As Parents of Boys, Does the Worry Ever End?

This is an older post that I’m re-posting in honor of my son’s 19th birthday  this month and the birth of my stepson’s first child (a boy) due to make his arrival later this month.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a statement that I know a lot of people will have an issue with but it needs to be said so here goes: when it comes to having children, girls are better than boys.

There. It’s said.

19260736And I have to say I welcome any and all to refute or argue that this is not true. My own incontrovertible arguments are below.

It has been my experience as an only girl with three brothers and as the mother of an only boy that a boy is born and then begins a fairly constant campaign of trying to kill himself from then on.

You do not find girls flipping through gun magazines at age eight. You don’t see girls trying to create their own mailbox bomb at ten or taking apart the laptop because “You didn’t look like you were using it much and I wanted to see how it worked.” You just don’t.

I have friends with girl children and they have plenty to complain about but none of the whining or gossiping or nonstop talking or whatever gripe you have about daughters can compare with the worry you must live with on a daily basis when your child is a boy.

My older brother got his pilot’s license on his sixteenth birthday, before he even collected his driver’s license, which he did the very next day. My mother, when it became evident that my son was also mad for jets, said: “Do yourself a favor, forbid him to learn to fly now and save yourself the terror you’ll experience every time he walks out the door.”

Unfortunately, when I laid down the edict to my son, like most things, I went too far. I told him something along the lines of : “I don’t want you to fly as long as I am taking breath on this earth.” Maybe not surprisingly, the thought of my dying does not appear to unduly unsettle him. Rather, he finds himself wondering how old he’ll be (i.e. when I die) and if there’ll be a flying school near his house.

7232917Boys want to do dangerous things with dangerous implements and they want to do them pretty much from the moment they can reach. I have a girlfriend who had three girls before she and her husband were surprised with their last, a boy. She told me the story of how she handed down to this, her last child, a wooden toy that all her daughters had played with as babies. She said the first time she gave it to him—he still couldn’t walk yet—he gave it a whack that broke it into three useless pieces.

Boys are so different.

My husband’s cousin’s son achieved fame within the family (posthumously, I must add) when, clowning around with his pals, he climbed a telephone pole and then reached for the wrong wire.

Can you imagine a girl doing this?

I think being a parent means learning to manage fear just about all the time. When you treasure something that much, you’re constantly worried about losing it, but with a boy, the worry is racheted up several notches higher. I mean, really, what is there to worry about with a girl?

That she’ll drink or do drugs? That worry is not exclusive to girls and boys have a worse peer pressure for doing those kinds of naughty things.

That she’ll be abducted, raped and murdered? Sorry, that also is not exclusive to girls.

That she’ll get pregnant? Please. Not the end of the world. Nobody dies in this scenario. Next.

That she’ll get a DUI (or worse)? New statistics have come out that indicate teenage girls are delaying getting their driver’s licenses. So, fewer of them are driving until later when they’re more mature. Boys are LESS mature at 16 than girls are at that age and THEY are not delaying getting their licenses!

32252586How about that she’ll want to play with guns or bash her brains out playing football or decide to join the Army or take up rock climbing so she can hang from a precipice 10,000 feet up and make you go totally WHITE before your time?

Boys are different.

My son is into backpacking and he’s recently bought a camping hammock. To me, the hammock resembles one of those contraptions you hang bananas in until they ripen, not unlike, I assume, how a hungry bear will view my son.

Which brings me to the end and the seemingly innocuous incident which prompted this post in the first place. Upon returning home from school today, my son grabbed a hatchet and said: “Heading into the woods, Mom, to find something for Dad’s birthday.”

Seriously. Can you honestly imagine a girl uttering these words? (Fortunately, it was a tree, not an animal in his crosshairs but even so, there was blood involved when it was all over.)

Boys. Are. Different.

39176807And finally, what about the undeniable comfort one parent gets from the solidarity of being able to share fears and concerns with the other parent? Let me refute that myth right now. When my husband came home tonight, he dropped his briefcase and headed out the back door, yelling over his shoulder in the direction of my son’s bedroom: “Hurry, John! Neighbor said there’s a nest of copperheads in the back yard.”

Seriously?

ALL. Boys. Are. Different

NB Update: My stepson’s baby wasn’t born “later this month” as I mentioned earlier but the day after I wrote this post, on October 3. So, welcome to the world little Brody–now put down that rattle and get back in that bassinet!

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19 thoughts on “As Parents of Boys, Does the Worry Ever End?

