About A Boy

The author hockey-slides into room, panting, coat flopping half-off shoulders, hair trying to escape ponytail in ten different directions, and bearing small crock of spinach-artichoke dip in one arm with a loaf of rye bread stuffed into her diaper bag/purse/grocery bag/fashion accessory.Oh my gosh, yous guys, I am SO SORRY!

I had Mothergoosemouse's baby shower written down on my Google calendar, I swear I did, but when I was downloading emails from Google Mail, some spam about a Webkinz convention uploaded itself to January 21 and completely wonked out the rest of my schedule.

Okay AND I was so busy planning my daughter's birthday party on January 20, and seriously, I can only plan ahead one event at time, and that's even why I almost missed my own wedding because somehow a dentist appointment got scheduled the day before the wedding day. You'd think that even a root canal wouldn't sidetrack getting to the church on time for your own wedding, but you'd be wrong.

Anyway...I'm here!


Did you already play that game with the diaper and the peanut butter?


I love that game.

Oh well, my bad.

So, I'm guessing that by this point all the really great advice has been handed out.

I'm sure that you're all caught up regarding the penis and the pee fountains and why not to change a diaper while singing because even though urine is sterile, it still tastes like ammonia (even when it smells like asparagus).

Uhhhhmmm...and you got the part about little boys being enamored with their little boy thingy?

And how that continues on through adulthood?


You know, I realize that with my parenting resume boasting an impressive seventeen months of raising a boy, I should already be a font of wisdom on all things boys, right?

Well, to be honest, I haven't quite yet noticed that much difference between raising boys and girls.


Right now, the boy-baby is 17 months old. Thinking back to when my daughters were the same age and comparing my parenting experiences thus far, my conclusion based upon my data sample of three is that at seventeen months old, both boys and girls are a lot closer to behaving like mad chimps than anything recognizably female or male, even within the most liberal cultural parameters and definitions.

But okay...one thing I have noticed about boys that is different...

When the boy was three months old, people were more likely to pick up my 15- pound son and bounce him around and say, "Look how big he is! What a linebacker! What a tough guy!" Whereas with one of my 15- pound daughters at three months old, those same people would more likely place her on a silken pillow and coo over what a sweet, delicate princess she was. In actuality, all three children at three months old were equally similar in that their overriding personality characteristics were not so much those of linebackers or princesses, but of pooping, squealing, burping, flailing, adorable loaves of bread.

Another thing about boys...

I've found that when shopping for my son, it's almost impossible to find clothes off the rack that aren't embellished with airplanes, footballs or dinosaurs. In the way of Things To Get My Panties In A Twist Over, this is very small potatoes, but...you know how sometimes you just want a plain blue shirt? You know how if every piece of clothing a kid owns has some sort of pattern or theme, then you have to organize your laundry so that you don't end up with nothing but striped pants and spotted shirts with dogs on them? And you know how just once in a while you'd like to dress your kids as if they weren't members of a clown family? Or more eccentric than they are?

You know how sometimes you just want a PLAIN BLUE SHIRT?

Well, nature-nurture debates aside, I will warn you that fashion industry's push for boys to become All-Star Ace Pilot Paleontologist begins pretty early. I'd begin memorizing dinosaur taxonomy and fighter plane silhouettes as soon as possible if I were you.

Oh! Here's another good piece of advice!

I'd recommend visiting your local ice rink for a review of your figure skating skills, especially on re-learning a solid landing for your double axle. The reason I say this is because - as an indicator of what you might be in for - right now, every floor in our house is littered with booby traps of small four-wheeled everythings threatening to send me into a surprise death drop at every turn. I don't think the preponderance of Things That Go is so much the result of a stereotypically and innately male obsession with cars and trucks and all things muy macho, so much as it represents a boy-brain fascination with anything that moves. There are, of course, cars, trucks, and trains strewn all across the living room floor into the kitchen and down the hallway. But the boy has also been claiming and making zoooom! any and all doll strollers, pink ponies on wheels, In-line Skating Barbie, and a bright pink Polly Pocket Corvette convertible. I don't think that my son is compensating for...anything...just yet with his collection of miniature Trans Ams, nor do I think that his love of pink ponies on wheels indicates that we will be enjoying long summers at his beach house in Provincetown (although I dig Trans Ams and Provincetown somewhat equally - if only there were a hybrid Trans Am) ; however, he does like things that move across his cortical spatial areas.

