When I first heard I was having a boy all I could think about were stereotypes. I was afraid my boy would play "rough" and pick on girls he liked. I was afraid he wouldn't want to spend time with me because I'm not really a "sports" mom and I would have to trade all the Barbies my daughter played with in for a stash of cars, trucks, trains, and superheroes. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about and most of those outdated platitudes were false. But there are some stereotypes about raising boys that are totally true, at least when it comes to my son.
My son is sweet, sensitive, and probably a bi-product of a semi-overprotective mother who loves him more than words can express. He does likes sports, but he also loves playing with his sister's dolls. He's usually gentle, not rough, and he plays with anything that interests him — not just superheroes, cars, and trucks. He doesn't pick on anyone, regardless of their gender or regardless of whether or not he "likes" them. He's emotional and strong, practical and creative, and he loves to pick out his own clothes. Sometimes he does do and like stereotypical things, but it's not because he was "destined" or "designed" to. Instead, it's simply because he's a curious kid trying to learn and grow and figure out who he is.
As a culture we've come a long way in combatting sexism, and it's clear we should continue challenging gender stereotypes and creating a safer, more equal society for our children. Part of that work is refusing to treat babies or children or young adults or people any differently simply because of their sex or gender. All those stereotypes I was initially worried my son would embody are all the result of, I believe, little boys and little girls being treated differently. But every once in a while my son does exude some stereotypical boy behavior, and I have to be that stereotypical "boy mom" as a result.
You're Quick To Applaud Their Strength
My son flexes all the time. I mean all the time. He is constantly telling me to "look at his muscles" and, well, I usually tell him how strong he is. My little one is proud of his body and what his body is capable of and, well, so am I.
You Have To Deal With Constant Competition
My son is 6 and, I swear, there isn't a single competition or task my he won't give his all at. Whatever his sister is good at, he wants to be better at.
(Although, to be fair, his sister is pretty competitive too, so this could easily be the result of some healthy sibling rivalry.)
You Deal With More Bumps, Bruises, & Cuts
In my humble experience, all kids have energy and every single kid is a bonafide klutz that's going to get hurt a time or two. But wow, oh wow, does my son seem naturally inclined to hurt himself. From wrestling to testing the laws of gravity, my kid is hellbent on giving me a heart attack.
You're At The Mercy Of Constant Bathroom Humor
What is it with boys and their gross jokes? The farting? The constant talk about poop? Hell, the obsession with poop? I mean, I love my son, but he's a fan of super gross things and I'm over it.
You Have To Say "Don't Touch Your Penis" All The Time
It's actually developmentally normal — yes, normal — for a little boy to pay attention to his penis. According to Dr. Sears, "Many young children touch their privates, and often it is simple curiosity: they are interested in 'that thing' down there." Parents are advised not to make a big deal about it or shame their children, because it will not cause physical harm and it does not mean a child is sexually promiscuous.
Having said that, I have found myself saying "don't touch your penis" when we're out in public way, way, way more times than I could have possibly imagined I would. Life is weird, you guys.
You're Constantly Peed On
Three words: pee pee teepee.
You're Going To Hear A Marriage Proposal
My son constantly tells me he loves me and I am beautiful and the most incredible mom and, yes, that he is going to marry me. Of course, this is going to be a thing of the past as soon as he understands what marriage actually is, and realizes there are more than one way to love a human being, but right now he asks for my hand in marriage pretty regularly.
You're The One They Run To
I don't want to be a total stereotype here, but there really is a difference between the relationship I have with my daughter and the relationship I have with my son. I'm his go-to person, his "favorite," and he's absolutely a so-called "mama's boy."
I guess, sometimes, stereotypes aren't all that bad.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.