Snips and snails and puppy dog tails. That’s what little boys are made of.

What sick freak thought that up? And really? Little girls are made up of sugar and spice and EVERYTHING nice? Really?

As a mother of both boys and girls, my personal experience tells me that it’s not always true — at least when it comes to how they interact with Mommy. Most girls have their spice-to-sugar ratio wildly out of whack when they hit the tween and teen years. And it’s the little boys who know how to turn the sugar on.

My nine-year-old son Nicholas is the master of diplomacy when it comes to my age, my weight, and even my jokes. Oh, I know he’s just kissing up, but I don’t really care. When I compare him to my 13-year-old daughter Bridget, who has a knack for, well, being a girl and telling it like it is, I especially like a little pandering. While this honesty will serve her well when she has to deal with a boyfriend herself, frankly I could live without some of her input. Some of it is definitely NOT NICE.

Bridget: Mom! Aren’t you breaking your diet?
Nicholas: Oh come on, Bridget! Mom’s so skinny! She is!
Bridget: Not if she keeps eating McChickens for lunch.

Or this:

Bridget: You don’t have wrinkles everywhere, Mom.
(Short pause while I silently ponder “who asked?” and brace myself for the other shoe…)
Bridget: Just on your face.
And there it is. To the rescue?
Nicholas: But she still looks younger than Dad, right Mom?

The fact that I’m a year older than him makes that remark particularly sweet. The only way it could have been better is if Dad could have been standing right there to hear it. I’ll just publish it here instead.

Sadly, all little boys get bigger, and my eighteen-year-old son conveniently demonstrates that it’s the pre-teen behaviour you should be cherishing. When these lovely little fellows dive into the hormonal teenage abyss, they decide overnight that they certainly do not want to marry you like they did when they were five, and that you are also quite possibly the most annoying and clued-out person on the entire planet.

How do I know this? As an experienced parent, I draw on my keen observational powers. I’ve witnessed the eye-rolling, the palpable condescension, and the subtle avoidance techniques he deploys when I enter a room he happens to be in (leaping over couches, darting around corners, cowering behind kitchen counters).

All of this is still pretty calm compared to my oldest daughter who, upon seeing me put on make-up before we leave the house, can be heard muttering, “It’s not like anyone is going to look at you anyway, Mom.” It’s then that I know the nursery rhyme definitely lists the ingredients of sugar and spice in the wrong order.

Perhaps I’m being too literal. Besides, what is a ‘snip,’ anyway? And why are poor innocent snails given such a bad rap? I quite like them myself. Had some in garlic butter last night, as a matter of fact. And yes, that was breaking my diet TOO, Bridget.

This article first appeared in Huffington Post and can be found at this link:

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