*WARNING: This post contains sweeping generalizations.
If that sort of thing is not your bag then you might want read something else. And probably stay away from the entire internet for that matter…
As most of you know I live in the testosterone zone with my partner Brook and our three boys. Then every other week these levels are raised further when my lovely stepson comes to stay for a night or two.**
While in hospital for each of the boys births I was given a little red book to record their measurements and immunisations, and a bounty bag full of brochures, breast pads and tubes of complimentary nappy rash cream.
Now I’m sure the hospital administrators meant well, but this post natal swag left me woefully unprepared for even ONE boy let alone three.
So in the spirit of parental solidarity, I’ve put together a list of the top 4 things I wish I’d known that could have helped prepare me for the onslaught of raising boys.
It would have been five except I was forced to concede that “You will need wine” is invaluable parenting advice regardless of the gender of your children.
1. You will talk about Dig-Digs and Dinosaurs for 8 years
When you leave hospital you’ll have fistfuls of literature on every subject from the standard breast-feeding advice to my personal favourite – how to poo properly post-caesarion.
All this is fine and good, but what you really need to be swatting up on is earth-moving equipment, affectionately referred to in our house as “dig-digs”. Some of the credit for this obsession must go to Bob the Builder, but I think the added excitement of seeing their toys come to life every time we drove past road works definitely contributed as well.
Either way, for years no journey was complete without a robust discussion about any “dig-digs” we happened to see, including speculation about they were used for and what type of noise they made
Then when my eldest was around 3 years old dinosaurs entered the equation.
Since I also had an 18 month old and a full time job by this point I cant honestly say how it happened, but now I was now forced to memorise countless dinosaur names and have robust discussions about whether they were meat-eaters or plant-eaters.
When son number 3 came along he picked up both the dig-dig and dinosaur obsessions, so according to my calculations I spent approximately 8 years talking about these two subjects. ENDLESSLY!
As you would expect one does not escape from this mental anguish unscathed. I have pointed out a particularly interesting looking dig-dig to a rather bemused colleague once while we were driving to an appointment.
And I have been known, after a few drinks, to challenge my companions to dinosaur naming competitions by asking (in a slightly belligerent manner)…
ME: “Ask me what an Archeopteryx is…”
ME: “Nah, seriously man, go ahead. Ask me what an f*%king Archeopteryx is … ”
ME: “Whaddaya mean you don’t care what an Archeopteryx is? That’s just fucking ignorant, that is… ”
Brook usually ushers me away at this point muttering…
“Didn’t we agree not to start up with the Archeopteryx shit this time? Hmmmm?”
2. The bathroom will become your nemesis
Another standard item in the baby swag bags were those little bottles of Johnson & Johnson lavender scented bath lotion. Once again a very nice gesture but one that in no way prepared me for the horror which is sharing one bathroom with three boys.
By the end of the week it looks like monkeys have taken up residence in the bathroom, and it smells like it too.
There is wee IN the toilet – despite nagging, begging and pleading with them to flush, 9 times out of 10 they just saunter off once they’ve given their dangly bits a final shake. And thanks to a bit of dodgy aim and absentmindedness there is also plenty of wee OUTSIDE the toilet too.
After 11 years of fighting the good fight in our bathroom, I have developed the following recommendations regarding the equipment that should be issued to mothers of boys upon leaving the hospital…
First Son = Large vat of disinfectant
Second Son = High pressure hose, Gerni or similar.
Third Son = Full HAZMAT suit
For fourth and subsequent sons all I can suggest is something cheerful like this to hang above the bathroom door…
3. Your lounge room will become “The Octagon”
To say that boys like wrestling is like saying that Brazilians “like” soccer – and understatement of epic proportions. What is surprising is that what looks (and sounds) like conflict is actually fun – apparently there is no better way to express your affection for your brother than getting him in a headlock!
To simulate the effect of living with boys…
- Create an Octagon in your lounge room using cushions, coffee tables and and other pieces of occasional furniture
- Go to your local Mixed Martial Arts gym – invite all members to your house for an impromptu training session. Bribe them with protein shakes if necessary
- When you get back to The Octagon (AKA your lounge) encourage the MMA guys to really get stuck into their training – take note of damage to fittings and fixtures because that’s how your house in going to look permanently once your boys arrive
You may notice afterwards your neighbours give you strange looks or comment on how noisy things are at your house. You may as well get used to that too, while you’re at it…
4. You will become the underpants police
For reasons unknown to man or science, many little boys consider wearing undies to be a hindrance they’d rather do without.
Now I’m no prude and when we are at home I’m totally in favour of being comfortable and letting it all hang out – figuratively and literally.
But society, and in particular school, does require that dangly bits be stowed safely so they can’t peak out the sides of their shorts. Which means that you need to prepare for a life of constant vigilance to ensure that all your sons make it out the door wearing underpants. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
A background in the federal police or perhaps customs might be beneficial but even still they are crafty creatures and in the hustle of the morning routine it’s easy to forget to check.
Often you don’t even know you’ve let one through to the keeper unless you happen to see them getting undressed for the bath. If the shorts come off and reveal a bare butt you know they’ve foiled you again.
So that’s my very inappropriate guide to preparing for raising boys.
Is your house full of waggling willies? Are you a all girl house or a cheerful mix? Are your kids serial underwear-evaders?
How do YOU manage it?
**My only relief from this relentlessly male atmosphere comes in the form of my step-daughter who is more than a match for even the most rambunctious of the boys.