Not all boys are loud, dirty, messy, into sports and rough play. That’s a stereotype.
But that stereotype is alive and well in my all boy house. And while their interests are growing and changing as they get older and sometimes tend to mirror my own, they still typically fit those “you know you have all boys when…” lists.
But I do have nieces. Some I get to see often, some I at least FaceTime often, some I don’t get to see much, and some whom I’m sort of a pseudo-aunt to. And here’s what that looks like(as a warning to their parents… or just an explanation, since they’ve already seen some of this in action):
I’ll want to buy her clothes. There are so many different options for girls than there are for boys. And I won’t even go overboard on the pinks and purples. I’ll want to, but hey, I’ve seen sparkly tutus in blue and frilly superhero shirts. And don’t even get me started on the shoes and the jewelry!
I’ll spend hours in the “pink” toy aisles and probably buy something you won’t want me to. Littlest Pet Shop toys have a million pieces but ohmygosh, they’re so cute. Or dolls or stuffed animals or… just all the sorts of things I can’t buy for my boys without them rolling their eyes and saying “Moooo-oooom, that’s for giiiiiiirrrrrls.” I will probably even spend more than I intend to because I’m getting to buy something I don’t usually get to and I love the excuse.
I’ll also buy her something that’s maybe a little out of the “girl” zone. When my boys play with something amazing and it’s something I think hey, that’s cool for boys or girls even though it’s in the boy aisle, I’ll probably buy it for your daughter. It might not immediately be her favorite(which is why it will probably arrive on your doorstep with something else that I know she’ll like), but I’ll hope you’ll have her give it a shot anyway.
I’ll want to cheer on her girl power. Whether that’s in her dance recital or if she’s like my boys and she’s out on the soccer or baseball or (insert whatever sport here) field.
I’ll tell her she’s smart and beautiful and strong. It doesn’t have to be just one or two of these. She can be all three. And I’ll want her to know.
I’ll want her to stay with me every summer when she’s old enough. Maybe for a week or just a few days if that’s all you’re comfortable with. But I’ll want her to spend time with her boy cousins, because they love her and will show her she has boys who have got her back. I’ll want her to be close to me because….
I’ll want her to know I’ll listen to her. I know your little girl can tell you anything right now. But the tween and teen years are coming. And sometimes a girl doesn’t feel like she can tell her parents everything, much as you’ll want her to. I want her to know that she has me to go to if she needs to confide something and hopefully that will reassure you, too.
I don’t long for a daughter of my own. I love my three boys, wouldn’t trade any of ’em in if I could, and I’m years past wanting to go back to the baby stage again. But having a niece is special. Hearing “I love you Aunt-uh-shell” one of the sweetest things I’ve experienced.
And yes, it is different than with my nephews. Don’t think I’m leaving them out. I still want to spoil them and tell them they’re smart, handsome, and strong. I’ll listen to them and invite them here, too. There’s an ease to it because it feels like what I do with my own boys: as if I’m just adding one more to our crew.
Whereas a niece… in a house full of boys… well, it is different.