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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

There Are No Ten Best Things About Having Boys, Sorry

Dina Relles posted recently on ScaryMommy, who has a huge platform, listing out ten reasons boys are great! Which would be fine, except for that's not what the post was. The post was a blatant, horrid social comparison piece between girls and boys, in which (in the blogger's world) boys emerged as the clear winners. She even starts by saying "gender stuff" is real.

So to her, I say, before you get any legos stuck up in your Batman undies which could also get in a bunch, let's just talk about whether or not "this gender stuff is real." Because it's not.

I mean sure, you throw us a quick sentence link about how not all boys blah and not all girls blah, and then you go on to show how incredibly unique and awesome boys are while painting all girls into one docile, pink corner with your Star Wars laser brush. Come on, now.

In terms of the odd sentences you've heard about boys:
"I only want girls, because boys always leave their mothers."
"I don’t want to have a third, because I don’t want three boys."
"We want to find out what we’re having because we just want to make sure it’s not a boy."
Well, I've never in my life heard those things. Of course, that may be because I have all girls. And I can assure you, those of us with girls get the same darn thing. Oh, and let's talk about those of us with twins. Just take a moment to imagine the kind of talk that goes on about having twins. Okay, good.

Now, I have a little secret of my own: It's freaking fun to KIDS. Boys, girls, whatever, doesn't matter because they are individuals! So, onto your list:

1) The toys are cooler. False. The toys that marketers deem boy toys may be cooler if that's what your child is into. I know plenty of adorable five-year-old boys who love to dress up as princesses and play in the toy kitchen. Princesses might not be real, but fancy clothing sure is, and so is food. Also, trucks and ambulances and buses and whatever aren't just for boys, dude. This has been making the rounds forever, since it's, you know, 2014, and the message is correct and clear:

2) Getting out of the house is easier. You mention shoes, and barrettes, and tights and braids, in comparison to your pants / shirt combo. But there are boys who have mohawks, and boys who have long hair, and boys who do actually care about what they wear. On the other hand  you have my girls:

No barrettes, or braids, or shoes, or even matching clothes. And no effs given.

3) Public restrooms. Here you say "enough said," but actually, that's not enough for me. I have no idea how public restrooms are more awesome for boys than girls. First off, they're totally grosser. Little guy might not have to sit on a seat, but what are the odds that puddle he just stepped in is water? Also, when girls are little and need their moms to take them to the restroom, we don't have to deal with shady people being stupid about whether or not we bring a boy into the ladies' room. (Which is ridiculous and shouldn't happen, and yet it still does.) Anyway, point being, kids of a certain age know how to use a restroom and not to touch anything and everything should be fine, regardless of men's or ladies'.

4) Even if they're all the same sex, they're NOT all the same. Correct. I know this is shocking, but this is true for girls, too. My girls have as much energy as any kids I've ever seen, and I've, for years, said boys will be boys? Nah. Kids will be kids.

5) It’s good to parent someone who’s not like you. "It’s a healthy challenge to raise someone different than you. To try to relate. To understand where they’re coming from. Having two girls gets me out of my comfort zone, and out of my head, to embrace a more physical, tactile approach to the world. And notice things I normally wouldn’t. Like the shape of the rocks near the shoreline. Or the number of red pick-up trucks we pass on a drive up the Turnpike.

My girls are mischievous and spirited. Curious and carefree. They are energy and wonder and play. They need to move and do instead of just be. They will not sit still and just talk. Or listen. But boy do they know how to live life out loud. They’re good for me."

^^Hey! I fixed that for you! And all I had to do was replace the word boys with girls! Looks like our kids would get along, eh? Just because my girls are girls and I am also a girl does not mean we are like each other. At all.

6) We have each other, we moms of boys.

Okay, what are we even doing here? I like my friends' who have boys FB posts about their rowdy little dudes. And they like my posts about having to carry my twins football style out of the Pharmacy because I won't buy them the Hot Wheels they wanted.

