Lessons in parenthood from the mother of two boys
If you are a parent of one boy, people call you “lucky”. If you’ve got two boys, you’re “busy”. Three boys makes you “crazy”. Four boys and everyone is secretly sad for you, and assumes you are still “trying for a girl”.
The assumption, you see, is that no one in their right mind would voluntarily have more than two boys. Three or four girls? No problem.
But there is a real stigma in our society, it seems, about having a family with lots of boys.
However, is there really such a difference between raising boys and raising girls?
And why does everyone act as if girls come from Venus and boys come from Uranus?
A new book, called MOB Rule: Lessons Learned by a Mother of Boys, makes it clear that a family of boys and a family of girls is a world apart.
Author Hannah Evans, mum of three boys, explains that Mothers of Boys (MOB) learn to burp the alphabet backwards, stockpile cereal, and do school drop-off in
Meanwhile, Mothers of Girls (MOG) arrive at the school “groomed and gleaming” in white trousers and tight pink tops, with manicured nails matching their immaculate motor cars.
MOGs, Evans says, will smile sympathetically at the MOBs and quickly “huddle the girls off in the opposite direction”.
Can this really be true? Yes, I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
The real question is why no one writing books bemoaning how hard it is to be the mother of three girls. Surely someone knee-deep in ballet costumes, Barbies and One Direction fan clubs deserves a 300-page winge-fest of their own?
So is there really such a big gender gap? Sadly, it would seem so.
One of Australia’s most eminent children’s psychologists, Steve Biddulph, certainly thinks there is.
In fact, he’s made a lot of money convincing us that the two sexes are so divergent that we need to buy entirely different books to help us raise them properly.
Indeed, after decades of buying dolls for boys and matchbox cars for girls, the differences between boys and girls seems wider than ever.
I was recently in a department store toy section and I saw aisle after aisle of branded “boy” toys like Ben 10, Transformers and Lego. Girls’ aisles were a sea of pink dolls houses, Little Ponies and annoying tiny little fluoro bead sets.
And there’s always an endless supply of advertisers to keep the gender game going: most recently Cottee’s released cordial with blue or pink labels as part of its “boys v girls” summer promotion.
I have one girl and two boys, so have seen a bit of both sides. It does seem the presence of both genders does seem to take the edge off things somewhat. My seven-year-old girlie-girl daughter, who loves doing hooker-style makeup with her friends, also loves playing cricket with her brothers.
And my younger son, who’s a real tear-away little boy, recently demanded to know why there was no “big boy nail polish”. (Don’t tell my husband I actually bought him some).
But at the same time, I know how intractable gender differences seem to be.
I know when my first son was a baby I speed-drank coffee standing up in cafes for years: I was always on alert, ready to pounce commando-style in case he started crawling under other people’s tables or pulled his willy out to wee on a nearby chair leg.
My daughter loved sitting still, and I remember her early years fondly as the era of the long leisurely latte – which was nonetheless still 15 minutes max.
Ultimately, stereotypes exist because they reflect the realities we see in daily life.
As MOB Hannah Evans concludes, you can lead a boy to Barbie, but you can’t make him pink.
Comments on this post close at 6pm AEST
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…