So as a note of warning, do keep in mind that when these small movable objects are stepped on in the middle of your midnight jaunt to the bathroom, you'll grab a much higher technical and presentation score if you don't flutz your lutz, and if you can one-foot your spin, smile, and impress the judges with good extension on your flying camel. In other words, you don't want to look like this. Especially, on vinyl flooring. In your bathrobe. Or worse.

Other than that, the boy seems to be pretty much keeping pace with his sisters as far as first words, first steps, and first tantrums. Maybe not exactly coinciding month-by-month, day-for-day, but all within the wide realm of normal. One notable difference, however, is that while his sisters progressed through first attempts at English thusly

Ba-Ba (meaning ball, bottle, balloon, belly button, etc.)

the boy's first vocabulary looks more like this

Bub-Buh (meaning "Booby")
Beh-Beh (meaning "Pee-Pee" a.k.a. penis)
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (meaning "I want that thing I cannot have!")

So there is that.

My last word of wisdom is the only piece of advice that may border on being controversial.

No, it doesn't have to do with circumcision.

But it does have to do with overcoats. And it goes like this:

You have two older daughters. I have two older daughters.

I don't know how much girls' stuff you got rid of, but in a fit of decluttering, I got rid of a whole lot of all my baby clothes and paraphernalia right before I got pregnant. Like, literally, a few hours right before. Which, I suppose, sort of clinched the fact that there would be a surprise pregnancy, what with the universe having a distinctly wacky sense of humor not unlike the best Three's Company episode you can think of.

Now, there have been a good number of years between babies in my immediate family, as well as in the extended family, and so a whole lot of people went kooky-crazy at the thought of a new baby. As a result, we were delightfully showered with all sorts of baby gifts. One of these gifts, however, was not a winter bunting. This is understandable, since that baby was born during a 110 degree heat wave. And yet, even with six months lead time before the first snowfall, I still managed to find myself one day needing to head out of the house with the baby during a cold snap, and not having anything warmer than a long-sleeve snap dinosaur t-shirt on hand.

Well...except for the purple bunting with the pink hearts.

Now, I don't know what your politics are regarding putting little boys in purple buntings with pink hearts. But I will admit that I did pause for the briefest of moments after digging through the one remaining Rubbermaid container of infant clothes in my basement and only coming up with my daughter's decidedly girly-girl bunting.

I hesitated for a moment.

And then I put the bunting on him.

Because I had a date with a latte that could not be rescheduled.

I didn't think much about it afterwards - even when several people oohed and ahhed over my daintily adorable princess baby - until I arrived at the school bus stop to pick up my daughters.

They jumped off the bus, skipped over to the baby and me, and my eldest was immediately horror struck:


I tried to act nonchalant.

"How was school?"

She wasn't sidetracked.

"PEOPLE will THINK he's a GIRL!"

I found this especially surprising coming from her since she is the daughter most likely to horde snips and snails and puppy dog tails in her battered and muddied jeans pockets.

"Well, whaddaya say we get him an anchor tattoo on his upper arm? You almost never see girls with anchor tattoos, right?"

She was not amused.

And although I tried to address her worries with reminders that her own very, very muy macho father often wears pink or purple shirts to the office, she still silently fretted over the "wrong-gender-specific" bunting.

Which later worked to my advantage.

Because, you see, as far as my politics go on who gets to wears skirts and who doesn't, and who gets unjustly teased for their clothing choices and who shouldn't, I've realized that I'm all for "live and let live", especially when it comes to things like pink and purple buntings. However, I understand that in some micro-cultures - and perhaps some macro-cultures - it's very much "more okay" for a girl to wear a shirt with an airplane than for a boy to wear a skirt covered in lavender daisies. And as much as the fight for A More Purple-And-Pink Inclusive Society is one that I'd like to fight for myself and for my children, I'm still not decided to what extent I get to make the decision for my children as to whether or not to put them on the front lines without their consent or own willingness - or preparedness - to walk into battle.

Pink and purple buntings aside.

And this all sounds very grand and enlightened and socially conscious and brazenly activist in the Fight For The Right To Wear Pink-And-Purple, all while balancing a profound respect for my children as individuals with their own rights, feelings, and political leanings...but what it really boils down to is this:

With three kids of various and sundry genders and, I'm guessing, a wallet that on occasion gets a bit stretched around the edges as all our wallets do, my advice is that from here on out, everyone in the family gets green winter outerwear.

