, because prior to birthing a domain full of dudes (four, to be exact), I was a total girl’s girl. Makeup, exfoliation, perfume, cute shoes. Fruity drinks instead of whiskey shots. Risk breaking a nail? No thank you. Bugs and worms: ewwwwww.

But being the mother of a male – whether one or many – changes you. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your girly ways (in fact, it’s probably more necessary than ever to preserve at least some of them), but parenting someone of the opposite sex can bring challenges that you’ve just got to adapt to.

So if you’re pregnant with a baby boy, know someone who is, or have a very young boy that’s still more babyish than boyish, I’ve compiled a list of helpful prerequisites to being a boy’s mom.

You’re welcome.

1. You must love bath time. And by “bath time” I don’t mean you yourself sitting there in a candle-lit bathroom with an inflatable pillow and a tub full of luxurious rose-scented suds. I mean you must love giving baths, because boys require a lot of them. You must be prepared for drenching splashes, a wet-dog smell, a soaked floor, and tons of dirty towels. Same when they get old enough to take a shower by themselves – except then, there’s the added “bonus” of the wet-dog smell lingering after they’re done, even though the body wash is disappearing like they’re eating it. Unless you stand at the door and remind them twenty times to use soap … everywhere!


(PS – don’t buy expensive body wash.)

2. You must think farts are funny. By the grace of God, I was born with this toilet-humor-loving trait, so I have had a pretty easy time dealing with this aspect. Boys think farts are funny: period. And the way you handle that can determine your stress level. If you laugh with them, you’ll all benefit. If you try to get them to stop laughing about it, it will only make things worse. Just stress that there are appropriate times and places to let one rip (i.e., not during the silent part of church or while eating at a restaurant) and you’ll be good to go. Even if you personally don’t find farts humorous (in which case, I’m wondering why you’re on my blog), you have to learn to tolerate those who do. Because there’ll be a lot of that going on.

3. You must be prepared for constant - CONSTANT - battle with the toilet. From the time I found out I was expecting my first boy, I was dead-set on one thing: teaching him to use the toilet properly. You know, putting the seat down and stuff. Common courtesy. I have always been a straight-up dictator diligent with my sons when it comes to that, because one of my fears is that they grow up to be men who don’t put the seat down. Ick. But despite my best efforts, there’s always something. One remembers to put the seat down, but not to flush. One remembers to flush, but doesn’t close the lid. One leaves toilet paper in weird places, like hanging out of the bowl or on the floor (WTF?). And they all sprinkle when they tinkle. I am forever reminding them to aim! Flush! Put the seat down! Close the lid! And then to add insult to injury, I have to clean it. It’s seriously exhausting to keep a clean toilet when there’s a boy (or a few) using it.

4. You must rethink your standards of “safety.” Okay, nobody call child protective services on me – I’m not talking about letting your kids ride without a car seat or letting them play with a lighter. But think about the mom you know (and we all know at least one) who sterilizes her kid’s pacifiers and bottles religiously. The mom who hovers endlessly and gasps loudly when her precious snowflake takes a teensy-weensy tumble. You know that mom? Yeah. You can’t be that mom when you have a boy, because boys are just rough. They jump off of things and slide down things and climb up things and roll and tumble and tackle and leap and pounce and run. ALL THE TIME. They taste dirt and kitty litter and glue and hardened gum from beneath park benches and restaurant tables just out of curiosity (I mean, one of my boys ate candy that had been peed on). They try to ride their bikes, scooters, and skateboards faster than everyone else … and try to out-jump everyone else on trampolines. And if you’ve got multiple boys? Fuhgeddaboutit. They do all that plus wrestle, and occasionally get into full-blown knock-down drag-out fights.


Just stock up on Band-Aids and look the other way for a little bit. For your own sanity.

