As a mother of nine, I saw boyishness up close and personal. Our first-born was a delightful, rough, and playful little guy brimming with energy and questions. Being our first, I really didn’t have anyone to compare him to. He just seemed to be a busy toddler full of sillies.

Sixteen years and five sisters later, we had another boy. By contrast, our second son’s entrance into our world of dolls and pink bikes was brazenly apparent.

Despite the hand-me-down red tights, the poor guy occasionally found himself in, Tommy had an unmistakable John Wayne swagger. At 18-months old, he whittled his first gun out of his cracker with his baby teeth and began shooting imaginary foes.

Soon after he took his first steps, everything he touched grew a very loud invisible motor.

His problem-solving tactics were in direct contrast to that of his sisters. This became obvious at about the age of two.

At the time, I was eight months pregnant and about to split at the seams with our eighth child. There was no room on my lap for anything more than a belly full of baby. The tired little guy curled up and snuggled into my side. As we sat on the couch together, I was hoping he would fall asleep—but he was too full of new words to wind down to sleep.

All of a sudden he stopped talking. His face lit up.

Obviously, he had a thought.

All aglow he looked at my round tummy, stood up and pointed. “Ball! My ball!” He squealed, trying his best to bounce on his tiptoes. Then, just as quickly, his little brow turned into a frown and his bottom lip turned into a pout. A grave concern washed over his face, “Mommy eat my ball?”

Without hesitation, and before I could stop him, the toddler climbed atop my large mound. Straddling my belly like a chubby little cowboy riding in a saddle, we were eye to eye with his fingers trying to pry open my mouth.

“I did NOT eat your ball.” I tried to explain, as he insisted on retrieving his beloved ball,
 that this very round middle he just hurdled was a baby–not his ball.

He didn’t buy it.

You could just see his wheels turning. His little male brain was saying, “Don’t lie to me. Look at the facts lady. My ball has been missing for weeks and you have been eating constantly. I can practically see it right there, obvious conclusion– MY BALL!”

Boys will be boys.

What we know is an obvious truth, in our every day, lives is constantly being swept aside. The difference between boys and girls are dismissed as environmental, a choice to make, or worse–toxic. We are told, that our boys are only boys because that is how we raised them.

That’s the story the culture has been wading waist deep in for decades. Let’s step out of the fantasy pool and dry off a bit with some science.

What we now know as scientific fact, information that wasn’t available in the 1960s (when boyhood first came under attack) is that all humans begin life as a female.

It’s not until the mother’s ovaries bathe the fetus with testosterone that the baby becomes a biological male. When this dramatic transformation takes place it changes the very structure of the brain.

Then once again at puberty, distinctly male hormones flood the brain and body and physiological changes occur.

In spite of decades of pushing a vision of a world where everyone is the same, we remain different. You can encourage little boys to play with dolls instead of trucks, he will still be a boy evolving into a man. It has taken decades for science to disprove what politically tainted psychology has exalted to parents as truth.

Boys are different than girls.

Here’s a fun fact: Mothers produce different breast milk for their baby boys.

Boys learn differently, communicate, and problem-solve differently. They develop at a different rate. This simple reality, that should be an obvious and plain fact, was distorted for a social-political agenda.

Schools that take great pride in celebrating diversity still refuse to acknowledge the difference between male and female. And because of it, boys are suffering in schools dramatically. What this myth has changed, is society’s expectations of boys.

Perhaps more tragic, we lost sight of how normal boys behave.

While raising my children, I often wondered about the mothers of Lewis and Clark and Daniel Boone. Do you think these men, as boys, were exasperating to their mothers?

Men like these were born with an edge-walking, line-crossing spirit that was fed and not quenched.

Boys were born to explore, to conquer, to invent, and to protect. So how do we nurture these attributes?

First, recognize them as normal.

Let’s direct their energy, instead of subduing it. Encourage free playtime. Let them build and strengthen the best parts of inherently male qualities. In doing so, you’ll allow them to create a childhood with memories that will last a lifetime.

2 COMMENTS

  1. as a father of five, four girls and a boy in that order, i can hear myself saying to other parents my children were growing up “That boys can think of far more things to get into mischief than girls will ever think of” though to be fair, I have found out about the girls, falling out of trees and hurting themselves and not saying anything, the game of mercy they played with the rural electric fences, the big sister who wrote her younger sisters name on the wall to get her in trouble. Myself growing up I very much relate to your blog, I was vastly different to my sister, apart from the fact I was adopted, I was the one who dismantle the alarm clock to see how it works and was not able to reassemble, I built things, loved experimenting with science kit, studied bugs, nearly burnt things down, built mini-bikes. I went on to become a motor mechanic and my adopted sister became a world renowned professor of medicine.

    • Four girls, and then a boy– yes you know exactly what I mean. The problem, I think for most of us, is that we confuse what it means to be different. Boys and girls are different. They both can get in trouble, just go about it differently. They both can be high achievers. My hope is that this generation of parents will turn the tide and value and nurture their differences.

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