Sunday, 10 August 2014

If I had a girl ...

You always want what you haven't got. Here's my list of things I would do if I had a girl.

Above: how my daughter and I would get around town ... if I had one ... 

I am the mother of three boys. This means people often ask me if I would have liked a girl. The honest answer to that is: yes. I would have loved to have had a girl, quite simply because I am a girl and it would be great to have a like-minded soul in the house.

But if you write yourself a list, the pros and cons of boys versus girls basically balances itself out. Boys wee on the toilet seat, but girls steal your hair elastics. Boys are noisy and physically combative, but girls can be quietly devious and they really hold a grudge. Boys leave dinosaurs, LEGO and trucks all over the house for you to trip over; girls leave pink fluffy bits and creepy pony-things with hair-dos everywhere.

It’s much of a muchness.

I love my three boys, they are awesome company. We also like a lot of the same things: science fiction movies, Japanese food, walks in the park, Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller. We think the same things are funny and we all prefer the humanities over the hard core sciences.

But sometimes, just sometimes, like when I trip over another plastic machine gun or I have to scour the boys’ clothing section in the local department store, I fantasise about what it would be like if I had just one “pink one.”

Here is my completely fantastical and unrealistic list of all the awesome things I think I could do if I had a girl.

1. Do perfect plaits on someone else’s hair


I love doing other people’s hair. When I was a kid, I had an extensive Barbie collection plus a Barbie Fashion Face and hair-dos were my stock in trade. It’s not the same doing plaits on your own hair – you get sore arms and one of the plaits always turns out back-to-front.

If I had a girl, I would be able to do awesome plaits in her hair, plus we could experiment with things like French braids, chignons and sock buns. So many hair-dos and no-one to do them on.

2. Go shopping in the girls’ clothes section of a department store


FYI mothers of girls only: you are spoilt for choice in that completely fabulous girls’ wear section. You’ve got your smock top and leggings combos, you’ve got your little tops with ruffles on them, you’ve got your stripes, your florals, your polka-dots, your gelato colours, your rainbow motifs AND  you’ve got those completely adorable knee-high boots with comfy rubber soles (that I actually want for myself) and that’s not even counting all the cute dresses and fairy tutus!

Do you know what we have in the boys’ section? Two choices: your basic drug dealer/pimp look in a crazy patterned hoodie, or your boring and conservative nerd-goes-to-Sunday-School in checks and stripes outfit. So you’ve got your skateboard punk or your Christian Antioch youth. There is no in-between. There’s no room for a boy who say, likes fashion but doesn’t fit into either of the aforementioned categories.  Sure, you can get some good stuff if you go designer and splash around a LOT of cash (say in Pavement or Industrie) but I’m talking about the average middle-class budget here.

Sometimes, I wander into the girls’ section and just touch things. It’s heavenly in there.

3. Buy the mother-load of Barbie stuff


When I was a kid, only my American friend, Jordi had all the cool gear like the camper and the dream house, because she brought it all with her from the US. These days, what with internet shopping and the global economy, you can get that stuff here! Plus the outfits! The accessories! The complete range of personalities and looks!  These days, Barbie has ‘careers’ that define her – and a pink espresso machine.

Every year I ask my boys to get me a Barbie for Christmas. They think I’m joking. I’m not.

4. Decorate a girl’s room


With regard to soft furnishings, it’s a bit like the clothing thing. The choices for boys are: dinosaurs, spacemen, pirates, cowboys and masculine checks. It’s very hard to make something visually pleasing with that palette. Plus, girls tend to personalise their space a bit more lovingly.

My friend has two girls and their bedrooms are quite simply, delightful. They each have a little dresser with a mirror; there’s pink sparkly throw cushions on the bed and the bed itself is shrouded in the soft veil of a mosquito net. The word “LOVE” is spelled out in photographs of the family on the pinboard; there’s a row of coloured fairy lights pinned to the wall and a variety of shoe styles to suit every outfit and mood are painstakingly laid out in neat rows on a shoe rack.