5. You must not be surprised at drama. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “Oh, you’re so lucky – boys are way less dramatic than girls.” … Really? Because my boys are as dramatic as they come. There is plenty of stomping, eye rolling, sobbing, shouting, door slamming, and general sassiness going on around this place. I don’t know why everybody thinks boys are naturally easy-going, respectful, agreeable creatures. It must be because my sons’ dramatic outbursts are over “legit” things … like me not letting them use my good earphones, or getting relegated to “Player 2″ on the XBox. Right? Recently, my eight-year-old “hated this house and all his brothers” after a burping contest escalated. And after tripping over his shoelace, my Kindergartner flattened himself out on the floor and wailed, complete with tears, “This world is too dangerous for someone like meeeeeee!”

Don’t ever let someone tell you that you’re lucky because boys aren’t dramatic. Seriously. They have no idea.

6. You must be prepared for messes. Sometimes I go slightly insane at the condition of my house. But unless you can afford to hire a full-time housekeeper, messes are just something you’ll have to deal with. And I’m not talking about just clutter from toys. No matter how often you yell and threaten tell them, boys are just not that conscientious about tracking in mud, or grass clippings, or getting toothpaste all over the place, or spilling milk and then maaaaybe half-assed wiping it up with, say, the corner of the tablecloth. (And the boys’ toilet? See #3.) Boys will also wipe boogers on walls and carpets and slop food all over the place like pigs at a trough. This isn’t due to lack of coaching; trust me, I feel like I spend 75% of my waking moments preaching about keeping things neat and tidy. (I spend the other 25% cleaning up the messes that result when my preaching goes in one ear and out the other.)


All of this intensifies with multiple boys and/or a visit from multiple friends. Which brings us to the next prerequisite …

7. You must have a lot of food on hand at all times. I was so fooled by this one. Because when your kids are really little, they eat virtually nothing, and you think, “I sure am glad my kids aren’t big eaters!” And then they get to this stage where – holy crap – did he just inhale those scrambled eggs? My tiny, twig-like eight-year-old will annihilate a man-sized portion of breakfast and complain that he’s still hungry. And they always. Want. To snack. My refrigerator opens every five minutes when the kids are home. (And in between those five-minute spans, they’re raiding the cabinets.) We spend enough at the grocery store every month to make me feel faint in the checkout line, and we still run out. These little eating machines are like a pack of hungry locusts – and when one has something, they ALL want their own. I can’t wait until they’re all teenagers!*

*Note the sarcasm. I can totally wait. I need time to find a few more jobs and take out a second mortgage so we can almost afford the grocery bill.

8. You must be prepared to go through LOTS. And LOTS. Of JEANS. I have written several blog posts about this very subject because seriously? Four boys later and I am still utterly astonished at how fast they can ruin a seemingly-sturdy pair. Denim is supposed to be this rugged fabric, and it may work for lumberjacks, but it’s no match for the crawling, scraping, staining, and scooting of little boys. I find this ironic, though, because …

9. You must be cool with nudity. I don’t know how my boys go through so many pairs of jeans because, hell, it isn’t like they wear them at home. In fact, it isn’t like they wear anything at home. In my experience, from the time they are physically able to remove their own clothing, they will. My boys start stripping down the instant they get home from school. Sometimes they lounge around in their underwear, and sometimes they forego the underwear altogether.


Which brings us to my very last piece of advice …

10. You must get used to “The Grab.” I’m talking about the penis. The wiener. The tallywhacker. The wee-wee, the pee-pee, the goods, whatever term you use. They are going to grab it every chance they get (see #9 for an approximate estimation of just how many chances they get). Your adorable infant son will reach down to grab his as soon as you take his diaper off, and in my nine years of experience mothering boys, it doesn’t stop after that. They’ll pull on it, stretch it, flick it, anywhere, any time they can get access to it. They’ll do it in the bathtub and while watching TV. I have literally been forced to utter the phrase “Stop wrapping your penis around your fork.” They do it in a way someone might, say, bite their nails or twiddle their thumbs: automatically, absentmindedly, innocently, frequently. After a while, you won’t even notice.

