Boys do some odd things. With two sons of my own, I often ask myself (sometimes aloud), “Why would he do that?” The answer is often: “because… penis.”

#2 on left in 2014, #3 on right yesterday

#2 on left in 2014, #3 on right in 2016

I don’t know whether it’s the y-chromosome (aka: “Why?”-chromosome), the testosterone, or simply the male anatomy to blame. I’m just seeing a connection over here with my boring double-x chromosome.IMG_20140812_183418 (1)

Empty bucket? I would likely fill it with water or sand, not my head or hindquarters. I see my uncovered nether regions? I move on and/or clothe myself, I wouldn’t start shimmying about the room pelvis first, attempt feats of strength with my labia, or pull on my parts like Silly Putty. Boys though, they see these ordinary scenarios as opportunity for experimental enjoyment.


Why does he squirt himself in the face with the hose that has a nozzle set to “Jet”? Why does he lick the floor of the pediatrician’s office? Why is the word “poop” so utterly hilarious? Why is his own genitalia simultaneously humorous and fascinating?

Because penis.

My Son Wants to be a Princess

“What do you want to be for Halloween?” I ask nearly-5-year-old #1. “Hmmm…” she thinks carefully before landing upon her decision, “Aurora from ‘Sleeping Beauty.'” She is concrete in her choice.

“My want to be Rock Star Barbie!” Quips 3-year-old #2. I think of all of the xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, hateful ramblings I’ve encountered online. “Are you sure you want to be Rock Star Barbie? People may not know who she is. Maybe a Rockstar would be more recognizable?” “No. Rockstar BARBIE,” he clarifies in his marble-mouth preschooler accent.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to be Ariel?” #1 interjects. “Oh yeah! My want to be Ariel. Toddler Ariel, like in the movie.” “We already have the costume, Mommy. It’s perfect” #1 negotiates. Yep, perfect.

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Do I have a problem with my son dressing as a mermaid and singing Disney princess songs while twirling about the playroom? Not a bit. Do I care that he readily announces his adoration for Rapunzel in public or carries a doll with him on errands? Not in the least. Do I buy him a truck instead of a Barbie when he requests the doll? Nope, Barbie it is. Do I worry about what others may say to him — not to me — about his sequin-bedecked costume choice? Yes. However, I don’t want him to know that.

I don’t want him to think he needs to or should change himself to defend himself against potential negative backlash. Why should any grown adult care what my child chooses to wear as a Halloween costume? He’s not carrying a weapon or scaring anyone. His costume isn’t age-inappropriate, sexist, racist, or violent. He’s simply dressing up as the lead character from a famous movie. So what, the character wears a seashell bikini top instead of body armor? So what if she has a glimmering mermaid tail instead of metal knuckle-claws, bulging green muscles, or a red cape? C’mon, who doesn’t want to be a mermaid?!

Even though I believe #2 should be able to choose his costume with the same freedom as #1, I worry. I worry because some people are judgmental and cruel. Some people are threatened by that which they don’t, can’t, or refuse to understand. Some people are so set on making things rigid and divided that they become threatened by anything or anyone that exists within the gray areas. They make assumptions — right, wrong, and downright ridiculous — about strangers whose lives they know nothing about.

Still, there are kind people, loving people, supportive people. People who welcome others, who treasure differences, who honor the black, white, and gray areas of life. These are the people I celebrate in our lives. These are the people whose opinions carry any shred of value to me because love (not hate), kindness (not bullying), acceptance (not exclusion) is what I teach my children.

Should I encourage my son to change for fear of the unkind people and what they might say to him, or should I allow him to be a child, to be innocent, to be genuinely himself despite what others may say? Should I imply his preferences are somehow “wrong”, because some individual with whom I in no way agree, believes in sacred social constructs designed to categorize and divide humans into neat, easily digestible boxes? Should I teach him that, instead of being true to himself, that he should acquiesce for the phobic comfort of others? Should I make a 3-year-old’s Halloween costume out to be a life-defining decision?

