When you have a girl, you know that you can always fall back on your own childhood memories to guide you as a parent. But unless you grew up with a brother, there's a good chance that parts of raising a boy can take you by surprise. From the sports obsession to the penis comparisons, here are 20 things we wish we'd known.
There will be planes, trains and automobiles
Even if you stock your nursery with mixed-gender toys like baby dolls and play kitchens, your little boy will find the one rogue wheeled toy and play with it nonstop. Little boys adore anything that flies, sails, drives, digs or mixes.
Before you know it, you'll find yourself pointing out vehicles on the street ("Look! A firetruck!") -- and you'll know you can kill twenty minutes just watching a construction site. Matchbox cars and trucks will multiply on their own in your home, boats will line your bathtub and odds are there will be a train track looping around your floor. It really is hard-wired.
Boys don't stop moving
From the moment they come bouncing into your bed at 5:30 in the morning until they pass out at bedtime, boys go. Sometimes it seems like they have only two speeds -- fast and faster. This means that your toddler could be sitting on the floor shaking a rattle one minute and when you turn your head, he will have summitted the dining room table.
When he darts ahead on the sidewalk, you'll be terrified that he's going to run headlong into traffic and your heart will stop regularly as he nearly misses crashing into people and trees. This fear only rises as he becomes old enough to ride a scooter, trike and skateboard. He may not ever slow down, but you will learn to pick up the pace.
Clothes shopping is easy -- and cheap!
Leggings, tights, dresses, skirts, blouses, bows, headbands, ballet flats, sandals, sneakers, ruffle-butt diaper covers -- the list of possible adorable items you can dress your little girl in is endless and can get expensive. Boys? Well, there are pants (cargos, jeans and cords), sneakers and T-shirts (long sleeves or short sleeves depending on the season).
There are no outfits. Everything, essentially, goes together. Maybe there's a button-down shirt just in case, but really, that's it. Sure, it can be disappointing at first not to choose among the racks and racks of crazy cute girl dresses, but the savings, convenience, extra time in the morning and total lack of clothing drama should not be understated.
You will love watching him play with his dad
Even if you're not married to a sports nut or a real guy's guy, your heart will melt the first time you see your man as much as toss a plush stuffed baseball to your son. Whether they're high-fiving, fist-bumping or just sharing a laugh, there's just something that screams "fatherhood" when your guys play together -- and you'll be as happy for your man as you are for your little Dad-worshipper.
(And while they may not cop to it, that worship can make all-girl Dads a little jealous.) Down the road, your love of that bond will give you a surprisingly high tolerance for SportsCenter.
The penis comparisons start early
Chalk it up to the cave man instinct, but boys play with their penis practically from birth. (And those baby erections? Whoa.) What's even more shocking: As soon as your little man can speak, the mine-is-bigger-than-yours talk starts.
Around age 2.5, you'll start to hear things like: "Dada, your penis is huge!" "My penis is tiny!" "My penis is bigger than his." "Mama doesn't have a penis! How do you pee?" Think of it this way: At least they're learning some basic mathematical concepts.
You'll learn to love legos
When you find out you're having a boy, sometimes there's a part of you that mourns all the imaginary tea parties and dress-up days you'll miss out on. But you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll master the names of all of the Thomas trains, find pleasure in a well-built Lego rocket ship and will know your dump trucks from your diggers. And you can still buy that doll-house you love at the toy store -- just know that it might turn into a parking lot or a construction site.
Roughhousing is innate
Boys are physical. There's the jumping off furniture, the rolling on each other, the "hug" that turns into a full-body running tackle. Play fighting and roughhousing is surprisingly hard-wired into many boys. It's often how they connect and express affection. Don't worry – it's normal and experts say it's healthy.
This kind of physical interaction can foster positive relationships, boost the body's feel-good chemicals and promote intelligence -- even if means stuff around the house is going to get broken.
You'll want to mold him into a stellar boyfriend
You may think you've birthed a baby boy, but you just gave the world another man. That tiny, precious baby boy will one day -- perhaps -- be someone's first date, first kiss, first love. For every bad date you suffered through, you'll feel the overwhelming need to make your son into a respectful, honest and loving man -- one who will show up on time and call when he says he will.
The goofiness starts early
There will be days when you watch your son with his friends and you just won't get it. Boy humor can be extra goofy and the potty humor starts as soon as they can talk. You will be told that your dinner tastes like poop.
You'll be called poopy head and poopy pants. If you laugh (and it's often hard not to) or scold, you just give the poop talk more value. So try to keep a straight face at least until you can vent on Facebook.
Even sweet-as-pie boys love guns
No toy guns in your house? No bad-guy shows? No cowboy dress-up gear? It doesn't matter. Somehow, boys know what a gun is, and will turn anything from an empty toilet paper roll to a finger into a weapon.