… You’ll probably be too busy cleaning up messes or shopping for new jeans.

Related post: The 10 Best Things About Having All Boys

30 Things I’ve Learned in 18 Years of Parenting Boys



I am a mom to all boys. I am thrilled to be their mother and I don’t pretend that I am happy about it while secretly coveting daughters. I would have been happy with all girls, too, or with a mix of girls and boys. I just wanted children, ever since I can remember. Period.

My children are growing up, as children do, no matter how we try to press them down and keep them small by squishing them in tiny beds (like you don’t…). I’ve now entered my 18th year as a mother of all boys, and I’ve kept mental notes along the way of what I’ve learned, the hard way — sometimes the easy way…

1. Teach your boys to respect women and how to treat women. Women on the average are physically smaller and shorter than men, but this is only the physical. Mentally, and person value wise, women are equal to men. It sounds ridiculous to have to teach this, but it’s what we as mothers need to do. I turn off commercials that show women as less than capable or inferior or needy, because actions speak louder than words. I comment on magazine covers or ads that show women feeble and manipulative. I am now the second shortest person in my house, there are three taller than I am, and only the 5th grader has to look up to me when he speaks, but my voice in this house carries weight, because I have never backed down from issues or made myself appear as anything less than physically and mentally able. Is this the first and longest and most run on paragraph in this post? Yes, it is, because this one is the most important of what boys need from their mothers.

2. Some boys will not want to talk as much as you do. Very possibly true. You may feel the need to ask and jump to the emotional right away, they may not. You know your child, his eyes will tell you if he needs some nudging to open up verbally. Otherwise, if they want to be left alone for awhile, oblige and give them that distance. But keep that one eye open, to their hearts, should they start hanging around you like they want to say something.

3. Say nice things to them. They may roll their eyes, but it still sounds like honey on toast. Drop them off at school with a “Knock ‘em dead, handsome,” and a “Whoa! Here’s some sunglasses for those lethal blue eyes!” They’ll think you’re a cornball, but inside, they love to hear someone is that gaga over them.

4. Always always always and always, let them know how glad you are they were born. No matter what. Never say you can’t wait until they’re gone or they move out or leave for college. No matter what the day has been like, NEVER say that.

5. Tell them you love them, and like them. Prescribed dosage is twice a day. For teens, as necessary. Via phone, text, email, notes left on the kitchen table, it all counts.

6. Teach them how to graciously give, and receive, an apology, by modeling it yourself.

7. You are the sentinel at the internet gate. Have your household screens password protected and be the administrator for downloads/uploads on their electronics. Censoring? You bet it is. What they fill their minds with, stays. While you’re in control, plant the seed of a conscience. While you’re censoring, monitor their time on screens with a timer.

8. Remind them that they exist because the world demands their presence in it. Please, take part in your world, children.

9. Be visible in their schools or extra curricular activities. They feel pretty proud when it’s their mom reading in front of the classroom, teaching Sunday school, the one on Friday afternoons teaching JA, the boy scout leader, or the forensics coach. Parents are needed in so many places in and out of school. Don’t let the same ones always be doing the same work, you get on in there. Your boys will beam that it’s you.

10. Find out who their teachers are, the people they eat lunch with, and what they have for homework. Ask them about one of these things, every day.

11. Remind them to wear their seat belt and NEVER to text while driving. Every day, every time they leave. Say, “Please wear your seat belt. Don’t text. It’s safer that way.”

12. Ask them what they’d like more of, from you.

13. Talk to them about drugs, alcohol and sex, even if that’s not your thing. Tell them what drugs do to a young person’s brain and body, tell them what alcohol does to a young person’s brain and body, and tell them what too early sex does to a young person’s heart and soul. Also say, “Just because you’re physically able to do something doesn’t mean you should.”