  1. I’m the father to four boys (9.5, 8, 6, and 4) and a 1-year-old girl and this post just made me smile… and cringe. My favorite story was, “her last child, a wooden toy that all her daughters had played with as babies. She said the first time she gave it to him—he still couldn’t walk yet—he gave it a whack that broke it into three useless pieces.” That seems like every day in our house. Just hoping all that machismo results in their little sister being very protected. 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, you have your hands full! Haha…yes, I think you can count on your daughter not being able to date until she’s well into her thirties with all those male protectors around! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Depends on what you call “better” and at what? Boy’s are better at pushing the envelope, playing in the mud, making slingshots, jumping off the barn roof with a home made parachute and expecting to fly to the moon using a bundle of leftover fireworks as propulsion, hunting with everything from that slingshot mentioned earlier, to a home made bow and arrow to various traps and snares. Boys are into building, doing, inventing
    stuff that makes loud noises, club houses, tree houses, coasters and rocket powered what evers, it’s the old “sugar and spice” thing verses “frogs and snails” boys aren’t BETTER than girls or the other way around. They’re just Different. Pick your poison. Raised a couple of each and my share of Grand Kids, done my share of braggin’ and pickin’ up the pieces, But ask me to choose who’s “better” Boys or Girls? I’ll have to go back to my first question “Which is better at What?”

    • For me, Jon, the “better” I was referring to was from a worried parent’s point of view. I know you worry just as much over a girl child but I stick by my assertion that girls don’t put you through the ringer as constantly as do boys! Many girls are perfectly happy to spend the weekend playing with dolls or watching TV or other “quiet” activities. Rare is the boy who will sit still for long (even with violent video games to keep them inside) before they jump up to see if they can make a homemade hand grenade or something. My younger brothers spent one summer creating a huge underground maze underneath the palmettos near where we lived in Cocoa Beach, Florida. They practically lived in this place with their friends for weeks–meeting up with more than the world’s supply of rattlesnakes and coral snakes along the way–before the whole thing collapsed one afternoon (it was made of sand after all) when they were in the house having lunch. (My brothers were ages ten and eleven.) By “collapse” we’re talking five feet of sand, bushes and light structures caving in on the tunnels. If there had been anybody inside at the time…well, let’s just say my parents were both prematurely white-headed before they were forty.

  3. I think male’s tendency towards dangerous things can be summed up in a few words: “what’s this button do?”

    I developed a fondness for rock climbing. My mother used to say, “don’t tell me when you’re going out climbing.”
    I haven’t been out this season… but I don’t trust myself on a rock face at the moment. Her passing has messed with my concentration.

  4. Two grown sons and between them:
    1. 1 ruptured spleen (sledding accident)
    2. 1 broken arm (car wreck)
    3. 1 broken nose and concussion (attempting to break up a fight between other drunken teenagers – perhaps if he hadn’t been inebriated himself he would have shown better judgement).
    4. Shoulder surgeries (torn rotator cuffs – HS wrestling)
    5. A broken jaw (running on an icy sidewalk, slipped, and landed on his chin on a stone bench)
    6. Assorted other injuries from karate, baseball, hockey, & wrestling
    7. More near misses than I like to think about, all of which we learned of after the fact. I suspect there are others we don’t (and probably never will) know about.

    But you know, gray hair notwithstanding, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

    • Omigosh, I loved this! And from only two boys?? I’ll have to pass it on to my stepson (his own son was born last night) but I’ll need to do it quickly as he’s leaving for Afghanistan in four weeks! I love boys but they surely do turn you into quivering, gibbering nervous wrecks before your time. 🙂 BTW: I’m sure your #7 is the one that keeps me up at night–wondering about all the near-misses that I have no clue about. Maurice Chevalier had it right: thank heaven for little girls!

      • Well, I have to share this, even at the risk of offending someone (please feel free to delete the comment).

        When our youngest was born, I was working in an international shipping company and all our ships had Italian officers, who occasionally rotated through the office on various shore assignments. Shortly after the birth of our second son, one of them came to my office to offer his congratulations. I still chuckle when I remember the conversation:

        Pietro: Bob! You have another son! You are a lucky man. I’m have five daughters myself.

        Me: Well, I am lucky, but honestly we were hoping for a daughter this time.

        Pietro (with an emphatic shake of his head): No! No! No! I’ma tell you, you will find out when they become the teenagers! With a little boy, you gotta just one little (insert male anatomical reference here) to worry about. But when you gotta a daughter, you gotta worry about every little $#@& in the whole world!

