The joys of boys

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.
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.]


  1. Misty

    LMAO!!! I am the mother of two boys (almost 12 and 14) and a daugther (9.5). I have said these things all of them. My favorite was “Don’t play with dead animals.” I said this to my daughter. After she showed her Dad a dead mole in the yard and he encouraged her to show it to Mommy too!!
    This list is priceless!

  2. meghann

    As a mom of two of each, I can back up that it totally IS a gender thing. All the males in our house are out camping tonight, so it’s just me and my girls. My house hasn’t been this quiet, in, EVER.

    Also, I say #’s 1, 6, 13, 14, 18, and 19, often.

    I’ve also been known to have to tell them to not ride the cat.

  3. Dsilkotch

    With my boy the noise issue isn’t volume, it’s quantity. He just talks A LOT. But only at home, apparently. At least Monkey has friend-making skills — my Luke consistently rebuffs all attempts made by his schoolmates to befriend him. I’m hoping that will change as he moves into adolescence; it did for his sister.

  4. Jen

    I have two boys, ages 9 and 6. I have said almost all of those phrases, or some version of them, at least once in the last several weeks. Well, maybe not milk the dog…no…wait…I have said that. Sigh. I’m also well-known for saying “don’t touch your brother’s penis” and “please stop farting in each others’ faces” and “put the basketball and broom back in the garage, you are NOT playing CalvinBall in the HOUSE!”
    I’ve been told I’m a killjoy.

  5. navhelowife

    Heh. I have three boys. My house? Is SO DARN NOISY. I really like your list, it makes me feel not so alone in the world :)

  6. Jane

    I have a boy and a girl, so I understand. The Loud part, I get. Also, may I say that Karen had The Best 1st comment ever! teehee

  7. mrs shortcake

    When I worked in different childcares, I totally noticed this. Even the youngest of baby boys treated their toys and playmates differently than the little girls. I think the “vrrmmm” sound come along with the Y chromosome, in fact! ;)

  8. Caroline

    Statement I never thought would come out of my mouth but did today “Do not pick your brothers nose. I don’t care if he doesn’t mind. It’s gross!!!” Mother to 2 boys, 6 and 7. Pray for me.

  9. jen

    My girls had birthday parties that were all about dressing up and jewelry. My teen/preteen boys had a party and played football for 2 hours and the house smelled like a locker room.

  10. Rasselas

    I have only two words: poor Licorice.

  11. Karate Mom

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! What a great list!!
    The other day I actually said, “You can hypnotize your sister AFTER you feed the dog!” and it totally made sense!
    Aaaah, the joy of children!

  12. meghann

    I had to comment again to say that Karen’s hilarious comment totally outs her as being a mom to a daughter, and not a son.

    Moms with only girls were probably astonished. Moms that have boys read that and went “Yeah, I could see that.”

  13. Lucinda

    Mom to one of each here. Laughing at meghann because “Yeah, I could see that” totally went through my head. It amazes me the things my son and his friends do that they think are perfectly reasonable and how they look at me and say “what?” when I tell them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing. Boys truly are just louder. And they don’t even realize it.

  14. Cele

    Poor Licorice. Poor Mir, lucky us. Especially because I dont’ have boys at home. ahhh. The down side is that after years of quietness, my ears bleed for Sunday evening when Psam picks him up after a weekend.

  15. Kim W.

    I have three boys, and we live next door to another, and two more live across that street, and one more across that street, and why is it that they all are so dang comfortable coming here all the time?

    Since your last LOUD post, I have been hearing your writing voice almost everyday… THE LOUD.


    You’re keeping me sane, Mir.

  16. JMH

    Yep…I am always amazed at how QUIET and CALM my daughters parties are compated to my sons….Love the list and yes, I have said some of those comments too :)

  17. JMH

    COMPARED, not compated….oops!!

  18. Barbara

    I have 4 boys (ages 2-10). I see nothing unusual in your post. ; ) Have a good day.

  19. karen

    Milking the dog, huh?

  20. Susanne

    I somehow don’t really believe it’s a gender thing but then I have only one boy, and when he does so much as clank a spoon repeatedly against a glass I have fits. Now I know why every other mother around here always tells me, “Oh yes, can your son visit again? he is so nice and quiet.” and every time we have children around (of any gender) I feel like piercing my eardrums. Only I still need them for work.

