Sugar and Spice, and Everything Nice?
By Holly Patrone
I’ve written two humorous novels, ‘Death Is a Relative Thing’ and ‘Relative Identity’. They aren’t memoirs but it’s hard not to let bits and pieces of real life roll into the story. See, I have five kids and there isn’t anything that I can write that’s funnier than my family. For example, when the smoke alarm goes off and all the boys tear down the stairs yelling “Dinner’s done!”
My cooking prowess is legendary.
Anyway, I’m frequently asked if I think raising a girl is harder than raising a boy. Well, in my high school yearbook, in big bold black letters, my mother wrote, “All I wish is that you have one just like you!”
I guess that’s the first hint.
My daughter was born well after my sons. In fact, there’s a full twenty years between Marisa and her oldest brother. It doesn’t take a lot to do the math. I had her when I was in my forties. That in itself was a bit of a shock, that she turned out female was quite another. My poor husband blanched when we saw the sonogram and mumbled something about menopause and puberty colliding.
He walks around with four pounds of dark chocolate stuffed in his pockets at all times. He calls it “Insurance.”
Anyway, is raising a girl harder than raising a boy? Well, here is my answer. Raising one girl is harder than raising four boys! Don’t get me wrong, boys are tough in their own way. They eat non-stop, they knock over lamps and wrestle in the living room, but boys are straight up.
I remember calling out to the yard, “Gentlemen! What are you doing out there?”
“Hey Ma! We caught a snake, painted the dog and set fire to the shed but don’t worry. We have water.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I might not just walk away from that statement, but at least I would know what I was dealing with.
On the flip side, girls are subversive.
“Marisa, what are you doing upstairs?”
Nothing? I’ve learned that twenty minutes of silence is never a good thing.
I climb the stairs only to find that she has used five different shades of nail polish to write the name of the newest boy band across the top of her desk. Or that she’s cut all the hair off her Barbie dolls, has decided that going commando is preferable to finding a pair of underwear in the laundry or has tried on each of thirty outfits, and instead of returning the clothes to the drawers, has hidden them all behind her bookshelf.
Girls whine, try to sneak out wearing makeup, giggle with other girls and have ‘secrets’. Marisa is certain I have never been a teen and therefore “don’t understand.” And girls are brutal. My boys wouldn’t skip a beat if I wore a potato sack. My daughter on the other hand, looks at me and says, “Don’t you think those earrings are a bit young for you?” Or she’ll look through a magazine and call me over. “Hey mom, wouldn’t you just love this dress if you were skinny?”
Also, I can’t say that the boys ever borrowed my stuff. A typical conversation between me and Marisa goes as follows:
Me: “Marisa, do you know where my hair gel is?”
Marisa: “No, but you can borrow mine.”
Me: “Hey! That’s my hair gel!”
Marisa: “Oops sorry. I thought it was mine.”
Me: “Marisa, do you have my hairspray, eyeliner, earrings, shirt that I’ve been waiting to shrink back into, leftover lunch from yesterday, very last piece of gum, gold lame pumps or anything else that’s mine?”
Marisa: ‘Oops sorry, I thought it was mine.”
I confronted my mother. “You never warned me!”
She just patted my hand….and laughed.