You will never, ever, EVER hear me accusing Chickadee of being easy. Ever. But she is a girl, and so has stereotypically managed to be… girly. The kind of grief she causes tends to be emotional anguish, rather than, say, actual physical destruction. She doesn’t make all that much noise. (Sure, the *STOMPSTOMPSLAM* routine is not exactly quiet, but in her everyday existence volume modulation is not a problem.) She is not prone to, say, flinging herself around.
And then came Monkey. The joke in this house is that a herd of elephants lives in Monkey’s room. Whenever there is a large crash, now, after YEARS of coaching, Monkey reflexively calls out, “I’m okay!” He is just… different. Rougher. BOY-LIKE.
It pains me to gender-norm my kids this way. Because maybe that’s just THEM. I only have one boy and one girl, and who am I to say this is gender-dictated behavior? Maybe this is just MONKEY and CHICKADEE behavior. Maybe I’m falling into a generalization trap which is EVEN NOW sending them dangerous messages about what it means to be male or female!
Except that it turns out to totally be a gender thing.
And I know this because we had another visit from Monkey’s BFF and his brothers, this afternoon, only this time I couldn’t just throw them all in the pool.
One small boy here in the house generates more noise than you might think one small boy could make. But I am here to tell you that four medium boys here in the house makes me want to jab sharp objects through my eardrums. Repeatedly.
And again: It’s not that they’re not good kids, because they are. It’s just… just… SO VERY LOUD. And the things that brothers apparently deem acceptable have just introduced Monkey to a whole new world of behavior. Which is loud. And sometimes a little confusing to me.
Things which I never thought I’d ever have to say to my child and his friends, but which I really and truly said, out loud, this afternoon:
1) Please lower your voices, boys.
2) Boys! I’m glad you’re all having so much fun. Can you please use your inside voices while you’re inside?
3) Monkey, can I see you please? Monkey, you are responsible for your guests. Please remind them that they cannot shriek in the house.
4) Okay! So here’s the deal. Every time one of you screams, I think someone is hurt. And I get worried. I am not enjoying being worried.
5) THE NEXT CHILD WHO SCREAMS WILL BE ESCORTED OUTSIDE TO CONTINUE SCREAMING IN THE WOODS.
6) Please don’t sit on your brother’s head.
7) Please don’t sit on Monkey’s head, either.
8) When I suggested you make sure everyone gets a turn on the Wii, I didn’t actually mean “hand over the wiimote and the rest of you leave.” If he watched you play, you stay and watch him play, or we just won’t use the Wii.
9) The dog is a little bit overwhelmed right now. She may just need a little time to hide under my desk.
10) No, you cannot milk the dog.
11) No, really. She isn’t making milk. Please stop pinching her.
12) Seriously, dude, how would you feel if someone walked into your house and started tweaking your nipples?
13) Please flush the toilet. I know you didn’t flush it because I didn’t hear it flush, that’s how. Do you want to talk about it or do you want to just go flush it?
14) While you’re in there, please wash your hands. Both of them.
15) Please don’t dry your hands on the dog.
16) When I asked you not to sit on your brother’s head, did that indicate to you that shoving his head down and sitting on his back, instead, would be okay with me as an alternative?
17) Look at me, please. When you do this at home, does your mom like it? No? Huh!
18) We are not jumping off of any furniture. At all. IS THAT CLEAR?
19) Please don’t lick anyone.
20) I believe you that you can fit in that drawer, but I’d really rather we not break the drawer making sure.
Monkey had a blast, though I strongly suspect his pals went home and were all, “Mom, you will not BELIEVE what a bitch Monkey’s mom is! She won’t even let us lick each other!!”
And all I’m saying is, I have never had to say any of those things when Chickadee has a bunch of girls here. That’s all.
[Edited to add: Settling in for an evening of quiet and terrible entertainment, Otto and I found… handprints and lick marks all over the television. Ew.]