1. No matter how gender-neutral you may try to be with the toys you give them, you really have no control over how gendered they are in their toy selection. When my sister and I handed each of our kids—who were both 18 months old at the time—baby dolls for the first time while shopping at Costco, my niece immediately cradled her dolly while my son looked at his, turned it upside down and then chucked it into the back of the shopping cart.
2. He will not necessarily fall into the “little heartbreaker” vs “girls are yucky” binary. He may just like girls as friends. Teasing him about his girl pals being his girlfriends puts shame on what is actually a really healthy source of friendship for a kid. Some of my oldest son’s best play experiences are with girls, it seems like he gets to let his guard down and relax in ways he doesn’t with boys.
3. Star Wars, even in its hokey 80s glory, is magically timeless.
4. Potty talk is an ever-evolving art. I don’t let them use it too much, because it gets them in trouble in school, but if I hear them laughing over “walking weenis wookie poopy farty pants” in their room with their friends, I try to let them be.
5. Stinky feet start way earlier than you would expect.
6. No matter how much he plays the “tough guy” role, he has very real fears, sensitivities and inner emotional struggles. And while he may say he’s fine in times of struggle, he still suffers and needs a lot of nurturing.
7. Some boys can get dirtier in one short afternoon than you could ever imagine possible. The ring around the bathtub can be terrifying!
8. Being obsessed with weapons and having a stockpile of different types of guns—Nerf, Exploderz, Koosh, Lego, potato, marshmallow, whatever—does not inherently make a child violent. My boys are obsessed with weapons (see the photo they took of their arsenal to the right) but are some of the gentlest children I’ve ever met. My oldest son cried when ants ate the cocoon of a caterpillar he’d been hoping would turn into a butterfly.
9. Legos (or whatever they’re obsessing on at the moment) are the center of their universe. We have a special shelf for the things the kids are most proud of at the moment, be it the Lego Millennium Falcon they spent three months building or a special rock that is actually just a clump of concrete.
10. Even though he’s a boy, that doesn’t mean he’ll end up just like his dad. My youngest son is infuriatingly like me—in both the best and worst ways—and it always feels like the traits we share with our kids are the ones that frustrate us the most. It makes no difference that he’s a boy and looks just like his dad—he still takes after his mama. Luckily he’s got his daddy’s smile and green eyes, so he melts me even when he drives me crazy.
Also read Raising Boys, a Dad’s Advice for Moms
Photos courtesy of the author