We’ve all heard the phrase, “Boys will be boys,” but moms of boys have this knowing look and head nod that goes along with it. That’s because we know what that really means. Boys are a unique breed and trying to raise one or more presents unique challenges to moms because we often can’t understand the boy brain. We’re often stumped and on more than one occasion I’ve asked my husband, “What on Earth makes him act that way?” My son Jayden turns 5 on Sunday and so I dedicate this post to the boy who changed my life. He forced me to see parenting through the boy lens. Since I had a daughter first, I can say that there were many things that caught me off guard about raising a boy and it started in utero.

I met my son on November 9, 2009 and he's kept me on my toes ever since.

Jayden was born on November 9, 2009 and he’s kept me on my toes ever since.

When I first learned I was having a boy, I was terrified. Since I had a girl first I didn’t know just how different it would be to raise a son. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I NEVER had a gender preference. Chalk it up to losing my first pregnancy, but I had only one thought – please let me carry to term and let him or her be healthy. I was unprepared for my husband’s reaction to the news. When we found out Hannah was a girl he shed a single tear and said he was “going to jail one day.” When we found out we were having a boy, he didn’t react at all. This from the man who has been dreaming of having a boy since he was in high school  (I have the 9th grade essay to prove it). I didn’t understand and was mad by his lack of enthusiasm, but this is the very example of the way boy brains work that I can never understand.

Will was so elated he was afraid to even put it into words. Maybe he thought he’d jinx it and my son’s penis would magically transform into a vagina in the womb. Boys just process emotions so differently from girls and this will be the very thing women will read hundreds of articles on later in life because we want to understand how their minds work. I can say with 90 percent certainty that the only way we ever come close to understanding men is to raise one and even then there are plenty of head scratching moments to endure. So here are the top eight ways boys are so very different from girls and why that is totally awesome.

Jay crawled at 4 months and walked at 8. Nothing can stop Jay from moving when he gets going.

Jay crawled at 4 months and walked at 8 months. Nothing can stop Jay from moving when he gets going.

1. Boys Are Injury Magnets – From the time my son started walking which was early at 8 months he was constantly bonking into counter corners or any hard surface really. He taught himself to scoot down the stairs backwards, which terrified onlookers. I can safely say that my son has no fear. Women sometimes see this as a reckless trait in grown men and sometimes it is, but boys see the world through the lens of challenges that they are desperate to overcome. There is no playpen that can hold a boy who is ready to explore the world. My son had stitches before he was two after trying to climb the bathtub wall like Spider Man. He split his chin and never made a peep as the doctor stitched him up. Nobody told him he couldn’t cry, but this brings me to..

2. Boys Guard Their Emotions – My daughter is my mini-me. She will cry when she’s upset, but I have watched my son since toddlerhood blink rapidly and pretend the tears welling up in his eyes are caused by any other reason than he got his feelings hurt. There seems to be something in their brain chemistry that tells boys to keep their feelings under wraps. This may be the reason that moms are the keepers of their sons’ hearts. We can tell by a look on their little faces that they need to expel some trapped emotion. When my father died my brother was 19 and my mother looked into his anguished face and said “it’s ok Matt, just cry.” A mom gives her son the permission to be vulnerable that he desperately needs sometimes.

3. Boys Don’t Get Hung Up On Mistakes – The other night I told my daughter she got something wrong on her homework and she cried hysterically. My son looks at her and says, “It’s ok. Sometimes I make a mistake, but I just try again.” I think this is in large part why men tend to excel in certain areas because they aren’t afraid to be wrong, though they may never admit to actually being wrong (can I get a woot woot ladies?).

Boys like Jay love castles and fortes to protect, mostly from their older siblings.

Boys like Jay love castles and fortes to protect, mostly from their siblings.

4. Boys Feel The Need To Fight ALL The Time – Boys can and will turn any object into a weapon. I’ve watched a group of toddler girls play with a toy ketchup bottle and use it to cook with and I’ve seen boys take the same bottle and pretend to spray hot sauce in each others eyes. I chalk it up to evolution. Boys seem to come equipped with a protector gene. My son constantly reassures me he will protect me from monsters and bears. See number 2 for the other reason they fight all the time. My son has less ability to verbalize his emotions and will often exact his own brand of violent justice on his big sister.

He can be rough at times, but his cuddles are like no other.

He can be rough at times, but he cuddles like no other.

5. Boys LOVE Hard – If you’re the mom of a boy, you may have found yourself saying something like, “hugs shouldn’t hurt.” My son’s hugs are often bone crushing. His capacity for love is just immense. I often have to watch so he doesn’t accidentally hurt his baby sister in his effort to love on her. I am mentally preparing myself for his first breakup. While my daughters will probably cry over their first heartbreaks and move on, I know I need to be vigilant that it doesn’t permanently alter the way my son views love and relationships.

6. Boys Are Preoccupied With The Body – All bodily functions are a source for endless amusement from farts to poop. Just saying the words butt or booty spark laughter. My son was amazed when he learned boobs actually served the purpose of feeding a baby. Maybe it has something to do with their genitals being on the outside. They are constantly readjusting it. Jay often complains, “my pee pee came out of my underwear.” It’s a problem I just can’t relate to. So I simply resign myself to think that maybe I would be preoccupied with my body and it’s functions if I had to worry about my ovaries swinging every which way.

Boys will often put gross things in their mouths. For Jay that means tasting slugs and worms.

Boys will often put gross things in their mouths. For Jay that means tasting slugs and worms.

7. Boys Turn Gross Into An Art Form – If you have a boy, you’ve probably heard some strange things come out of your mouth. Things like, “You CAN’T eat slugs!” or “Poop is NOT for finger-painting.” I have no idea why, but boys think that all things gross are fun. If it grosses someone else out in the process that’s just a bonus. Cleaning up or looking after a boy certainly never gets boring and sharpens your parenting skills, but at least you’ll have a good laugh about it, later like much later after you’ve cleaned the poop off the wall.

Daddy and Jay are two peas in a pod. Having my son made me appreciate my husbands finer qualities all the more because my son shares them.

Daddy and Jay are two peas in a pod. Having my son made me appreciate my husband’s finer qualities all the more because my son shares them.

8. Boys Make You Appreciate Your Husband – I look at my son and I can easily see the boy my husband must have been. They are peas in a pod; easy going, class clowns, brave, funny, and loving. Jayden’s excitement is contagious and when my son and husband get together it’s sure to be a good time. You also appreciate it when you can defer to your husband when it comes time for certain male rites of passage, like learning to pee standing up.

So while I’m a mom of two amazing little girls, having a son has forced me to rethink parenting. Strategies that work for my daughter don’t work for my son. It was harder to teach him as he never wants to sit still and he is a light switch just like my husband, either off or on, but never in between. He’s ready in his own time and nothing can make him budge.

So happy 5th birthday to my amazing son Jayden. Even though I may never fully understand why you do some of the things you do, I will love you forever and a day. And if you happen to see my son doing something crazy, you’ll just have to understand when I smile in a slightly embarrassed but loving way and say, “it’s a boy thing.”