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Boys Will Be … Boys!

It's no different than parenting girls—or is it?
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I grew up like most little girls in America, dreaming of motherhood and playing with dolls. I had dolls that cried, dolls whose eyes opened and shut, even dolls that wet themselves. My dolls all had one thing in common—they were female.

I'm not sure how this impacted my developing psyche, but sometime after I married and was expecting our first baby, it hit me that some babies did, in reality, appear to be male. I reconciled this information with my imagined motherhood scenarios with little consternation. After all, as best as I could tell, the only difference between male and female infants was that their onesies had footballs on them instead of pink dancing ballerina elephants.

Besides, the chance of actually giving birth to a boy is just 50/50, right? And the odds of being blessed with all boys—now that's just silly!

Doesn't the Lord have a wonderful sense of humor?

During my first pregnancy, my husband, Barry, and I elected not to know the gender of our baby until the birth. Nonetheless, we were amazed to discover that roughly 76 percent of the general population secretly possesses the talent of gender prophecy and will not hesitate to use this gift. Incidentally, this figure rises to 93 percent in grocery–store checkout lines. But what struck me most were the determining factors for their predictions:

"You're hungry all the time? BOY."

"The baby kicks you a lot? BOY."

"You have [fill in any persistent health ailment here]? BOY."

"You're experiencing a wonderful, easy, enjoyable pregnancy? GIRL."

Then I gave birth to Boy Number One. We named him Caleb, and he was perfect. We dressed him in clothing adorned with various pictures of sporting goods. And he cried, opened and shut his eyes, and wet himself almost exactly like my doll babies. Except with quite a bit more velocity and projection.

It didn't take long for bigger differences to creep in. When Caleb was 18 months old, I gave him a baby doll to play with. I thought he might like to "put baby to bed" or "give baby a bottle."

My son took the baby in his arms. He smiled. He looked sweetly at me and said, "Baby?"

"Yes, Caleb, it's a baby. Can you give the baby a kiss?"

Caleb looked at the doll, then looked at me. Then he flung the baby to the ground and stomped on her head.

So much for nature vs. nurture.

Another little delusion I had was that we would have a "no gun" rule with our children. No toy guns, no cap guns, no semi–automatic rifles. By the time I'd birthed Boy Number Two, Jonah, we were living quite sufficiently in our "no gun" household. My friend Shellie, however, had boys older than mine. When I told her about our enlightened stance on gunplay, she smiled knowingly and said, "Just let me know when you get over that."

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