No. It’s just a Halloween costume. I certainly don’t remember what costume I chose at 3-years-old.  That decision had no lasting impact on my life, why should his be so controversial?

I better get to stitching those loose sequins back on that mermaid tail. #2 will run that costume ragged!

It’s All About Perspective

I had all three kids at the pool yesterday and 3-year-old #2 was comically himself. To see the world through his eyes must be a magical spectacle.

**#1 and #2 are floating about in the pool looking under the water with their goggles. #1 chose a pink pair, whereas #2 chose a blue pair.**

#2: “Mommy, you cold.”

Me: “No, I’m fine. Why do you think I’m cold?”

#2: “You not cold? Why you lips blue?”

Me: (I feel my lips.) “Honey, I don’t think my lips are blue.”

#2: “Yeees.”

Me: “#2, you have blue goggles on. Everything you see looks blue.”

#2: (Looks around with his goggles on) “Oh.” (Paddles off unfazed.)


**#2 just put on his sunglasses and hopped back into the pool.**

#2: “MOMMY!! IT’S DARK!”

Me: (Trying not to laugh) “#2, you’re wearing your sunglasses.”

#2: (Looks at me and cocks his head) “But it’s DARK!”

Me: “Honey, sunglasses make things look darker.”

#2: (Lifts up his sunglasses, looks around, puts them back again, and paddles off.)

Lifeguard: (Utterly losing her sh*t laughing.)

We are, without a doubt, “that family” at the pool.

The “Why?”-Chromosome

Having boys has prompted me to ask “Why?” Numerous times daily. “Why would you eat that?” “Why are you stuck in there?” “Why would you sit in that?” “Why are you up there?” “Why did you put that in there?” “Why are you touching that?” “Why did you think THAT was a good idea?” But most often: “Why would you do that?” This has prompted me to theorize that the y-chromosome is a misnomer; it should, in fact, be labeled the “Why?”-chromosome.

Boys are just wired differently. They see the world through a lense of curiosity. “Touch me”, “Take me apart”, “Climb me”, “See if that fits in me”, “Make me into a weapon” cries the world. So they do.

Unfortunately, I carry no such chromosome. So I am outsider. Unfamiliar with their inner workings and thought processes. I am learning their ways but am most certainly not one of them.

For the “Why?”-chromosome holders, all matter — delicate and grotesque — must be manhandled. Surroundings are dismantled to be understood. Structures, both sound and teetering, are scaled. Holes of all kinds are plugged with the nearest object (or body part). Even the most mundane paraphernalia has a calling to hit, swat, slice, stab, or careen through the air. The world is an interactive, infinite cause-and-effect experiment.

#2 attempting to fit through a dog door

#2 attempting to fit through a dog door

If something is repulsive, that means it’s truly fascinating. If something is vacant or empty, it must be filled… no hole may remain uninhabited. If something is slimy, wet, messy, or germy, it demands a thorough hands-on inspection. Their curiosity knows no bounds.

Their mischief isn’t entirely intentional, it is more often the aftermath of curious minds and fearless hands. Though, sometimes trouble is just too tempting to decline.

To see the world through their untamed, intrigued eyes must be a wonder. Instead, I stand on the sidelines, Band-Aids in one hand, Baby wipes in the other trying not to gag.


Life with #2

“MY STUCK!!” It’s an announcement we hear almost daily in our house. #2 is like a beagle: cuddly, goofy, loyal, curious, and calamity-prone. He gets his elbow stuck in kitchen chair backs, his head stuck under sofas and in buckets (in public… numerous times), his hand stuck in princess teapots, his elbow stuck in ball maze toys, his bum stuck under armoires… he even got his head stuck in between a pew and a column at my mom’s church.

The other day I heard the familiar call from his room. He’d managed to buckle himself into a rocking toy but couldn’t unbuckle himself.

As I freed my bumbling minion, part of me thought: one day I’ll miss freeing him from these mishaps. Then I realized, no… this is life with #2. His body will get bigger, the places he gets stuck will get more impressive, and I will need a bigger tub of Vaseline.