Or red.

Take your pick.

But if your personal household economy - likes ours - demands that the younger kids get hand-me-down winter wear, then stick with a color that doesn't incite a coup in your own home.

Or a mutiny.

Maybe he'll want to wear a pink Sparkle Pony coat; maybe not. But I need coats to last three seasons for three different kids and for as long as possible. I don't need a defiant uprising or a revolution of visionaries on my hands every December; uprisings and revolutions are both so, so draining. And right before the holidays.

We're all on the same page: everyone gets green.

You'll have plenty of other opportunities to prove your gender issues points.

Like the battle over the toilet seat.

Anyway, I hope I didn't turn anyone off with my very controversial musings about buntings and gender-specific coat color choices for children.

My husband said that I should be more controversial in my blog posts, but I hope I didn't run headlong into a firestorm topic that will overrun the Internet with links back to my blog berating me or celebrating me for my bravery in tackling this heated bunting topic, and then there would be the mention on Huffington Post and then the NY Times article and finally the made-for-tv movie starring Jennifer Aniston as Madame Jozet.


Well, that's all I have.

I'll end by wishing Mothergoosemouse a happy and eeeeaaaasssssyyyyy labor, and good wishes for her and her family in welcoming the soon-to-be newest human to our wonderful, beautiful world.

Much love and many, many amazing days to come!

ETA: Poo. I tried to put this link in the comments, and have been flummoxed again. Try this one Pink For Boys and Titian's Boy With Dogs


anne said...

Right on!

I have often found that when faced with the prospect of freezing one's patootie off, the color of the bunting matters not.

Words to live by.

ewe are here said...

Gaw... I missed the baby shower too because, well, I just did. Sigh.

But this is brilliant.

And my 2 1/2 year old BOY has a pair of second hand (from a secondhand shop) pair of red wellies (rubber boots) with little hearts on them because he liked them. And they were £1. And I don't care what everyone else thinks. :-)

Blog Antagonist said...

My sister has boy/girl twins. Sometimes they insist on dressing alike. This is all kinds of fine when the girl twin wants to wear overalls and flannel, but woe unto her if she allows the boy twin to wear anything foofy. And he likes foofy. He likes ballerina skirts and plastic high heels and make-up.

Not only does she catch it from her husband, but her 7 year old son as well.

Fascination with all things that go. YES. My son is still THREE years away from driving and he's already planning what kind of car he is going to have. At the rate he is consuming our meagre income, it will be a Yugo.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is how it stands here at our house: My two-year-old girl likes trains and likes to use play-tools, such as hammers, screw guns, and the like. My five-year-old boy just got over his liking for a purple princess dress, which he finagled from his cousin when he was two. (Mind you, he also wears his spiderman underwear with a cape and ski goggles, his bear costume with a power ranger mask and snow boots, and a Tarzan loincloth with cape and batman gloves - so you can see the costume-fixation pattern here...)

In any case, and the point is, I feel like society will get to them, soon enough. So, I let them ignore the gender roles while they can, without comment. Soon enough, they'll be scoffing at pink shirts and blue work coveralls just like the rest of us.

josetteplank.com said...

Ophelia, yes.

I have those same inclinations to let them wear what they want while they want as long as they take off the Tinky Winky costume once a week so that I can wash it. It's a shame that "this is for boys and that is for girls" enters in as soon as it does. I understand that at some point they want to identify with some gender and that the way to do that is to look to their adult models.

Which is why I can understand why my daughters keep frogs in their pockets, but I'm still not quite sure why they got so frantic over the purple bunting. I mean, sure, my husband is - as I said - muy macho. But in a pink shirt, Croc-wearing, Vespa-riding kind of way.

Can I blame the school bus? Every time my kids say something shocking, I say they learned it on the school bus. Of course, I have no idea what my kids are likewise telling other kids. Probably that their mother forces their brother to dress in drag.

we_be_toys said...

Definitely Jannifer Anniston should play you in the made-for-TV-movie! you guys are like twins!

Girl, I can relate to the Quest For A Friggin Plain Shirt for a little boy - I hate those damn bullet-proof plastic shield pictures they insist on putting on every little boy shirt, pants,outfit. Enough already! If I wouldn't wear it, and my husband wouldn't wear it, why would I dress my kid in it?

PS, I'm all about pink and purple power for boys - let's start a grassroots trend!

Anonymous said...

