Boys. What every mother needs to know.


As an only girl child becoming the mother of two small boys felt something like Alice falling down the wrong rabbit hole and not landing in Wonderland.

Everyday I learn something new about the male species. They are a source of endless wonder, humour and bemusement.


Farts are hilarious! The louder, longer and smellier they are, the higher they score.

Farts under the covers are particularly funny. Ideally a fart should have actual mass and colour. It should move across a room like a noxious mushroom cloud.

In the bath boys will have competitions to see who can produce the most bubbles form a single expulsion. This can keep them occupied for hours.

Eventually they will try to bottle a fart in an empty soda bottle or attempt to light the escaping methane to produce a rocket ship effect.

My eldest son has currently decided to devote his life to producing a stink bomb soldiers can use to clear a room based on the scientific principle of the Fart Effect.

It is best not waste energy on fighting this. It is a biological imperative, like leaving dirty clothes on the floor and eating you out of house and home.


This is very important. Boys are not good multitaskers. They can do one thing at a time as long as nothing else distracts them.

Instructions need to be clear and simple. Every instruction must contain – a personal affirmation, please and thank you, and most importantly a time frame.

For example, if you were to say, “Would you take out the trash?”, a boy might reply “Yes.” By this he means that he could, maybe, some time in the distant future yet to be specified. You can’t get angry when two days later the trash is still in the same place.

The instruction should be worded as, “My darling, you are so strong and manly, please would you take out the trash now? Thank you.”

Do not confuse the issue by trying to add on anything else. It confuses them. If you asked them to take out the trash and bring in the groceries, you are likely to find your groceries in the trash.


Boys need constant positive affirmation; even for things they do everyday.

They need to be told how clever, how handsome, how brilliant, how manly they are. All the time. This goes on their entire lives.

If a boy does the washing up, which you do every day without the slightest gratitude, you need to go into paroxysms of delight.

Squash a spider? Oh my great and courageous warrior.

Put the toilet seat down? Oh you considerate and fabulous gentleman.

And so on. Unpack the metaphors and hyperboles of genius. Make a list, you will need it.


My amazing son now has testosterone. This means he has turned into a monstrous hormonal Jekyll and Hyde. I will suffer through it, because one day I will wake up and he’ll be a human being again.

In the meantime, he will smell. Bad.

Apparently this is totally normal, some sort of evolutionary pheromone. It is not attractive. It has a distinct aroma of dirty gym sock. I think of it as a sort of teenage prophylactic.


Boys may be very independent, not hug you in public and answer back with smart aleck commentary. Thing is, they may be big and smelly and farty, but every now again, they will fall asleep on the couch with the head on your shoulder, or grab you in bear hug.

It is important to stop everything you are doing in these moments and just savour them.

When their hearts get broken, you’re the one they’ll come to, to make it all better.

When you need something heavy lifted or a bug removed, they’re the ones who’ll do it.

To them, you will always be the most beautiful, clever, amazing woman in the world and no one will ever love you as unconditionally as your sons.

They’ve seen you in the nick. They’ve seen you first thing in the morning. They’ve seen you cry, scream and lose your cool.

They’ve seen it all and they love you anyway.

4 thoughts on “Boys. What every mother needs to know.

  1. Truth on top of truth here. From the smelly to the brilliant, raising boys is an amazing experience. I especially appreciate your observation that they are single-minded hunters. “But mom you didn’t TELL me I had to empty the dishwasher TODAY” (disregarding the knowledge that this is a daily task and has been for going on two years).

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