‘I never realized girls were so different to boys!’ said a friend of mine recently, who’d had the good sense to produce a cherubic, crayon loving daughter, rather than a brood of unruly boys.
Her revelation occurred during a weekend spent camping with some friends in Al Ain. One of the campers was a stressed out dad of two sons, who was on his own with the little tykes, because his wife was having a night off.
‘It got to the point where we were all wondering how many times he was going to shout; ‘How many times…!’’ she chuckled, and explained that while her daughter had happily sat around the campfire drawing and toasting marshmallows, the boys had gone feral.
I didn’t like to tell her that my life is pretty much like that all the time, and that patching up broken children who have swan dived off the sofa ‘just to see what it’s like’, or sliced off their fingers in the spokes of their bike, is an everyday occurrence.
Personally, I don’t think anything prepares you for the onslaught of sons – not even the fact that I grew up with five (yes, five) brothers; because little boys are destructive, unevolved hooligans, plain and simple…
Take our vast toy collection.
In our house, if a toy hasn’t been mended at least once, chances are, it’s so boring that it’s never even been played with. The plastic crates that house hundreds of mini cars, planes, trains, automobiles, toy sub-machine guns (we’re not PC) and slime monster action figures, are also littered with the kind of carnage usually associated with motorway pile-ups.
Broken axles, severed limbs, stray heads, crushed suspensions (from being trodden on) and doors that have been ripped off on impact (after being thrown with deadly accuracy by the toddler) are the residual soup, within which, the more robust (read boring) toys reside.
And sometimes toys are used in ways you would never even imagine. Only the other day, I had to confiscate several model planes after the toddler discovered he could make his older brother scream if he stabbed him with them.
This brings me to our latest toy shop casualties.
Oldest son had been after one of those radio controlled helicopters that are all the rage at the moment, and as luck would have it, a complementary one came our way. The helicopter was also accompanied by a large radio controlled monster truck.
As predicted, the boys were beside themselves with joy, and we began the proceedings by starting up the monster truck.
Surprising us all with its level of extreme campness, the beefy toy, once battery-filled, played a rendition of Kylie’s ‘Can’t get you out of my head,’ to an impressively flashy LED disco accompaniment, as it zipped about the room, its doors jauntily opening and closing…
It was, DH and I decided later, rather like an enormous, championship rugby player who suddenly announces to the world that he’s gay…
For about 30 seconds, we all gaped at the thing in rapturous delight, until, unable to contain his excitement any longer, the toddler surrendered to his primal urges. Quick as a flash, he grabbed his mini baseball bat from the toybox (a gift from his child-free aunt), and, without warning, began smashing the living daylights out of the thing…
DH and I watched in horror as fatal blows reigned down upon the wonderful, singing truck. We apprehended our hoodie-in-the-making as soon as we could. But it was too late. And now, although some of the lights still flash, the doors no longer open, and Kylie only brokenly sings ‘nah nah, nah…’
Hoping to have more success with the helicopter, DH presented it to oldest son, with some sage flying advice, and we proudly observed his skills as he took it for an inaugural flight. All went well, until it was time to land. The unfortunate helicopter came down badly and lost a landing wheel.
DH rolled his eyes and said impatiently, ‘I told you to be careful. Give it to me and I’ll show you how to do it.’ Obediently, oldest son, (who was mortified at the damage he’d caused to the precious toy), handed over the controls.
DH, a might too heavy-handed on the RC, launched the helicopter into the air with gusto, but then lost control of it, and it flew demonically towards him like a giant, humming hornet.
‘GAHHHUURYYY!’ was the noise he made as he just about managed to dodge out of the way.
Seconds later, the helicopter crashed spectacularly and, (blades still spinning furiously) got itself trapped under the Thomas the Tank Engine train table. Like a panicking bird, it skittered and spun wildly, as bits of plastic flew off it in all directions.
At this point, I took myself off to the kitchen for a cup of tea, and I didn’t look back.
‘Don’t you think it would be lovely to have a little girl?’ I asked DH, several hours later, as he tried in vain to fix the flying machine. ‘Dolls houses rarely break you know. And girls are so quiet. They spend ages colouring apparently, and they actually sleep through the night at three months…’
DH harrumphed and continued with the super glue. ‘Oh yes,’ he replied eventually, ‘it would be fine for the first 13 years. But after that, you’d have to get used to my shotgun practice for when boyfriends start to appear. And, there are some things that can’t be fixed with epoxy!’