Bunting color...irrelevant. Men wear pink polo shirts and look totally fantabulous! However...
my SIL allows her 8-year old son to wear a t-shirt with a girl's logo on the front that clearly came from a bargain bin somewhere. It is not cold where they live. Also? He wears (when he feels the desire) his jeans on backwards so that the butt portion balloons oddly over the front of his thighs. And the zipper and snap are in back...riding up in a very uncomfortable way. HE IS 8!! To make matters worse, he wears long, clunky old lady costume jewelry...to school or anyplace he wants. And? A gold and velvet crown. He does not wash his hair except every few weeks because he doesn't like water touching him. And...mismatched socks with sandals. To my mind there is a big difference between creative play/dress up and dressing appropriately for school or other functions. And then his mother wonders why kids make fun of him. No, really. She's completely baffled. Okay...so I got a little off subject. But I thought it had some point to make with reference to your brilliant post.

Unknown said...

I regularly buy outerwear in basic colors, as I have to allow for Matthew (the younger but huger) to hand them down/up to Emily (the older but dinkier). His favorite color is blue. Hers is yellow (though I think that may because she thinks it would be too cliche to pick pink, even though ... dang, she does love pink). So they both lose out. We get a lot of red coats. I tell them it's for the high-visibility factor. :)

Julie Pippert said...

You sort kids clothes before washing them?

Wow, I just toss them in and count those kids lucky to have anything clean the way they run through outfits.

I didn't join in because I haven't got one thing to say on the matter of boys, other than so far I haven't met one who can or will stand up to my girls.

I also let my kids dress weird. I meant, as they prefer. I meant, creatively.

Purple bunting?

I had blue fleece for Patience. Nobody said anything. I'd give it to you but I already pledged it to my SIL, the one who is mad now because her baby is still in there, cooking...off-schedule. I started to say, "get used to it..." but my husband sent me the quelling look and I realized the kids get it at least as much from him as me.

josetteplank.com said...

Julie -

No, I don't sort clothes. I mean, not beyond not mixing reds with whites.

I don't know...I suppose that when it's non-stop "creativity" - as it is in our house - the Virgo in me once in a while just craves a moment of matching shirt and pants.

And that's okay about the bunting. We're beyond that stage this winter. You know, not too long ago, blue was the "girl color" in popular western culture because it was the color of the Blessed Mother. And pink was the watered down masculine red...and for boys.

Pink Is For Boys

Interesting. Veeerrrryyyyy interesting.

Peggy Sez.. said...

Purple was/is the color of Kings ya know!Pink..not so much..LOL

Julie Marsh said...

Jozet, sometimes I think we lead very similar lives. Except you are much funnier.

Ironically, CJ does own green snowbibs and parka - but with a pink fleece lining. And while I have not yet given away all of the baby girl clothes, I do have a bunting upstairs...a pink one with hearts.


Because, as a girl who was mistaken for a boy until I was about TWELVE, I have some longstanding issues with confusing my children's gender roles. It's okay by me if THEY want to mix it up, but that's up to them.

Still, when their ages can still be measured in weeks and months, I don't think they'll sustain any long-term effects from being mistaken as a member of the opposite sex.

Seriously - thank you for the lovely post. You always make me smile, and I'm so glad you're back to posting regularly!

josetteplank.com said...

"It's okay by me if THEY want to mix it up, but that's up to them.

Still, when their ages can still be measured in weeks and months, I don't think they'll sustain any long-term effects from being mistaken as a member of the opposite sex."


And I'm confounded that you could say clearly in fewer than 100 words what it took me a freakin' novel to get across...and still very muddily, lol.

josetteplank.com said...

BTW, the middle daughter got a red Children's Place unisex coat this winter, but she accessorized with pink-heart Hello Kitty hat and gloves.

Which she immediately lost.

Karen Jensen said...

"Everybody gets green." And yellow. I like yellow. But I must confess a certain longing for a hello kitty hat.

Rima said...

Ah, yes. The "green bunting rule." I am familiar.

Mother Theresa said...

You know, in Spain we avoid the pink is for girls, blue is for boys problem by putting earrings on the girls as soon as they're born. That way even if a boy wears pink, if people don't see any earrings they'll assume it's a boy (and vice versa).

Jenny said...

I agree with Peggy Sez, purple is the color of royalty. At least that's what I tell people when my three year old little boy proclaims his love for it (and princesses)!

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