Friday, October 19, 2007

Boys -- they take their toll

Here’s how our day with the boys began: 6:35 a.m. A far-off noise wakes Rob off. Soon we discover it’s Will crying from the kitchen. He got up and rather than coming to wake us up, decided to be self-sufficient and strap himself into the booster chair where he eats his oatmeal. (We still haven’t graduated him from the thing because he’s a bit short and he prefers the seat to perching on phone books or encyclopedias.) But then he was trapped – stuck in his chair with no parents and no oatmeal. So he had to cry and cry until we were roused from our sleepiness. Might have been a few minutes, might have been twenty. Either way, self-imprisoned red-eyed Will was a rather pathetic sight.

And this is how our day ended: After an hour of quiet time but no nap, Will suffered through a series of meltdowns from 5:30 pm. to 6:30, at which point we tried to corral him toward bed but had to deal with more meltdowns on the way. (I never realized how much I loved Will’s nap until he stopped taking it.) Finally at 7:30 we had both Owen and Will down so I snuck off for an hour to visit a friend who’s been ill. On my way home, I answered the cell phone to hear both boys crying in the background. Overtired Will was having trouble sleeping and had been up three times since I’d been gone and Owen was crying inconsolably.

Sure having kids is a joyous life-giving experience, but days like these make you wonder if it’s also life-draining. Here’s some evidence from Finland suggesting that having boys, in particular, takes a toll – almost a year off your life compared to having girls, in fact.

(Evolutionary biologist Virpi Lummaa argues that birth weight (male babies are usually larger) and testosterone (which can compromise mother’s immune system) are the main reasons for the difference. Plenty of moms out there might suspect the general rambunctiousness and recklessness of boys – and the stress they cause their moms -- as factors as well.

And yeah, I’m feeling drained tonight, but I’d gladly exchange the last withering year or two of my life for my two little bundles of testosterone.

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