14. Teach them the difference between assertive and aggressive, by showing them how to ask for things they want. Model the behavior of cooperation seeking, rather than bullying and tell them that asking for something is the best way to get it. Reassure them in their attempts and encourage them to speak up for themselves. You can begin this with their interactions with teachers, and later on when talking for themselves at doctor appointments.

15. Congratulate them on their accomplishments, attempts, grades, projects, events, races, meets, competitions, papers, and debates. Tell them how proud you are, that you see the work they did, and how impressed you are with their dedication and self-direction. Never take the good in them for granted or as a given. Being a kid now is harder than it ever was.

16. Let them know your expectations. Set the bar as one of value, perseverance, effort, and challenge. Share your stories of when you pushed beyond your comfort zone, and how you triumphed, or not. Let them know that it’s in the push that we see the glory. And the glory is in the effort.

17. Teach them what is obvious to you – Do Your Best, Work Your Hardest, and Honor Your Commitments. Then show them.

18. Smile often, and tell them how much you enjoy being their mother. They don’t need to know about the intricacies of your adulthood, and don’t complain to them like they’re your friend out on girls’ night. Just let them know being their mother is the highlight of your life on this planet.

19. Don’t think you don’t matter. OH BOY, you matter. Attend any of their events when you can. When they see your face there, they have to stop themselves from bursting into a full grin. Even if you don’t see it. That’s what I tell myself, “Oh if he could smile that pearly smile right now, he so would.” They’re beaming inside.

20. If they act like they don’t need you, sometimes it’s because they don’t. Not always. Could be. And hard one to call, so take your cue, assess the situation. Look into their eyes and read between the lines of their voices. They’re biologically wired to seek independence and lead, but a well placed, kind, “Just let me know, I’m right here,” is a reassuring encouragement for new endeavors.

21. Boys are the opposite sex of what their moms are. They’re not our carbon copies, remember this when you have times when you can’t understand them. Hormonally and biologically, they’re not female. The hormones testosterone and estrogen have separate purposes.

22. Make your house an emotionally safe, accepting place. Promise them you will always listen, then never break that promise. Whatever they come to you with, zip your lip, and listen. If you want your children to come to you and speak freely and openly, they’ve got to trust you.

23. Make your house a physically safe place. Don’t invite danger in. In all its forms. Watch who you bring into the home, and who you allow into the home. Even if they come with your child.

24. Take a deep breath before reactions. Don’t think parent/child, think human/person to person. This is especially important when they get older. Unless you’re teaching them how to drive and they look like they DON’T EVEN SEE THAT STOP SIGN OMG.

25. Squeeze in the little things they like. Sometimes that means getting up earlier, going to bed later, not finishing that book like you want to, but make the pumpkin bread that he loves in the fall. Fifty minutes of your time, but he smiles when he knows what he sees when he comes home from school. Loving your boys physically, verbally, emotionally, will not make them mama’s boys. It will just make them secure of how they matter in this world.

26. Teach them to value themselves and every bit of themselves. Let them hear you say over and over, “Don’t give yourself away lightly.”

27. Find a common hobby. Bike riding? Walks? Trips to the library? Reading books silently side by side? Looking through cookbooks? Seeing scifi movies together? Watching soccer plays of the week? Tennis at the playground or against the garage door? Community theater? You can find something. Don’t give up.

28. Guide them into independent decision making. Ask them what they think and why. Tell them you trust what they’ll do, and let them own that decision.

29. Teach them to not waste water, use leftover water to water plants, and turn off the shower while you soap up. Give them a conscience about what needs to be treated with wonder and respect.

30. Tell them they can call you anytime, from anywhere, if they find themselves in a place/condition that is not right. You’ll come, no questions asked, you’ll fly there faster than Superman. Stick to that promise.

“Accept your child for who he is, and watch him blossom.” I’ve kept this in my heart, ever since my children were bitty toddlers and I read it in a parenting magazine. I keep those words at the ready, every day, and it’s the filter I speak through.