    My poor boy…

  21. My Kids Mom

    Um, yeah. I hate that I have learned that boys and girls are just Different. From birth. I didn’t believe it, even as a teacher, until I had my own. Even tho one of my boys is relatively quiet and calm, in a group he is still “All Boy.” (oh, my aching feminism. Can’t believe I said that!)

    We regularly swap babysitting with another family and I take in their two boys, stairsteped in age with my own.

    Oh. My. Aching. Ears. I just have to do deep breathing and try to relax and let them go– until someone gets hurt– which WILL happen if you wait long enough.

  22. Em

    I loved this post! I am hoping there is some age component here though because I have had to tell my daughter to untie her brother, do not force her other brother to lick a potato and to unlock the basement door or I will have to call the police. She’s 8 (maybe 5 or 6 at the time. The stairs to the exit door in the basement were temporarily torn out. We were stuck.) When there is a loud bang in our house, we are lesss likely to hear “I’m ok!” from my sons as “I didn’t do it!” from my daughter. What do they call that? Spirited? Yeah. Lucky me, my daughter is spirited.

  23. Deirdre

    Hahahaha! I’ve said a lot of those things, plus most recently, “No, you can’t play air hockey with pool balls” (on the pool table). When that is followed up by an orthopedist saying, “How did a pool ball do that to your hand?”, it’s kind of mortifying. Only one broken finger, thankfully.

  24. The Domestic Goddess

    Welcome to every single day of my life with two boys. Soooooo much fun.

  25. The Other Leanne

    Boy 1: “You’re lying!”
    Boy 2: “No, that’s how girls’ boobs work! I saw my Aunt Cheri with her new baby.”
    Boy 3: “Hey, the dog is a girl, let’s see if it’s true.”
    Mir: “No, really. She isn’t making milk. Please stop pinching her.”

    Just guessing.

  26. Sarah G.

    Three boys and one girl over here. It’s not so much the surprising statements as the bizarre rules I have to lay down. Current favorite “Don’t sniff yours or anyone else’s armpits at the dinner table.” True story and I have had to invoke it since it’s creation.

  27. PattiH

    I just want to know, did you try to write while the boys were playing? That’s what I do … literally in the same room. I can tune out just about anything except the words “blood” and “ice pack”.

  28. suzie

    I have 2 girls. Occasionally, they have friends over who are louder than them. But i have never had the above-described level of chaos.

    I am not jealous!!

  29. Amy

    I have one 4-year-old daughter. She is (and will continue to be) an only child. Whenever we have overnight guests with kids, even though we have a really big house, I want to go hide in the woods after a day or so. Last weekend we had two, um, *energetic* and lovely kids staying with us. While it was great for us adults to hang out while the kids were playing, the NOISE and intense energy level was almost too much for me to handle.

  30. Kerri

    This made me laugh out loud.
    I, like Barbara, am the mother of four boys. I also see nothing out of the ordinary in this post.

  31. Anne

    I have a girl and a boy. My daughter has SPD (sensory processing disorder, for those not in the know) – she has the “ultra-sensitive” version where everything bothers her. Even the smallest pain, like lightly taps her arm against the door as she passes, will make her cry out and almost fall to the floor sobbing. A quick “Are you okay?” and a hug usually resettles her. Otherwise she’s a typical girl – plays with her dolls, solves puzzles and laughs at everything.

    My son, on the other hand, is a rough-and-tumble three year old who I believe is out to kill himself. I’ve caught him tight-rope walking across the back of our couch, kneeling ontop of my desk and writing on my computer monitor with a ballpoint pen (thankfully, it came off or I would have killed him myself), doing somersaults off of the arm of the couch, throwing himself backwards onto his bed (he learned quickly to watch out for the wall – ouch!)….the list goes on. I’ve asked him a few times, “J, are you trying to kill yourself?” He smiles angelically up at me and replies, “Yup, mama. I trying to kill myself.” and then he gives me that pumpkin grin that melts my heart. ;-)

    So, yeah, there is a difference between boys and girls. My sister comments often about how she’s glad that I’m “Letting J be a boy” and not “sissy-fying him”. As if I have a choice! Please! Sometimes I have to turn away and not watch him do some death-defying feat because yes, boys are programmed to do those crazy things. And mama…well, mama’s going to need some hair color by the time he’s 18. ;-)

  32. Little Bird

    I have 2 boy cousins, and one girl cousin,who were like silings when we were all kids. I could always tell how deep of trouble the boys were in by whether or not their moms used their middle names when reprimanding them. I have no idea what my girl cousin’s name is, and I doubt the boys could tell you mine. This is the difference between boys and girls.

