I always knew my husband and I would have a boy. An ultrasound at 21 weeks proved I was right.
Usually I love being right.
Not this time.
Aside from my adorable Baby Brother, I found boy children exhausting. They didn’t sit still, they didn’t listen, and they were super messy.
I tried to psyche myself up for a boy. Maybe my child would read books and be nerdy, like my brothers. Maybe I wouldn’t have to chase him all over creation with food and soap. Maybe he’d be sweet and compliant.
“It’s all in the parenting,” became my daily mantra. I vowed to put my kid in swimming. He’d learn to ride a bike. He’d play soccer. I’d teach him to clean up after himself, and he wouldn’t have time to draw on the walls or dig up the yard.
I told Andy, “I bet those terrors I babysat would’ve been delightful young men if their parents given them exercise, discipline, and affection.”
Andy gave me a look. “Isn’t that what the Dog Whisperer tells people who own destructive dogs to do?”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t see how it is not also applicable to the male animal.”
Andy laughed and said “Sure, honey. Sure.”
About the time I’d convinced myself I could manage a son, First Nephew came to visit. (All my family comes to visit because of Disneyland Proximity/ Free Place to Stay.)
First Nephew was about five years old. While his mother, Pretty Space Cadet Sister, worked on cross-stitching and read books, First Nephew wrestled and played tug-o-war with my dog Woofie. Woofie weighed ninety pounds. First Nephew weighed thirty-five. First Nephew lost every time, but never gave up.
When Woofie collapsed from exhaustion, First Nephew found a carabiner and cable. He hooked himself up to our outdoor umbrella. Then he yelled,” Look, Auntie Autumn! I’m climbing Mt. Washington!” and tried to repel up the umbrella.
After saving child and umbrella, I sent First Nephew to repel up an actual tree.
He did. Then he got bored and repelled up the swing. As the swing weighed less than First Nephew, rescue was again in order.
The repelling gear was repossessed and we went to a park. The park had a three-story rocket ship. First Nephew went up and down for an hour.
I thought he’d be tired when we got home. Instead of a nap, he tore around the house. “Auntie Autumn! Watch me bonk my head!” First Nephew would yell, running head first into the sofa cushions.
I begged off the following day at Disneyland and lay around the house in a stupor. Andy finally asked what was wrong
“I can’t do it,” I moaned. “I just can’t. I know I used to dance non-stop entire weekends, lift weights, swim, and even run 10Ks. But I’m exhausted after just two days of trying to keep up with First Nephew. And I’m going to have a boy of my own soon and I. Just. Can’t.” I put my head down and sobbed.
“It’ll be okay, honey,” Andy said, patting my back.
Sudden fury gave me the strength to lift my head and glare. “It will for you,” I snarled. “You’ll be safe at work with adults. You can close your door and nap. I’ll be the one trying to chase down a rabid mongoose with opposable thumbs before it climbs on the roof with matches.”
Andy wisely said nothing. He also removed all the matchbooks in the house before First Nephew returned from Disneyland.
After First Nephew returned to New England, I got a call from my OB. She said, “Your hemogloblin levels are so low you are now anemic. I’ve sent a prescription for iron supplements to your pharmacy. Pick it up right away and start eating meat, kale, and spinach.”
“I would if those things didn’t make me gag,” I told her.
“Eat some iron-fortified cereal. Preferably one with a lot of fiber, because a side effect of those iron pills is constipation.”
“Oh, that sounds fabulous,” I grumbled.
“It’ll give you more energy.”
“Wait. That’s why I’m so tired? I’m anemic?” Apparently a side effect of anemia is being seriously slow on the uptake.
“Yes. Now go get your pills ASAP and pick up some Grapenuts.”
I took my pills and her advice. I was chowing down on cereal when Andy got home.
He asked, “Why are you eating gravel?”
“Good news!” I told him. “I’m anemic!”
“It’s good news because that’s why I was so tired! I thought I just couldn’t manage a boy child, but it was only the anemia talking. I’m going to be fine!”
I would have liked to be right about that, too.