Thursday, January 10, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

Today's post is by Nanette (@scrappymummy), who says:

Hi I’m Nanette a stay at home, home-educating mummy to three boys aged 2 to 8 yrs old, living in Bonnie Scotland. I also have to confess I’m one of the ‘newbies’ you have been warned about, lol. New in lots of ways - new to blogging (, new to guest posts (so please be kind) and also new (8 yrs anyway) to child care and education (I was a nurse who did health education with adults!)

So here is my penny worth.....

Boys Will Be Boys

Have you ever heard the term ‘gender neutral’? The first time I heard it being banded about was in a news report about a child care facility in Sweeden ( and also an article about a child being raised ‘gender nuteral’ ( The question I asked when reading these articles was “What is wrong with embracng or even celebrating the differences, diversities, abilities and true individuality that either gender has, in fact that any child has?”

As you have guessed already I’m female, not a die-hard girly-girl or a "yummy mummy," but even I noticed the differences between my friends' girls & my boys, early on. Science has also noted some of the biological differences in the genders and it’s not just reproductive parts! Generally boys continue growing longer than girls and therefore end up taller than girls; generally girls begin puberty 2 years before boys; hormone differences; bone density; and many many more. There are also studies into gender differences in the sequence of brain development ( This has led me to question: can we and should we treat our girls and boys the exact same and/or expect the same from them? Controversial, I know, but it does influence how we care for and educate children in our care, whatever the setting, also the results we get!

It’s a given that there are certain behaviours society expects from its citizens but sometimes I feel we squash the boyishness out of our boys and the girlishness out of our girls by trying to be too Politically Correct. In my experience as a mum of three boys I am learning to embrace the boyishness in them head-on and wanted to share something of that with you.

Being female, there are some things I find gross, rude and generally disgusting, but my boys and even daddy (sometimes especially daddy) think are hilarious and I fight back my desire to have them conform to my gentle disposition!


At 18 months old I found my middle son had climbed up onto our high TV unit and was hugging the TV; one used the back of the sofa like a balance beam; another stood balanced on the tip of the seat of his trike until someone saw him and went "ta da!"My boys have always been physically active and fidgety, whether it be pulling everything out & climbing in boxes, building dens and doing lessons in there, re-enacting battles, digging in muck & getting dirty, or climbing up the outside of a tube slide!  To account for this activity, we have frequent breaks in our school day. I get them to run round the house 10 times before settling to concentrate on something important, they do karate lessons, gymnastics classes, and if a lesson can include physical activity, it does. I also don’t expect them to sit still for read aloud story time: I try to gather toys pertaining to the story for them to play with. I discovered my eldest was pick, pick, picking at his nails recently & when asked why he said he did it when concentrating so we have now put together some fidget toys.

Bugs & Beasties

One day my son came into the house with this horrible green, smelly slime stuck tight to his fingers and hands, when asked what he had been doing he said “ I was helping a slug get out of a shell!” He had squished a poor snail and ripped it from it’s shell (skeleton)!

If you could see my face in some of these pictures, you would know how I truly feel about bugs and beasties!

My boys, however, adore them, as you can see!

I have forced myself to handle, dig for, examine, study and photograph things I’d much rather avoid, ignore or stamp on! While learning with them we have watched National Geographic
programs, Deadly 60(by the BBC), gone on bug hunts, woodland safari, and outings to zoos; all for the boys' love of bugs and beasties! Believe it or not I have even had some stay overnight in the house, but in their bug barn!

Toilet Humor

There is nothing my boys like better than to burp... As
for me it makes me want to vomit, but they would
probably laugh at that too! I remember being on a car
journey as a family and all the boys did in the back
seat was say poop, fart, bum, pee and burp over and over! They were only 4 ½ and 2 ½ years old at the time, I scolded and said “Right no more poop, pee, fart, bum..... enough!” at that my 2 ½ year old looked at me with a smug grin on his face and said “Fartypants.” He knew this was not in my combination of words not to be said and that he got one over on me. My husband burst into laughter and I knew I had lost the battle! My boys can burp their names, A,B,C’s and count and love the Captain Underpants books as well as the book "Who’s in the loo?"! I’m still at a bit of a loss as to know what to do with this one but at the moment the compromise is - not at the dinner table or in front of company!


I’m not trying to make sweeping generalizations here. I know girls do some of these things too, just like we have a balance - it’s not all guts and gore, lol! Like all families we have times of sweet loving kindness, baking, sewing, household chores, smelling the flowers, appreciating beauty and quietness 

(maybe not just as much!)

The boys have owned play pink buggies, dolls, dressed up as princesses, and one's favourite colour is pink! I’m not promoting that each gender play only with the ‘gender specific’ toys so they can become 1950 stereotypes. My concern is that we have ‘thrown the baby out with the bathwater’ as the saying goes, thinking it necessary for equality later in life! I think if we don’t encourage or cultivate that curious, adventurous and high spirited nature found more in boys and deemed it less acceptable than a soft, quiet or emotional nature (sometimes for our own comfort and ease to teach) then what message will that send? It’s not ok to be you? You must conform to be the same, look the same and achieve the same? What will be the result? Clones? I don’t think I’ll be producing an clones here any time soon!

Even if it goes against your nature or makes more work try and embrace, encourage and value the curious, adventurous and high-spirited child (whether boy or girl)!


  1. Great post. The true skill of a parent is to encourage their child to become the best they can be.

  2. Nanette, Loved the visuals with your post. I have often used the term gender neutral with parents - I offer the same opportunities to all children. What they are able to do will depend on developmental abilities and interests. Jobs around our space are shared equally with everyone taking their turn. They will see boys playing with dolls and girls playing racing cars. Boys and dolls means learning to nurture, family modeling. Girls and cars is social play and fun. I always smile when the boys are spooked by the bugs and the girls are my best tree climbers. After 30+ years I know gender plays it's role, but it is really about the personality of the individual.
    You've got it right that it's about offering opportunities and encouragement.

  3. So true! The high-spirited child needs our encouragement even more so than one who is not...thanks for sharing!