Most people who read my Superromances figure out pretty quickly that I love writing boys. Unless the children I write are babies, I always make them male. The reason for this is simple-- I have nothing against girls. I love them, but the fact of the matter is, I know nothing about raising girls. Boys, however, I'm finally beginning to think I know what I'm doing when it comes to them. I have three, after all, and while raising daughters might be a joy, raising boys is a riot (often terrifying, but always a riot).
A day doesn’t go by when one of them doesn’t make me laugh at something or other. My oldest is fourteen, and while we are dealing with the inevitable mouth that comes with an eighth grader trying to flex his independent muscles, I am also so grateful to the universe for giving this child to me. He was the baby I had when I was little more than a baby myself—twenty-one, newly married, in graduate school, he turned my life upside down and I’m so very glad he did. Not to imply that he’s been easy to take care of, because he hasn’t been—not by a longshot.
By the time he was one, he was piling his large toys next to the front door of our second floor apartment, then scaling the pile to wrestle the chain off the door. You see, the pool was right outside and for months I lived in fear of him executing a perfect swan dive off the walkway into the pool and certain death. Of course, this is also the child who only had one speed—hell-bent for leather, the child who dropped my cell phone in the toilet because he wanted to know what it would do and who, by three, had managed to take apart every piece of electronic or mechanical equipment (from the coffeepot to the computer) that we had in the house, just to see how they worked.
He taught me to grow up, taught me what it is to really laugh at myself and what it is to selflessly, completely love another human being. He also taught me patience J My oldest is sweet and funny and adorable and always has a quip (usually sarcastic—wonder where he got that from) to make me laugh.
My middle son, well, he is my challenge. I spent years running after my oldest son so that by the time the middle one came along six and a half years later, my husband and I were exhausted. Or so we thought. From the minute my middle son came into the world, we learned what exhaustion really was. Impatient to this day, this one decided that he wasn’t going to wait around for anything as mundane as his due date—instead, he joined the world seven and a half weeks early and threw my entire life into a tizzy. And while we were blessed with a very healthy baby considering the circumstances, we had to learn a lot quickly with him. From the very beginning, middle kidlet wanted things his own way. He wouldn’t eat unless I held him a certain, specific way, would cry if his blanket wasn’t arranged exactly how he liked it, would scream if we didn’t soothe him in the exact way he wanted. I should have known, at the time, that we were in for a handful (because, oh boy, is he a handful even to this day). At two weeks, he stopped breathing and my husband had to do CPR. Until the day we die, I will never forget what it felt like to stand by helplessly, 911 on the phone, while my husband breathed for my child.
At three, middle kidlet entered his oral phase right when other people’s kids were growing out of it. This is the time he started putting everything into his mouth, and I do mean everything. No matter how careful I was (and it got to the point that I was paranoid) he would find something to try to poison himself with. Tide at the bottom of the laundry cup, Advil (safety lid? Safety locked cabinets? What are these silly impediments you speak of—this one has never met a lock he couldn’t pick or a safety device he couldn’t release—which speaks well for his future career as a criminal, my husband always says), cough syrup, Hot wheels cars, a penny, his brother’s fish. It didn’t matter. If it was the right size (and sometimes even if it wasn’t) it was going in his mouth
As for what this one has taught me … Well, besides the fact that there are a number of household substances and medicines that are nowhere near as poisonous as we believe they are (thank you Poison Control Center), my middle son has really taught me patience (I only thought number one had), the importance of perseverance and the beauty in small things (this is the one who always has a rock or a shell or a flower or a leaf or a lizard or a sunset to show me. Even at seven, he is my artist and my write, not to mention King of the metaphor, and a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t make me look at the world in a little different way.
And then we come to raising kidlet number three. Sigh. I don’t even know where to begin, but I guess the fact that we call him Little Napolean might give you a clue as to what it’s like to mother this child. Another impatient one, kidlet number three came into the world ten weeks early and from the moment he was born he was a fighter (thank God, or we might have lost him). His fighting spirit stood him in good stead during those weeks in the NICU and the first year of his life when problem after problem kept us running between five different specialists. Now, however, all that spirit does is terrify anyone in his path. From beating his brothers over the head with their own Nerf swords to ordering them around at the top of his lungs to powering his way over any obstacle someone might put in his path, this kid knows how to handle opposition. The fact that he’s four and absolutely angelic looking and has a heart of gold underneath all that fight, only works in his favor—especially when it comes to wrapping his oldest brother around his little finger.
What he’s taught me …creative ways to punish a four year old as the regular ones only make him laugh? The importance of consistency? How to duck? While all of those things are true, he’s also taught me to appreciate every day I have on this earth, to embrace chaos and the importance of playing. He’s given me a plethora of gray hair in the last four years, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world …
So, if you have children, what have you learned from them? And if you don’t, just fill me in on something you’ve learned from someone important in your life. Leave a comment for a chance to win my April release, Deserving of Luke, two weeks before it hits shelves J Happy Monday!