"Boys are different." It was refrain I heard many times when I was pregnant with my now 21-month-old son, Sam. My daughter was almost 3 when he was born, and because she was my first and only, I figured all kids were pretty much like her: adventurous but initially cautious of new situations, overtly emotional (or should I say erratic?), and in my mind, wild because she was into everything, was constantly dancing and gyrating, and was often seen wearing few, if any, clothes. But, almost two years later, I've learned there's a difference between spirited and wild. My daughter is the former, and my son is most definitely the latter. He's all boy, and man, boys are different. Here (in my experience, which has been corroborated with many a mom-of-boys friend) is why.
- Boys keep you running. My daughter was busy, but she didn't have nearly the speed my son has developed in his short life. And that's why, in the last few months, I've begun feeling real empathy for those parents who put their kids on leashes. Pretty much every mom and teacher at my daughter's preschool know Sam's first name because they see me darting around the halls yelling it at drop-off and pick-up every single day. Turn my head for two seconds to, say, kiss my daughter goodbye or hang up her school bag, and bam, he's gone, searching through classrooms, hiding behind desks, or finding a stray Sharpie. Parking lots are an even bigger disaster, but no matter our location, these days you'll most likely see me in ready position: knees bent, legs wide, and arms out.
- Everything's a weapon. My daughter loves stuffed animals and dolls. My son prefers any object, toy or not, that could be used to hit someone over the head with blunt force. Sticks, brooms, and plastic guitars are his personal favorites, but he'll make do with whatever he can find. If he can only score something round and small, he's not bothered. He'll just throw it at your head instead.
- Their motto: the dirtier the better. There's not a day that goes by that, at some point, I don't cringe when I pick up my son. Sometimes it's because he's decided to pour an entire glass of milk or juice down the front of his shirt. Other times, his finger painting project at our gym's childcare has gone seriously rogue, or he's found an open toilet and decided to sample the water . . . with his mouth. He prefers to eat yogurt by the handful and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches inside out, licking the jelly off first. At our house, bath time is never optional.
- They are fearless. It took my daughter almost three years to go down a slide by herself without a prolonged internal struggle. My son went down his first slide, which included a rather dangerous and extended climb up an open ladder, at 18 months. I didn't even notice until he was halfway down (mom of the year over here). Before his first birthday, he was quite happy to jump in a pool, whether an adult was watching or not, wildly approach animals of all shapes and sizes, and launch himself off coffee tables, beds, and stairs, confident that either someone would catch him or he'd survive the fall.
- Climbing is their favorite pastime. There's nothing in my house that my son hasn't tried to climb, including my own body. But he really hit the jackpot last week when he realized he could move our kitchen counter stools around the first floor to reach even greater heights. I took my eyes off him for 30 seconds and he had pushed his new find over to the refrigerator and was switching off pushing our refrigerator's ice and water buttons. Yet another fun clean-up project for mommy.
- They shake it off. While my daughter's favorite song might be "Shake It Off", my son literally embodies the spirit of the song. Fell down a few stairs? He'll walk it off. Ran head first into a table? He'll give it a quick rub, and he's off and running. Even the scariest spills warrant just a few tears and quick hug from mom, and that makes him kind of awesome.
- They love their mamas. I expected to immediately bond with my daughter (we have the same parts, and I could already imagine how fun our future shopping excursions would be!), but I wasn't as sure how I'd feel about my newborn son. Luckily he made it easy on me, deciding that I was his favorite person on the planet at first sight and sticking to that decision for good (or at least for the entirety of his 21 months). Add in the constant unsolicited hugs and kisses and the fact that he, unlike his sister, is totally fine with whatever outfit I decide he should wear and whatever hairstyle tickles my fancy, and he's won my heart for life. Even when he's beating me over the head.