I found out that I was having a boy on a cold, snowy afternoon in March. My husband and I went to the ultrasound together, leaving our 18-month-old daughter at home with my mom. I ignored my gut feeling that it was a boy because I so badly wanted another girl. I have two sisters, and I dreamed of having a sister for my daughter. So, later that day when my husband and I opened up the envelope and saw the word “boy,” written on the ultrasound picture, I felt my stomach sink. Growing up with two sisters and a lot of girl cousins, I felt like I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy. Of course, I knew I would love him just as much as I love his sister, but I didn’t know if I would be able to relate to him. As it turns out, having a son would fascinate me.
The reality is, a baby is a baby. I spent the first year of my son’s life getting to know him the same way I got to know my daughter — through first smiles and first laughs and first coos. As a baby, he did have an adorable, raspy voice that was much lower than my daughter’s voice ever was, but other than that, he was a sweet, chubby, happy baby who added so much joy to our family.
And then, around 18 months, he began to show his interests. All of a sudden, our once very pink toy area began to fill with trucks and cars and trains and tools. We went to Disney World a few months before he turned two, and his favorite “ride” was the bus from the hotel to the parks. I suddenly had a little boy who loves tractors and trucks, knows the difference between an excavator, a dump truck and a cement mixer, and has a slight obsession with “fixing” things. In other words, his interests are very different than those of his sister, and it never stops surprising me. Having a little boy has allowed me to stretch my imagination in ways I’ve never had to before. Playing dolls with my daughter feels familiar, something I did all the time growing up, but when my son asks me to race cars around the house, or picks up a stick on the lawn and pretends it’s a sword (not even knowing what a sword is, I should mention), I have to get more creative in my play.
Having a little boy has also made me more aware of the way that my husband and I are raising our kids. We often hear the phrase, “boys will be boys,” but frankly, I don’t want my son to be one of those boys. Yes, he tends to be more rough and silly than his older sister, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be gentle to his sisters (we did end up adding another girl to our family) or kind to property and people. Two of his favorite words are “pee-pee” and “poo-poo,” but that doesn’t mean he needs to use them all of the time.
Perhaps it’s because I didn’t grow up around boys, but every day, I am in awe of my son and his interests. I never thought I’d have to play the garbage truck Blippi episode multiple times per day, or that I’d race to the driveway on Fridays so we can wave to the recycling truck as it goes by. I never thought I’d be googling “toy combine” at 10 p.m., but here I am doing it.
Do all of these things add up to make my son the person he is today? Not entirely. He is an extremely sweet, tenderhearted almost 3 year old who potty trained early but could be bringing his pacifier to college with him. He says “please” and “thank you” more than I’d ever expect him to, and he is never hesitant to help me grab a diaper for his little sister. He “parks” his trucks and cars in a perfect line before he goes to bed, and if I happen to move one as I’m cleaning up before bed, he will notice in the morning.
All of my kids have characteristics that make them unique regardless of if it lines up with their gender, but my son does fit the picture of a stereotypical boy. I don’t know if it will ever stop fascinating me.