Spice Up Your Inbox. Subscribe Today.

enter your email address:


By Laura Brownson

I won’t lie. From the get-go, I’ve been boy crazy. I was daddy’s girl. Then around sixth grade, I fell madly for David Wright who rode me around on the handle-bars of his BMX bike. But we fell apart the following year when I met Rex Hancock who was the only boy who could beat me in a running race. Rex lost out to Casey Frye who could break-dance like nobody’s business. Serial monogamy personified. So, the fact that I have two sons should seem like a natural progression for me. In fact, one could argue that I’ve been practicing for this role my entire life. Yet, I am constantly struggling with the basics of boy behavior and ever-confounded by what is ‘boy behavior’ versus what is just ‘MY boys’ behavior.’

When I set out on this journey of motherhood, I REALLY, TRULY believed that we should NEVER put our kids in categories. I thought the whole girl versus boy thing was a myth. I believed girls would like trucks as much as boys would like dolls, if only given the chance to discover the alternate side of their personalities. And that was my job, of course, to be the all-wise, uber-sensitive, completely open-minded mother. I would encourage my boys to discover their full selves, never allowing them to be limited by society and it’s gender-based restrictions.

Then I had Cade. Cade is all boy. He exhibits every stereotypically male behavior – short of leaving the toilet seat up and scratching his private parts – and he has since the day he was born. He never wanted to snuggle. As soon as he gained a semblance of interest in this world, he (now almost 3) loved all things mechanical with a particular penchant for cranes. He had the equivalent of a baby-orgasm the day that he discovered a crane outside the window of our Chelsea apartment. When the kids began socializing, Cade was pushing, pulling and for a brief time, biting! I was horrified. Where had he learned such aggressive behavior?

When I introduced a doll into our house hoping to soften the blow of the new baby’s arrival, his favorite game was to throw the doll on the ground and say, “baby got a boo boo.” He loves tools, cars and his favorite color is blue for god’s sake.

When my second son, Cooper, was born, I saw a very different child. Cooper’s temperament is far more even-keeled. For a long, luscious time, he loved to cuddle with me. But as Cooper has grown, the ‘boy’ is emerging. No longer does my 9 month-old cuddle or EVER sit still. His absolute favorite activity is wrestling with his brother. He climbs on top, no matter how scary the potential consequence, and grabs Cade’s hair, pulling with every fiber of his baby muscles. No matter how many times his brother pushes him down, Cooper gets up and goes back for more. It terrifies me. Where’s the tenderness? The gentleness? The softness?

I hate labels more than anything. I am loathe to say that my experience shows that boys tend to be more aggressive while girls tend to be more passive. It kills me. Actually, it embarrasses me. I know there are many exceptions, but at least in my household, my guys are ‘guys.’ Raising boys has given me a whole new perspective on men – something that I never learned from David, Rex, Casey or even my husband Scott. Something about the force of masculinity. It is powerful and at times, difficult stuff. It gives me greater insight into why the world is the way that it is. Good, bad or indifferent, a world run by men is very different than a world run by women or a combination of the sexes.

Now none of this may be revolutionary. For me, it’s a simple ‘ah-ha.’ And it still may be possible that it’s MY boys, rather than MOST boys. Either way, as long as I’m around, you can bet that I’ll be working overtime to teach my guys how to find alternative voices, how to negotiate the world in a non-violent fashion, how to tune in to their emotional lives, and yes, god willing, how to love the color pink.


3 Responses to trying to find the pink in all this blue

  • Sam says:

    i too was shocked that my son was such a “boy”. i really had no idea that they are just wired so entirely differently than girls. my moms-of-boys friends and i always laugh at our moms-of-girls friends who really do think that we have devil spawns for children. really so puzzled as to why paolo doesn’t just sit quietly and color or play dress-up and why in gods name is he smashing everything? a not so great thing happened at school where paolo was lying on top of this little girl and he wouldn’t get off and she was crying. there is this “counsellor” at our school who observes the kids and she told me that this was not good and that little paolo did not show remorse. of course i was traumatized by this comment (i’m thinking sociopath!) and i immediately phoned my therapist friends. after assuring me that it was all very normal and remorse is not necessarily all that big in the three year old world, my friend warner thought for a moment and said: “you know, i was well into my twenties before i stopped lying on top of girls and making them cry.” i laughed so hard!

  • Jordana Bales says:

    I also always believed that gender was all learnt. That is until I, like you, had a child and joined a play group. Boys and girls just are BORN differently (a topic I actually spend quite a bit of time discussing in my AP Psych class). For a fascinating read on the topic check out "As Nature Made Him" – a biography about an identical twin boy who was "turned into" a girl during infancy due to a circumcision gone bad. And don't even get me started on my latest gender obsession – intersexuals!

  • Vicki says:

    Having quite a bit of the "boy crazy" gene myself, I always thought that if I were to have a baby….I'd want a boy. Well, maybe I'm crazy, but even after reading this, I STILL DO…or would. That is, if I actually want any kids at all? I kinda think they're all slightly nuts, and I really can't imagine waking up as early as one might need to in that "situation". Besides, my friends are having enough kids. Why should I?

    Honestly, though, I really think there's something amazing about little boys and the way they interact with the big bad world. Maybe it's because I'm envious of the way they "play", even as adults. Anyway….fun reading! And thanks for the heads up! yikes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

kelcey kintner