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.
Holly Patrone started writing (and winning awards) in elementary school. You can purchase her laugh-out-loud novels on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Thanks! I like to laugh…and to make people laugh too.
I had only boys, but I often wondered how life might have been different if I had a girl. Thanks for the peek into the world of having a daughter! From the sound of it, I’m not sure my skin is tough enough to have handled the challenge 🙂
Thank you for responding! Whatever the gender, having children is a challenge, but yes, it would have been different. You wouldn’t have had anything to call your own! Also apparently, we lose brain cells when we have girls. My boys thought I was a genius. My daughter thinks I just crawled out from under a rock yesterday. Sigh… 🙂
Yes – but one day, when she is older she will become a good friend. I remember that relationship with my mother, now gone, and it is what my sisters share with their daughters. I envy the relationship they have with their adult daughters – one that is quite different than with their with sons. In the meantime, good luck!!! Children – no matter what the age – are definitely a roller coaster ride! 🙂
~there’s nothing subversive about Holly! 🙂 ~loved reading this
Cathy- Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I think my mother would beg to differ!
I love this! (one son, one daughter)
Thank you! I love to hear that someone likes what I do!
Story of my long life with a few exceptions. After too many boys, a girl! I grew up in an era where girls were more obedient. Sneaky, yes, but not the daughter described in the funny post. Now she’s grown-up, since we let her, has a daughter– my precious grandest, and is my best friend. Kids. Love this post that hits so close to home and heart. Thanks to both of you. Charmaine
Charmaine- Thanks for posting- and you are exactly correct. After years of turmoil, my mother and I are now best friends. The teenage road is a tough one, but we are all good (so far). I know that when she turns 21 she will realize that I’m not really ‘out of the loop’ and all will be well. Glad you let yours grow up! 🙂
Such candour and lightness! I really enjoyed reading this piece. It brightened up my morning.
I have to say that one of my greatest fears is having a girl who would be just like me. Mother doesn’t have to warn me. I know I was not an easy child. There were many ways in which I was fun to have around – at least all my uncles, aunts and grandparents say so – but being a daughter: that was quite a different matter. Being the first child, first grandchild, first niece, first everything, might’ve been part of the problem. I was given my way in everything by everyone other than my parents, so disciplining me or getting me to even accept my mum’s authority as legitimate was a near impossible feat. I was an early talker too, and from a very young age a questioner and negotiator for my wilful ways, so my poor mother didn’t even get the early years to enjoy a quiet and unproblematic child. Cheeky and stubborn, both secretive and a bit of a blabber mouth, add to this a decisive strive for independence and a will to match any adult’s – no wonder!
In many ways having a child that resembles me in these respects would be less of a struggle for me than it was for my mum: at least I’d know what I’m dealing with. But hey! Wouldn’t it be lovely if I got a little curly-locked angel who wants nothing more than to please her mother and would never dream of doing anything that was not first thoroughly discussed and agreed with her as a good course of action?
Oh well… A girl can dream.
I seem to have selective amnesia! I don’t remember being as challenging as my mother says I was. As for your dream…my mother always says “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” Apparently I’m getting payback…I have a feeling from your post that you might wind up with much the same! Thanks for responding!
You are very welcome. It was a pleasure both reading your post and responding. It brought back memories I believed long forgotten: a lovely, if somewhat childlike, glimpse into the past.
And yes…I fear you may be right about what will be coming to me. 🙂