It’s amazing the amount of sympathy I get when I tell people that I am the mother of four boys.
“Oh really? You poor thing…” they say, clutching their chest as though they are about to have a coronary.
But being in the minority isn’t new to me. I grew up with three big brothers. No sisters. I was an ‘after thought’ and my introduction to the family coincided with my mother using me as a live mannequin to educate my eight and ten year old brothers about the differences between boys and girls. Sex Ed 101. It still sends shivers down my spine to this day.
You can imagine, with three brothers, my life was pretty rough and tumble. I could kick a footy and throw over arm before I could write my own name, lived in jeans and shorts and was eleven before I noticed my eyes were green. The scars on my body resemble a road map to a childhood not spent in front of a television.
I learnt to ‘suck it up’ and ‘not be a princess’ early, as my brothers farted on my head, tickled me until I wet my pants and forced me to hit myself in the face with my own hand. I was paid twenty cents to walk two kilometres on dirt roads to get their goodies at the shop. I was even paid the whopping sum of one dollar to clean week old vomit off my brother’s shoes after his 21st birthday party.
In my first year at school I came home with a black eye, the result of some little horror’s temper. Thinking it was dirt my mother scrubbed and scrubbed with a flannel until it dawned on her that the dirt was swelling.
Incensed, my oldest brother, a tall fifteen year old, taught me to fight like a boy. By the end of our lessons I had mastered being able to wind someone, so when he told me to hit him, I did. He fell forward like a broken sapling, gasping for the air that had been forced out of his lungs by my tiny, but well trained, fist. He returned the favour as soon as he was able to stand upright and then it was my turn to gasp for air. I was five. Suck it up princess.
So as you can see, my childhood was the perfect training ground for life as a mother of four boys. In fact, it’s been invaluable. Nothing gets my eldest boy out of bed in the morning like a threat to fart on his head. It beats water sprays, promises of an early night or taking him to school in his pyjamas.
I can even share my pearls of wisdom with them, such as: don’t be the last brother to use the toilet at night. Either hold on to it until morning or go first, because the stench will probably kill you. At the dinner table it’s eat or be eaten – lick all your food in full sight of others so that wandering hands won’t be tempted to remove it from your plate. And my favourite, take any opportunity you get to take the piss out of your brothers. When they do the same to you, cop it sweet. This is the part in your life where you learn not to take yourself so seriously, because I promise you, your brothers will fight each other to be the one to prick your balloon should your feet ever leave the ground. God bless family.