So much love to all you parents, and all that you do.

Related post: About a Boy

Your Penis Won’t Fall Off And Other Things Boys Should Know


Your Penis Won't Fall Off

My dearest sons,

You know the dangly appendage that occupies your thoughts and/or your hands for a large percentage of the day? Well, as a concerned mother, I feel it’s my duty to enlighten you on the subject of your penis.

Now, never having been in possession of one myself, I can’t be considered an outright expert, but I’d like to think that my experience raising you counts for something. After all, I’ve seen enough nakedness around this piece to rival any nude resort. So, for you, and any other boys out there, here are nine things you should know about your penis.

1. Relax; Your penis won’t fall off.  It will stay right there in your pants (provided you’re wearing any), so you can stop clutching it while you watch TV and falling asleep with it in your fingers. In fact, it will be with you for the rest of your life, so maybe you should think about being a little less rough with it.

2. One exception: Having a firm grip on it is encouraged – and preferred – when using the toilet. It’s floppy, and when you don’t have it under control, you spray like a leaky hose.

3. Keep it in your drawers, ok? (This is a piece of advice that will have a different, but equally significant, meaning during your teen years – so don’t forget it.) There’s really no need to lay it on your brother’s arm. Or dip it in your chocolate milk. Or poke it through the hole of a DVD. Or wrap it around your eating utensils. Or your pencil. Or your brother’s pencil.

4. It might not hurt you when you stretch it out ten miles long like it’s made of rubber, but it hurts me just looking at it, so stop.

5. On rare occasions, you may actually let go of it in order to grasp something else. Like a sandwich, or your brother’s face. In the event of such occasions, hand-washing before you touch anything else is the courteous (and sanitary) thing to do.

6. It’s not the end of the world when it’s facing the wrong way or bunched up in your underwear. No need for a meltdown.

7. It’s handy and portable and all that, but just because you can pee anywhere doesn’t mean you should.

8. If you’re gonna stretch/dangle/pull/twist/twiddle or otherwise manhandle (boy-handle?) it, please do so in your room and spare us all a little awkwardness. Please.

9. I’ve seen it a million times, so there’s no need to waggle it in my direction after your bath, nor make it dance and jump around by thrusting around like Elvis with a hula hoop. (This also goes for your dad, so pass that tidbit along.)

I’m hoping this letter will serve as a handy reference to the proper penile etiquette, and that you’ll start having a little ding-dong dignity.

You’ll thank me later… or at least your wife will.

Lots of love,

Related post: 10 Things Never to Say to a Mom Expecting Another Boy

Cluelessly Mothering Boys


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.”


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


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.


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.

Mama’s Boys

mama-boyLittle boy via Shutterstock

He’s barely awake, his lids still heavy with sleep, but his arms are already reaching for a hug. I happily embrace his warm body and his dreamy smile could melt the sun. “Come on, baby.” I coo. “Time to get up.”

He purrs like a kitten instead of an eleven year-old boy, and when I untangle myself, he automatically protests, “Noo.”

“Uh uh, no more hugs for you,” I affectionately scold, but then relent and give him one more. “Okay, that’s it. Get up.” I shake him till he giggles, then play time is over and I turn to business. “Your clothes are on the floor. Brush your teeth and get downstairs.” I leave him and hope I don’t have to make a trip back up to wake him again.

My six and nine year-olds are already downstairs, dressed, finished with their breakfasts and playing Club Penguin on the computer when my oldest sleepwalks into the kitchen and immediately fastens himself to my side. “Mama.”

I love it, like the sick, needy mother I am, and take a moment to lean my head against his before ushering him into his morning routine.

Occasionally, some person has the nerve to say to me, “Oh you have three boys? You know what that means, right? They leave you.”  I always respond with a smug smile and say, “Not if you do it right.”