Like I really, really hate to keep harping on the same point you keep harping on, but I'd be right in there with you with your 'knowing eye rolls.' And I'm just not sure what world you're living in if you think the girl teenage cliches are any better. Another life-changer, here, you know, I'll also someday be a mother-in-law. As far as being envious of people with It's a Girl Balloons and pigtails, I guess you've got me there. I'd never be envious of any baby, or baby paraphernalia. As far as I'm concerned, I am almost free.

7) They can have it all. YOU SAY: "Or at least have an easier time trying. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think women can’t try to do and have it all—they should. I’ve been there. Done that. Outgrown the (collared) t-shirt. I’ve witnessed firsthand the unparalleled intelligence and efficiency of women who are mothers AND professionals. But I don’t pretend it’s not harder. Would I want my (theoretical) daughter to be a surgeon or a litigator? Not sure. My sons? Go for it."

Okay, this is just the most indescribable crap. What even is this steaming plate of garbage on my computer screen right now? By the time my girls are adults, society (with no help from you, apparently) will hopefully have come farther in allowing fluidity in gender roles, more lenient maternity and paternity leaves, women will make the same as men, and even now, even now, you're right, we can be intelligent and efficient and be mothers. While you get to be happy that your boys can be surgeons and litigators, I'll be working my motherly ass off to make that the same case for my girls.

But what really gets me here, what really gets me, is that you're not sure you'd want your daughter to be a surgeon or a litigator. 1) Why the hell not? 2) It doesn't matter what we, as parents, want our children to be. That's their choice. And 3) Attitudes like yours make my job a lot harder. So thanks. It's my favorite when people perpetuate gender stereotypes because they think they're 'realists.'

8) Boys speak their mind.  You say, blah blah blah, you prefer the company to men than women, they get right to the point, no chatter and--

I just have to stop you right there. Because even if you didn't have boys, apparently you'd still be a dick.

Then you talk about how they may not call you every day (by the way, my husband calls his mother more than I call mine), but when they do, they'll get right to the point. (Because girls apparently will only want to talk about their nail polish and shoes?) And my favorite:

"Have boys. Not bullshit."

Did you just call my kids bullshit? Or did you call the habits you just randomly assigned them based on their gender bullshit? Either's bullshit.

9) They love their mamas in a special way. So. Do. Girls. (Man, I feel like a broken record.)

10) They’re your children, after all. "No matter how many of what kind you have, you’ll love them all fiercely, instinctively, and without effort. They will amaze you and delight you. Every single day. And you won’t be able to imagine your family any other way."

Well, I mean, you didn't even try with that one. As much as all of these are all-kid things, this one is an obvious one.

You may not have pictured yourself being a mom of all boys. I didn't picture myself being a mom at all, least not to twin girls. And we love it.

...It's not that your kids aren't special. They are! I'm not trying to take that away from you. But drawing the gender line and using the arbitrary societal ideology to do so is really saddening to me. Your kids aren't special because they're boys. They're special because they are yours.



  1. I have three boys. Then when my oldest boy was 16 I had a girl. Night and day! Or not. no, actually not night and day in terms of the boys versus my girl. Just four kids. All different from each other. My little girl LOVES frilly pick dress up and wants to wear only shoes with sparkles on them. When my oldest was 4 he used to dress up in my clothes and wore a skirt to pre-K. When my second son was 6 his favorite color was pink and he wore barrettes in his lovely blonde hair sometimes. When my Third son was 6 he sometimes had me do his long hair in a ponytail and called himself by a distinctly female name. Are any of them less boy? Heck no. Now they preen their facial hair and are more meticulous about their anti-hipster clothes than I have ever been. They all fuss at me for being so slovenly and tell me to wear makeup sometimes. First one is a writer. Second one is an artist. Third is a guitar player. My daughter is a crafter. And this family plays video games. All of us including me and my daughter.
    I dont know how anyone can still think there's gender crap truisms. My daughter may love hair bands and sparkly shoes but she also loves her nerf crossbow. My son may love his moustache but he also loves My Little Pony.

    so STFU Scarymommy. Your three boys aint got nothing on mine. Im not sharing those "eye rolling moments" with you.