  5. Daughters, Son’s, he’s a good boy, she’s my little angel. He’s my dad, She’s my Mom, my Dad’s Okay but he’s never home, my Mom’s not so great, but she’s always going through my stuff, my Dad likes to talk but he’s never here, my Mom’s always here, but doesn’t want to hear it, My Dad says Let’s go fishing, my Mom say’s your Dad’s gone fishing let’s go shopping, My Dad say’s I can get you a job at the office, my Mom says I should go to school in Paris, my Dad says grow up, my Mom says do it while you’re young, Grandma say’s come live with me, I need some help at the store. I’m packing my bags, my Dad says I’ll buy the ticket’s, my mom says Paris would be more fun and I’ll only live once. Grandma says
    it’s true I could use a little help, but I’d really like to have my favorite Grand Daughter around, you know “get to know each other”, work together listen to my stories, have some fun, talk to me when I get lonely, Dad says your grandma needs a nurse, Mom say’s she’ll help me pack my bags, Boy’s and Girls, all different, all the same. but it’s us that we need to be worried about.

  6. I’m surprised you could write “Ella,” based on this. Be glad, very glad you were not my mother. I had to wear those polio metal leg braces until I was 2 or 3 and still managed to get out of my crib and out the front door.

    At 14, I told her I was going to do as I darn well pleased and she might as well just say yes, so she could look like she was telling me what to do. I was kicked out of the house on my 18th birthday with 6 months of high school still to follow. (To be fair, my parents had gone to Japan and left me with the house, car and an allowance for half a year instead of two weeks – creating a bit of a rift when they thought I should be in by midnite after their return.)

    In 6th grade my friend grabbed me to pull me down the sidewalk and I fell and broke my wrist, but amazingly was so battered looking at the doctor’s office people thought I’d been in a car wreck. I did have a concussion as well.

    My parents got calls at 4 a.m. from car wrecks and bar fights – yep, 16 stitches down the back of my head in my late teens and early 20’s.

    I may have never wanted to break OPEN my etch a scetch as my brother did, but I personally helped start a riot at my high school that made the evening news, started a protest against a coach who said boys with long hair were “f” words…a different f word that is.

    In 5th grade the school secretary mimeographed business cards for me and my friends who quickly disbanded as the “Four Investigators,” when I couldn’t be first. In 6th grade I made a grown man so mad he was shaking and told me if I ever made him that mad again he wouldn’t be responsible for what was done to me.

    So….one might think relationships were strained between myself and my parents? But no – they both never said one word about the straight “F’s” I got on my report cards in conduct while I also made straight “A’s” and got an exclusive scholarship offer.

    The best line of this story happens when I’m 36 and have gone with a new boyfriend to Sturgis in S. Dakota. He gets drunk and arrested for DWI; I wander all around town crying asking people where the jail is. They finally put me IN the jail for “protective custody,” with no charges filed. I want out at 4 a.m.. but they threaten to actually book me, so I go lay back down til 7 a.m. and I’m on the street without even 50 cents for a soda. He gets a hearing at 11 a.m., I’m a day late in resuming my job and we buy a rolled down a mountain little car and drive straight on to Houston.

    I called my mother as soon as he was out and told her immediately what happened. She said “put him on the line.” I thought, well it was a fun week, goodbye to this relationship….and she says to him: “Don’t you know whenever you go anywhere with MY daughter, you are going to have an ADVENTURE?!”

    My parents “goal,” as it turns out, was to raise an “independent” person. My brother never even left the country – I lived in another and speak the language.

    Your experience may inform your title, but really, the answer is noooo…..!
    And the question is just “as parents, does the worry ever end?”

    Congrats on your grandbaby.

    • Whoa! What a dossier! YOU should be writing fiction, you certainly have enough action and adventure to fill up several series. 🙂 Yes, you’re right, of course, there are always exceptions to every rule. And double and triple YES, boy or girl, a parent’s worry starts when you first hear the ultrasound heartbeat and it never, never ends. Thanks for commenting!

  7. According to my wife, boys get a burst of testosterone at age about 4, which leaves their levels so high they’d fail an Olympics doping test, and they turn into fearless, hyperactive zooming creatures for whom ‘risk calculation’ is nonexistent. I still recall arriving at my nephew’s 6th birthday party just as he led line of other 6-year old boys at 1,000,000 miles an hour, in and out through a narrow gap between some plate glass ranch-sliders . One trip, one slip… Luckily nothing untoward happened, but he was quite oblivious to the risks. I suppose it’s part of growing up and worried parents (and aunts and uncles) have to accept what follows.

    Anyhow, my wife informs me that ritalin doesn’t come in industrial spray cans… :-).

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