It's disconcerting, for sure, but it's not something to worry about. And if you try to ban gun play, you run the risk of making it that much more exciting. Think of it this way: Maybe he's a good guy looking to save the world from bad guys and hot lava.
You'll learn not to compare your son to girls
Watch a girl the same age as your nonstop ball of energy sit quietly and use glitter glue for 45 minutes and you may want to cry. Girls often reach milestones earlier and excel at many essential school skills like reading -- and, err, sitting still.
If you already have a girl, try hard not to compare your son to her achievements and don't fall into the trap of trying to see how your son measures up against the girls in his class. Everyone develops at their own pace -- and it all evens out in the end.
Star wars takes over earlier than you expect
A kid in your child's preschool class (the one with the two older brothers) will see it and then the obsession spreads like pinkeye. Whether you choose to cave in to your husband pleas -- or draw the line at some Star Wars figures or a lunchbox, just know that everyone else is dealing with the same thing. Don't believe us? Read this.
You'll probably make a trip to the emergency room
There are boys and there are coffee tables and these two things often add up to stitches. Boys can jump off the bed, climb out of the crib, hurdle the sofa. You will learn to anticipate the most dangerous risks (and you might want to buy the coffee table cushioned corners before your son can even pull up), but there will be a time when you're just a second too late and you land up driving to the ER. Don't blame yourself -- it's a rite of passage for all boy moms.
Sports obsession can be hard-wired
Even if you refuse to dress your baby in any of the "“Daddly's Lil' Slugger" onesies and outfits you inevitably get as baby gifts, you'll realize before too long that sports is a boy thing. For some boys, the need to run, move, bounce and throw a ball is as vital as breathing.
Your husband may even try to indoctrinate your son at an early age into the joys of "watching the game" on a Sunday afternoon. Girl moms will envy how easily little guys can meet friends at the playground when they jump into a game of tag.
Just be warned: There is a painful stage where your boy is so focused on winning that he will throw a fit if he loses. Just try to ride it out and next time be sure to remind him what it means to be a good sport before the game begins.
Pee will be everywhere. Everywhere.
On the floor. Behind the toilet. On the wall. All over the seat that they neglected to lift up. Apparently, it takes time and an attention span not to spray the entire bathroom while urinating. And perhaps less surprising: No one notices or cares but you.
Keep some wipes at the ready and remind yourself of this upside: Unless there's poop involved, your child won't ever need to sit on a dirty public toilet seat and it's incredibly easy for them to pee behind a tree in the park.
You will struggle with gender roles
Even if you consider yourself super open-minded, you might surprise yourself when gender lines get blurred. You might feel weird about putting your son in the pale pink sleeper you got as a hand-me-down. You may ask your boy if he'd rather bring his choo-choo to preschool instead of his baby doll.
You might secretly wince when your son opts for the princess costume at his pal's dress-up party. Try not to beat yourself up over your reactions -- you're learning, too.
You will revise your wedding fantasies -- And be fine with it
You know your fantasy of helping plan your little girl's wedding? It might always sit in the back of your brain as a maybe or a coulda been, but you might be surprised how easily that dream can be morphed into one that involves no over-priced dresses at all. There's a good chance you may scoop up your son, hold him close and slow dance with him in your kitchen, thinking: One day you will be taller than me and we will do this at your wedding.
Boys sometimes need to hug it out
We're not quite sure when the male aversion to spooning and snuggling occurs, but we're here to say: They are not born that way. Boys love kisses and hugs and snuggles. In fact, a hug is one of the best cure-alls for a wound-up, overtired or otherwise grouchy boy.
Give him a squeeze and watch the tears, anger or even embarrassment melt away. Later, you can go ahead and try to help him identify his emotions -- "You were really angry when you fell down. What happened?"
You will throw away a ton of clothes
Here's a catch to the streamlined clothes shopping that comes with boys -- your son will rip through the knees on khakis, cords, jeans and yes, even pajamas. (We still don't know how it happens.)
You will buy new sneakers and the treads will be flattened in weeks. Then there are the grass stains, mud stains, spaghetti stains, paint stains and unidentifiable stains. So many pieces of clothing land in the trash can before their time. Step back and realize that you would be spending exponentially more money on clothes if you had a girl. Consider investing in a stain stick -- and find out how to remove kid stains here.
Boys love their moms
It's said that boys are more work up front than girls are -- with all their jumping off couches, running from dawn to dusk and the number of things that get broken on any given day. It can be painful to listen to a friend who tells you that she can't meet you at the playground because she and her daughter are "going to go shopping and out to lunch.
"But here's the thing: Girl drama can start early and well before the teen years, girls can sulk and pout and give you the silent treatment when they're displeased. Boys? Boys love their mothers. There's a strong and consistent love that comes from boys from the get-go -- and stays there through the long haul.