  2. I think I love you! I have triplets, two girls and a boy, and seeing both genders grow up in exactly the same environment with the same toys, same experiences, and same opportunities, I feel I can say with certainty that kids are just kids - not boy kids or girl kids - when we let them just be kids.

  3. Hi -
    Thanks so much for writing this post. As a mother to a boy and girl, as someone who own a business with apparel dedicated to breaking down gender stereotypes, and as an author who works hard to raise awareness on these issues with parents and teachers I say a very loud THANK YOU!

    Scary Mommy has a huge platform and the original post was completely irresponsible. When you believe these gender stereotypes, when you teach them to your kids, when you pass them on to other parents you directly harm children. I've worked with hundreds of kids over twenty+ years, I am raising my own boy and girl, and the one thing I know for sure is that when we see children as unique individuals as opposed to genders we see them for who they truly are and all that they can be.

    Great job on this rebuttal,
    Melissa Atkins Wardy

  4. YES! thank you.
    I have a 3 year old boy and 1 year old girl. she loves his trucks and he loves her princess towels. i love them loving and doing and being whatever they choose.

  5. Just for the record, that wasn't a post written by Scary Mommy (Jill). Jill has 2 boys and a girl, I believe. It was a guest post written by Dina Relles. I personally found point 7 especially upsetting since the author, herself, is a lawyer.

    1. THANK YOU for letting me know about this! I'm not a devout follower of Scary Mommy, I just remember reading various pieces of hers over the years and liking them. As you can see, I had a lot of trouble reconciling this post with her blogging persona. I will correct this attribution, right now.

  6. There is so much wrong with #7 it deserves it's own post.
    She could have written it as "It's more socially acceptable for them to choose career instead of family" or "It's OK for them to be workaholics because their wives will pick up the slack!"
    This chick's sons are going to grow up to be assholes.

  7. I love this and I have all boys! Boy toys are cooler? Not according to my boys. My little pony and littlest pet shop were way cooler to them. When my youngest was 4 the only thing he wanted for Christmas was a kitchen. He's 10 now and loves to be in the real kitchen helping cook. I'm ok with that because that means when he's an adult and moves out he'll know how to feed himself. Why can't a girl be a surgeon or a litigator or a construction worker. If I had a daughter I would never discourage her dreams.

    Thank you for writing this article

  8. When my daughter gets old enough to play with shit (she's only six months old) I'm praying she's into the toys marketed for girls because I WANT TO PLAY WITH ONE OF THOSE NEW GODDAMNED SKY DANCERS. Bullshit the boys toys are cooler. SKY DANCERS. THEY DANCE IN THE SKY.

  9. I love this! Thank you! I have two girls two (not twins) and I feel blessed. If I had two boys, or one of each, I would feel blessed too! Kids are kids, I agree :)

  10. So very, very well written.

    Here's an example of my boys and girls: oldest boy and girl walk to school with me. Motorbike starts up in the driveway near the school. Oldest boy grabs my hand, thinks it's going to run him over. Oldest girl ignores it completely. Later, weeding in the yard with youngest girl and boy. Motorbike drives past. Youngest girl comes to hide behind me because the noise is scary. Youngest boy jumps up and down with delight and goes 'weee!'

    Four children with completely different personalities. Who knew?

  11. I'm so glad someone wrote this... I have all boys and I was really disappointed in her blog, I'd been looking for something else... not a blog that made girls seem inferior. It was so weird!!!

  12. Good God does everyone have to get so offend by everything these days? Well she was right you certainly did get your Cinderella panties in a bunch didn't you

    1. It's true, her whole blog is based on satire. If you are easily offended don't read. I love scary mommy. If you take it with a grain of salt thats best. And I think the public bathroom thing meant with boys anyplace can become a public restroom. (Within reason). Haha.

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