  33. Mamadragon

    I have had to say many strange and wonderful things to my daughters, but I have never had to say to them, as I say to my son ON A DAILY BASIS, “Are you being a poohead?” The answer is usually a matter-of-fact, “Yes”, followed by, “WELL QUIT IT!”

    Boys are a whole ‘nother species, that’s for sure.

  34. Tracy K

    I have 2 grandsons who torture me daily with the ear splitting shrieking thing…..they are 4 1/2 & 5….the younger one has a baby sister that is 2….I’d like a nickle for every time I’ve had to say “Stop poking the baby and making her scream”…..but a first in my house was a few days ago after giving the boys a bath….(the oldest one is VERY proud of his male equipment!) “NO!! I DO NOT want to see your Mr. Pee Pee DANCE!!! Now GET OUT OF THE TUB!!!” btw…LOVE your blog! You make me smile every day!

  35. Brigitte

    DD and any friend who is over do run around and emit the most painful ear-piercing shrieks, so she’s plenty noisy.

    But when she plays with the neighbor boys (only neighborhood kids her age), it IS a lot rougher and something is sure to get broken. I’ve already had to coach her on not getting TOO angry with them if it was an accident, because . . these things just happen around boys. We try to keep ’em outside, at least. :-)

  36. momzen

    I’m with Barbara and Kerri. When you live full time with four boys, this is the norm. (We always threaten to leave one or two of them behind, because, after all… we have spares.

  37. momzen


  38. s

    oh yes, yes yes – totally relate although my girl when she is in the midst of it is VERY LOUD too, but not comparable to the boy mayhem. I constantly have to tell one of my boys to LOWER his voice when playing wii – why does he have to be so DARN LOUD about it?

    ear plugs…maybe that would help?? I always think to myself that kid will never come back bc all I feel like I say is no, quiet, no, we don’t eat in there, we don’t climb on furniture, helmets on please, no, no, QUIET DOWN

  39. bonuela

    i have none, and i like it that way, but from being in public, i’ve got to say i prefer boy noise. girls have that high pitched squeal that makes my want to cry. i KNOW it’s a happy sound, but it still makes my ears bleed.

  40. Katie in MA

    Trying not to laugh. Really. You are so lucky that they didn’t start trying to milk each other when you asked how they would like it. Boys!

  41. Momma Chaos

    I’m still cleaning up the mess on my computer screen when I spit tea at it reading that they tried to milk the dog.. omglmao.

    In my vast experience (ha), boys are just louder and rougher and more prone to breaking things (bones, toys, beds, doors..). I have 3 boys and 3 girls. My girls are like Chickadee- quieter with the exception of the tantrums thrown in occasionally. They are hormone central – I’m having a hard enough time with 1 teen girl, when the other two hit their teens I may move out. My boys are like Monkey- I don’t know how many times I have compared each of them separately to a herd of elephants. They are just LOUD.

  42. Bean Counter

    This post is totally spot on. I have three boys and think I have seen everything (I haven’t!). Just to ease your mind, I haven’t had to tell the older two to quit licking each other since they went to college, in separte towns. So they do out grow it.

  43. Loth

    I have two boys and I think reached the high point of boy-dom when they were aged about 6 and 4 and I had to yell “Stop peeing on your brother!” (The joys of synchronised toilet visits……)

  44. Rachel

    I taught preschool for years, and I fully believe that most boys are simply wired differently than most girls. But I’m not willing to say that it’s the hard and fast rule… I grew up with a sister, and the two of us were (and still are) less like the stereotypical girl and more like boys. My dad used to say that we were “like bored labradors.”

    I think most kids’ natural behavior and interests are strongly influenced by their chromosomes… but not 100% determined by them.

  45. Pamela L

    This is priceless – I have 2 boys that are grown now but, oh lord, the noise they could make and when all the friends were over – whew! It’s a wonder I’m not completely deaf. Now that they are gone, the silence is deadening. Because despite it all, it’s fun to see them having so much fun.

  46. becky

    I will very soon have two boys. Oh the joys that await me.

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