Do you know what we have in my boys’ rooms? A big box full of guns, every available surface covered in LEGO, cowboy doona covers and dirty old sneakers thrown into a big plastic bucket.

5. Go shopping in a proper wafty, just passing the time, way


My boys are quite good shoppers, but for them, it’s a search and destroy mission. There’s no wafting around until something-you-didn’t-know-you-needed catches your eye. They need an objective, a plan of attack and then it’s mission accomplished and we’re out of here.

My mother, sister and I, have a completely different approach: we go in with a vague idea, we waft, we split up and keep in contact via mobile phones, we come back together and give opinions. If someone (usually Mum) puts their hand on a pair of jeans with a 12-inch zipper we say, “Seriously, how long does your zipper need to be?” If someone else (usually me or my sister) puts her hand on something from Perri Cutten we say, “Oh hello, Morag! Are you ready for the retirement home?” It’s a social activity, it’s collaborative and it’s relaxing.

There’s nothing relaxing about going shopping with boys: they’re either underneath the racks making the clothes spin with their feet, or they’re being all business-like and choosing the first thing they lay their hands on and saying: “Yep, that’ll do. Let’s go.”

It’s hunter versus gatherer and I’m a gatherer.

6. Watch dumb girly movies at the multiplex


Instead of wasting my time watching some dumb action movie with talking machines in it, I would like to waste my time watching some dumb romcom with talking hair-dos in it.

7. Pass on my vast collection of Alannah Hill cardigans, smart coats and fabuloso boots of every genre and style


I have a seriously fantastic wardrobe. There is so much good stuff in there. And no one to hand it down to. I’d love to keep it all in the family, so to speak.

8. Be a completely fearsome MOTB and GMOTB


That’s: Mother Of The Bride and Grandmother Of The Baby.

Let’s face it, the boy’s mum is a bit peripheral on both these things. It’s all about the ladies when it comes to weddings and babies. When I got married, my own mother-in-law was left completely out in the cold while Mum and I planned the whole thing in a completely inept and lacklustre way. It must have been excruciating for my MIL because a) she only has boys and b) planning fabulous events is her forte (this I know now).

But she wasn’t MY mum and it’s all about the bride.

It’s the same with babies. We all say, “Oh, let’s not tell anyone until we’re past the 12-week mark.” And then we immediately go and ring our mums. And would we take our mother-in-law’s advice on breastfeeding and baby routines? Neee-owww! (No) Maternal grandma is queen bee in this department, too.

On the upside, I won’t have to pay for any weddings. High five testosterone-forming-stem-cells!

9. Have the “now you’re a woman” talk


Just kidding.  How happy am I that I won’t have to do this? I shut my own mother down when she tried to have it with me 30 years ago.

10. Give extensive advice on frenemies


Recently my twins recounted a story where one of their friends had a little hissy fit because he wasn’t given the role he wanted during a classroom group activity. When the twins tried to explain their side of it to him, the friend shouted: “I don’t wanna hear it!” And huffed off to the other side of the classroom.

“Then what happened?” I asked, expecting that they had persevered with trying to appease him and engaged in some serious emotional entanglement and passive-aggressive argy-bargy.
“We just ignored him,” they said, and then they changed the subject and started talking about something else.

Oh, to be a boy! It was as simple as that. Someone got upset, they ignored him. That was that. They’ll all be friends again tomorrow.

I have had some serious “frenemies” in my time and I really feel I could impart quality knowledge on the topic of how to handle tricky female friendships. But my boys will never need my advice on that one.

Boys are so cut and dried. They have no stamina for grudge-holding nor do they heed any of the unspoken, “You should have known what I was thinking and feeling” subtext.

Which, come to think of it, is what I love about boys. And why I love having a house full of them.

So, do I really wish I had a girl?

No, not really. I may be missing out on shopping, planning a wedding and playing hairdresser, but on the upside, I didn’t have to go and see Frozen and I don’t have to guard my hair accessories. I just put them down and when I come back, they’re exactly where I left them.

Tell me, mothers of girls, is that what happens in your house?

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