In Praise of Boys

By Lindsey Townsend

First off, you should know the truth: I wanted a girl.

Of course, as every mother does, I hoped more than anything for a healthy baby. But during my pregnancy, visions of pink lacy canopy beds, Wedding Day Barbie, feather boas and dress-up shoes danced in my head. I pictured us wearing elegant matching black velvet dresses at Christmas. I thought about my obsession with horses as a little girl, and contemplated buying a pony sometime in the future. I prowled the aisles of department stores looking at leotards, headbands, and those precious black patent leather shoes.

My two nieces, as well as my sister, made no secret of their desire for a girl that would complete our pajama party. Even when the sonogram said boy, my sister didn’t give up hope. “It’s still so early,” she’d insist. “They can’t possibly know for sure!” Four months later, defying her fervent wish, I brought home a bouncing nine-pound baby boy. I had no idea what to do with him.

Now, almost three years later, my tranquil home has been permanently invaded by raging testosterone. A matchbox car has found a cozy home in my office’s tabletop fountain. Monster trucks and bulldozers fight for highway space in my hallway. Thomas the Tank Engine, along with a half-dozen of his best buddies, make tracks up and down my coffee table.

As the cliché goes, my son is all boy. His favorite word is “crash.” He can spot a choo-choo a mile away. Wheels of any kind fascinate him. Activities like coloring and painting that keep little girls busy for hours hold no interest for him….he’s gotta keep moving on. He never walks anywhere; he runs. If it’s higher than two feet tall, he must climb it. If it has a hole, he must crawl in it. His favorite activity is throwing rocks in any kind of water, followed closely by plugging up the water fountain with sand. Often when I put him down for a nap, I peek in to check on him and find him jumping off the dresser. Mysterious sounds of moving furniture regularly awake me in the morning

Thanks to him, I now view the world in a radically different way. Last week I was stuck in traffic as a long freight train chugged past. At one time I would have cursed my bad luck. But now, all I could think of was my disappointment that my son wasn’t in the car with me. Seeing a choo-choo for him is akin to what you or I would feel upon encountering an angel.

I have discovered another little secret, too: little boys always love their mamas. Once, when I had a sore throat, he took me by the hand and led me to the couch, telling me “Mama, come lay down.” He even went and got his Boo-Boo Bunny and applied it tenderly to my throat.

Never did I dream that my all-boy son would have a sweetness about him that allowed him to be concerned with other people’s feelings. Often during the day he will stop playing to look up at me and inquire “Momma, you happy?” Or he will suddenly come running for a spontaneous hug and then whisper into my ear “Momma, I like you.”

Whenever we take a walk, he is on the lookout for flowers for me. Today he picked a tiny bunch of wild asters and two sunflowers and brought them to me, saying, “Here, Mama. Flowers for you. Make Mommy happy.”

I look at my son and think yes, you’re right. Make Mommy happy. Happier than any Easy-Bake oven or glitter nail polish ever could.