While I believe that, their flip comment still touches a nerve, because to some extent of course, it’s true. Boys love their mommies until they get a wife. Boys are so yummy, delicious and full of affection when they are young, but somewhere along the way, they seem to disconnect. No. That will not do at all.

That’s why I have focused on making my boys ‘mama’s boys,’ and they have pretty much towed the line, but the results do vary.

My little one is a wild child, full of love and energy. He plays the baby – even if he really isn’t one anymore – still preferring mommy’s company to any other. Score! My middle son has got the most spunk and fight in him, but he’s also a clingy little monkey around his mommy’s neck. Score!

But my oldest has by far exceeded my mama boy hopes and dreams. A sentimentalist at heart, wistful at six for who he was at five, he is openly expressive with his emotions and affections and really, really, really loves his mommy. Home run!

Sometimes I worry a little that I’m ruining my boys for all the girls, but, only a little. Because, we all know that the best men are the ones who love and respect their mothers. Eventually, poo poo (sorry it’s the future Jewish grandma in me) my mama’s boys will grow up and leave to have their families of their own.

While I sort of dread the day when my reign comes to a close, I will quietly – although it will be hard to muffle all of my sobbing – step back and do my best to win over their significant others. Really, what else can I do?

Often at the end the day, my oldest son gets off the school bus and runs straight to me, wrapping his arms around me and says, “It’s been six hours since I hugged my mommy.”

My other boys, their competitive natures roused, jump in for the hug.

Oh these boys are going to break my heart.


25 Ways You Know You Have a Boy



1. You find yourself willingly holding a living creature that you would usually run away from screaming.

2. A girl makes eyes at your son and you have this weird urge to pull her aside and call her a “slut” (whether she’s 6 or 16).

3. You have an unhealthy knowledge of the point/gem system for Temple Run, Dragonvale, Bakugan, Plants vs. Zombies, Cube Runner …

4. You can’t muster the brain power to recall what you ate for breakfast, yet you can inherently transform a Transformer (without the 30 pages of directions it came with).

5. You bought a car based solely on how much equipment you could fit in the trunk.

6. Your child asks you to marry him and you’re totally considering it.

7. You know what a Ripstik is and you’re not afraid to use it.

8. You spend much of your days in a fog of fart odor and some of it is proudly yours. (What? How else can you impress your male offspring?)

9. A little penis seems to be constantly whizzing by (well, let’s hope that’s your sons).

10. You’ve actually placed yourself under a tree with the feeling that, if that kiddo loses footing you’ll at least be there to break his fall.

11. You know the pain of stepping on a Lego … and may in fact, have one imbedded somewhere in your body right now.

12. There’s a finger in your eye, your ear, or up your nose and it’s not yours.

13. You understand what I mean when I say “bleacher butt,” as in, “My sits bones are literally numb, I have bleacher butt.”

14. There’s a rogue Bey Blade in your purse.

15. You’ve found yourself saying things like, “No, you can’t ride the dog.” and “Yes, you do have to keep your pants on in public.”

16. You’ve had in depth conversations about who would win in multiple variations of match-ups involving Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, X-Men, Daddy …

17. You can’t wait until he’s old enough to watch Airplane, The Naked Gun, Caddy Shack, Vacation, Fletch, The Three Amigos…

18. Though you claim to be an absolute pacifist, you’ve had a talk that involved you urging, “Sometimes you gotta push back.”

19. You’ve considered leashing your son at a theme park and he’s 12.

20. You’re on a first name basis with the orderlies at the ER who provide slings, splints, casts, and those velcro boots.

21. You may have shamefully thought, “It wouldn’t be so bad if he married an orphan.”

22. At some point you notice the change in smell from “OMG sooo sweet” to “Get that tween some AXE.”

23. You can use your keyboard, phone, iPad, but there’s a good chance your fingers will get stuck to it.

24. You can’t find a single pair of pants without holes in the knees.

25. There’s a love you feel for your son that’s too great and sometimes too scary to fully explain or even comprehend.