I’ve never understood the saying boys will be boys. I mean, are we talking about anatomy here or the high activity level of toddlers or the puppy smell they seem to bring into my kitchen after playing hard outside? 

Every time I see this phrase written, every time I hear this strange bit of advice or tip or whatever other observation you’d like to call it said about little boys, it baffles me (cue boy mom eye roll here). It’s typically said to excuse a boy’s hyper, emotionless, or other negative behavior. 

But I’m here to tell you that boys will be boys simply doesn’t make sense. And after birthing three boys from my lady parts, I’d like to claim to be a semi-professional boy expert. So one thing I know for SURE is that each one of my boys are COMPLETELY different from the brothers on either side of them. The real definition of boy reads so differently from one boy to the next, I have no clue how “boys will be boys” can sum anything up at all. 

So let me tell you a little about the things boys will actually be . . . 

Boys will be noisy. They will speak, and sing, and laugh at decibels that make a rock concert sound like the ballet. 

Boys will be quiet. They will listen, read silently, and tip-toe.   

Boys will be emotional. They cry when they are hurt, scared, worried, or mad. They scream, they kick, they need their mamas when they’re tired. They are capable of empathy and kindness. 

Boys will bounce back quickly. They forgive in an instant, and can make a quick turn from screaming and tears to smiling and laughing. They go from fighter to lover faster than an apology can be given. 

Boys will love fiercely. They will treat their mamas like gold, and be loyal friends. 

Boys will be rough. They will wrestle, hit, and kick. 

Boys will be gentle. They will hug softly, stroke their mama’s hair, and pat someone softly on the back when they’re coughing. 

Boys will be arrogant. Boys will tell you they’re great, and believe it. 

Boys will be humble. Boys will hate to be the center of attention or be praised for their thoughtfulness. 

Boys will be athletic. They will score home runs, and earn metals at swim meets. They will run fast and throw hard. 

Boys will be artsy. They will paint and color and create. 

Boys will hurt feelings. They will be unkind, and say things they don’t mean.  

Boys will be kind. They will hug a friend, sit by the new kid in school, and give compliments.  

Boys will be high energy. They will jump off bookshelves, and climb on the top of the couch, and want to bike race a moving car. 

Boys will be still. They will be your best snuggle partner in a movie theater. 

Boys will be smelly. They will sweat a lot. Their shoes will smell ungodly, and the bathroom will smell terrible when they leave it. 

Boys will be the sweetest smell on the planet. There’s something distinct about the smell of the small areas of a boy’s temples.   

So how can any one person ranging the whole spectrum be summed up by being simply a boy? My name isn’t Webster but “boy” is not a definition for one stereotypical behavior, but is actually defined as “a male child from birth to adulthood”. That definition hardly prepared me for how to parent three boys. It told me nothing about their level of activity, or emotional state, or any number of things I’ve learned from being a mom of three drastically different boys. 

So do us boy moms a favor. Tell me anything else. Anything at all. Tell me boys will be hyper, or mean, or loud, or kind or smart, or funny. 

But please, for the love of my sanity, stop telling me boys will simply be boys.

Michelle Tate

A native Texan, born and raised, I married my college sweetheart, and now spend my days raising our three young boys. In another life, I was an elementary school teacher, before diving deep in my true passion for my own babies and writing.