I always knew I wanted three kids. I was one of three and in my mind we were always a good family unit. Yes I fought with my two younger brothers now and then but generally we were good kids who have grown up to be friends. Mum and Dad did a great job in balancing all our needs and making us feel safe and loved.
When I first became pregnant I really wanted a boy. I wanted a little man who would be like just his dad, would be strong, know his mind, be bright, fun, inquisitive and love Liverpool. I am not a particularly patient person and waiting 9 months to find out if it was going to be pink or blue was just not going to happen. I had to find out what the sex was and was delighted to find out our first was a boy. So far his temperament is spookily just like his fathers. Nature or nurture I’m not sure, but he certainly lives up to expectations.
Second time round I really wanted a girl. I wanted a little me. Independent, strong willed carrot top. One of each would be a great balance in the house, and would give me someone to go clothes shopping with when we are older. Once again we found out the sex early on and it turned out to be another blue one. I went home from the scan with a tear in my eye and a heavy heart. I got over it though pretty soon after and quickly saw the benefits of having two boys 18mths part.
Third time pregnant and I knew this would be my last. I hoped with all my heart that this time it would be pink. The pregnancy itself had taken us a little by surprise - yes I wanted three kids but had hoped for a little more time between No2 and No3. It was a big adjustment to know that for the first 6 months we would have three kids under 4yrs old!
When it came to the 12 wk scan I can recall clearly that I tried to fast track the scan by ‘slightly’ adjusting the age of the pregnancy to the lady on the phone when I booked the scan, just so I could get my scan in a week early so I could find out the sex. When the sonographer told me it was a boy my heart sank and I burst into tears - which BTW is also what I did when I found out about the pregnancy. How could this be? I was having a third baby that I felt I was mentally and physically not ready for, and it’s yet another noisy smelly boy. There went my hopes and dreams of having a little ‘mini-me’ to shop with, play dress up dolls with, bake and cook with, get manicures with etc. A daughter whose wedding I could help plan and can help and support as a grandmother. I had seen over and over again with my own adult friends that it’s the daughter’s mother and family that the family generally go and live with and have a closer relationship with, rather than the sons mother. If we lived in an eastern culture it would be the other way around, but in our western society it seems to be this way more and more. So here I was catastrophizing in my mind about what my life looked like in some 30 years from now. Our three boys would leave us and live in another city or country with their wives families….
Well, approximately 5 years on from that point of walking out of the ultrasound and actually it hasn’t been all that bad so far – in fact it’s been really cool. When I mention to someone new I meet, that I have three boys they are like ‘Wow - you must have a very busy house’. And it is. It is a high energy, loud, smelly, testosterone filled household.
There was the time a month or so ago the 4yr old and 6 yr old thought it would be fun at bedtime to rather than direct their willy into the toilet they would get a water gun and fill that up instead – with pee. Who does that! Needless to say there were consequences and thinking time - we are all about making ‘good choices not bad choices’ at the moment. Why they have an aversion to directing their pee into the toilet bowl rather than EVERYWHERE else, I will never know.
We recently went away with some friends who have two boys of their own. As soon as we arrived at the holiday home it was carnage – our five boys aged between 3 – 7yrs turned into animals with play fighting, yelling, jumping off couches (we stopped that pretty quick), and running around the outside of the house. It was like a snapshot of a young version of Goldings book ‘Lord of the flies’ – and they were having the best time ever.
According to neuroscience educator Nathan Mikaere Wallis, boy’s brains mature slower than girls - it’s a biological fact. As a side note Wallis has a great podcast about how kids 3 – 7yrs best learn which is an interesting listen. Anyway he says that neuroscience research shows us that a fully mature male brain is mature between the ages of 22yrs – 32yrs, whilst a females brain is fully developed between 18 – 24yrs. That’s a big difference in ages and is something you can observe very early in life. I noticed at the school junior disco recently the 5-7yr old girls are dressed in their good dresses, hair done, lip gloss on, and the boys are running around the hall like monkey’s excited by glow sticks. Throw in soft drinks, chips and lollies and many of them were like minions on steroids.
Like all kids, boys need boundaries, they need to know where the line is and when they have crossed it. I’d like to say I’m great at enforcing that line all the time – I do have a tendency to be a bit ‘wishy washy’ sometimes in enforcing the boundaries (which drives hubby mental), particularly when I’m tired or busy, or sick of being the fun police. The Parenting Place call this being a ‘Jellyfish’ parent, rather than a ‘Parent Coach’. BUT that whole ‘knowing the buck stops here’ thing is imperative with these little guys. I’m afraid my yelling voice has developed into something pretty awful and I hate pulling it out, but I often have little control on when it comes out – it just erupts from the pit of my stomach when I don’t feel I’m being heard – or had to repeat myself some 10 times. My most common yelling message is ‘STOP THE NOISE!!!’ (sometimes there might be a ‘naughty’ word thrown in there if I’m feeling particularly scratchy).
Even though they are only 18mths apart and come from the same genes they are all different. Different personalities, temperaments and looks, although No1 & No 3 do look very similar with red hair and blue eyes compared to No 2 who is blonde with green eyes. No2 also has some different interests to the others in areas such as music, dancing and performing, whilst the other 2 don’t so much. Yet they are still all similar in general in what they want to do and how they want to spend their time.
They ALL need to burn energy and get out and run around and any of the following are their favourite things to do on any given afternoon – climb trees, kick a ball, build huts, play superheroes, play star wars, go for adventures in the back yard/ bush, run around and get naked on the trampoline with their buddies and then fire water at each other with water guns (not filled with pee). Have running races, biking races, make fart noises with their underarms and legs, burp, chase each other with sticks, play fight on the floor like baby lion cubs, fart for real, running races up and down the hallway, making indoor huts out of couch cushions, catching lizards, piling up worms in the back garden. Make motorbikes out of couch cushions, play fight with couch cushions (as you may gather the couch cushions get a lot of use), climbing fences, more burps and farts, balancing along fences, climbing sand cliffs, walking/ splashing through puddles, rock hopping up a stream etc. And they are obsessed with willys, not other children’s I might add, just their own.
BUT what they also LOVE and need are cuddles and hugs, and a must is the bed time cuddles, fun time with mum and dad and feeling like they are winning over mum and dad in some way. They also love routine and family time – Taco Tuesdays, Fish and Chip Friday and movie night on Sunday with a picnic dinner in front of the TV. These are special weekly events in their lives they all get upset about if we miss it. Steve Biddulph sums it up nicely in his book ‘Raising Boys’, the key things that young boys (1 – 6yrs) need to learn are Trust, Warmth, Fun and Kindness.
Being the parent to three little boys is busy, exhausting and noisy (I may have mentioned that) – but I love it. I love our boys and the little humans they are growing into. I’m not the perfect parent by any means and I’m learning and developing all the time. I learn loads from other parents, including my own, on how to manage particular issues like temper tantrums, testosterone surges and midnight growing pains. In fact I rely on other parents a lot – we are a community of like-minded, similarly aged adults who still cling to the ’BC’ period (before children) when life was free and easy and we had no responsibility for a little person’s life. We know that period of life has gone and we are all now sharing similarly strange and new unknown things that we all learn together as we fumble our way through parenthood.
So I may not have got a pink one, but I did get three awesome little people who I don’t really see as blue anymore but a mixture of all the colours of the rainbow – sometimes I spot a bit of yellow, green, purple and even some pink. Again nature or nurture, it’s probably a bit of both really. Whatever the colour I will love them no matter what. All I hope for is that they feel as safe and loved as I did when I was a kid so they grow up to be awesome adults and good mates.