I like boys, always have. A lot.
Growing up, I had two brothers, one half-brother, and one stepbrother, and I was the only girl. It was kinda like a twisted, Testosterone-centric Brady Bunch with me as Marcia, Jan, and Cindy rolled into one wretched, hormonal distaff package.
Sometimes it was agony, like when one of them would tickle me to the point of torture and then spit in my open mouth as I howled in distress. Sometimes it was ecstasy, like when one of them drove me to grad school in Chicago, moved all my furniture into my apartment, assembled my bookshelves (“Some Assembly Required” being my three least favorite consecutive English words), and then introduced me to gin and tonics down at Mother’s on Rush Street.
These brothers of mine delighted in telling me everything I ever wanted to know about sex but was afraid to ask — naturally scarring me for life (trust me, I’m scarrred).
We had belching contests, lit farts, watched Animal House and The Exorcist waaaaay before I was ready (more scars), and rocked out to The Who and Led Zeppelin. I will never forget the heady mix of exhilaration and terror I felt, clinging for dear life to my older brother’s leather jacket when he finally consented (after hours of my begging) to take me for a breakneck motorcycle ride.
But let’s be clear: I was never a tomboy. I did all of these things wearing a tutu and with my French braids firmly in place and my lip gloss just so. And — to be perfectly clear — I then became that scary little girl who chases hapless, wide-eyed boys around the playground angling for a kiss. I was boy-crazy.
So. When it was finally time for me to become a mother, I really wanted to have a boy. It pains me to make this admission now that I have a beautiful and brilliant daughter without whom I now know my life would never be complete. But the truth is that when I found out during an ultrasound about 15 years ago that I was having a girl and not a boy, I was disappointed.
Not only was I boy-crazy, but I also knew that any daughter of mine might very possibly turn out like me, and — let me just tell you — my mom and I didn’t have much fun during my teenage years. It might just be easiest to describe our relationship as “fraught” and leave it at that.
Plus, I had this idea that little boys love their mommies and give them lots of sweetie kisses and hugs. Whatever. I had a girl and fell madly in love with her instantly and we’ve been madly in love ever since — except, of course, as those teenage years advance and our relationship has become increasingly “fraught.” So it goes.
But wait, there’s more. Three years, nine months, and 22 days after our girl was born, I had a boy. A cutie, funny, precious, bouncing baby boy. Awwww. We were so happy; we had the girl and the boy. And considering that both of them were cry-'til-you-puke colicky, we were very happy to stop procreating right there with our two perfect children in hand.
Now, remember when I was growing up with Beavis and Butt-head and all their friends? Well, even though I loved (almost) every minute of their grossness, I always felt very strongly deep down that no son of mine would ever:
A) Pick his nose and wipe the boogers on the wall above his bed;
B) Forget to flush after pooping;
C) Love the smell of his own farts;
D) Belch at the table;
E) Heartily bellow four-letter words in front of his mother;
F) Leave stinky socks and/or skivvies in strangely unexpected places;
G) Desperately dash to the bathroom while the rest of us clear the table;
H) Spit that chalky toothpaste/saliva mixture all over the faucet and let it dry;
I) Urinate in public.
Do you see where this is going? I’m sure you probably do. And, yes, I was such an amazing parent before I actually had children. Weren’t you?
So, to put you out of your suspenseful misery, I will now tell you that my cutie, funny, precious now 10-year-old son has proudly accomplished all of the above. I can still remember the exact moment about four years ago when I was making my son’s bed and I saw them — the boogers, smeared across the wall with Jackson Pollock-like artistry. Curious, I leaned in and . . . *gagh* ... I knew what I was in for.
But there’s good news — and here it is: The thing that makes dealing with all the janky bodily fluids more palatable? My boy calls me Mama and sometimes gives me sweetie kisses and hugs. Still. We have a daily morning cuddle and it is almost always the best part of my day.
I remember my friend Erika’s wise mother, Wendy, telling me a few years ago that her grown daughter was her best friend — the best friend she could ever have hoped for — but that her son was, and will always be, her heart.
I thought about that this morning as I watched my boy walk across the playground into his school, with his tangled bedhead and stinky morning breath: There goes my heart.
I can’t wait until he and I can watch Animal House together.