Three just like ya……

When my wife was expecting (yes I said my wife…..I hate that “we are expecting” crap…my wife was carrying the baby, I was just carrying extra pounds) many people assumed that I wanted a boy. I don’t remember honestly caring that much and really just wanted a healthy baby. I am a namesake, the fourth and yea it would have been cool to have a fifth. When we had three girls many assumed I was going to “try for that boy.” Yea I’m going to add another child, another life (not to mention expense) just for the chance it could possibly be a boy. Apparently it isn’t that odd a question since men usually want boys http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/06242011survey-says-dads-want-boy-babies/.

In all truth after having my first girl I thought it would be cool for the second to be a boy but it wasn’t something I anguished over. Once we had two girls I actually wanted the third to be a girl. I thought we had a certain vibe in our house that a boy would throw off. I enjoyed being the king of the castle and the only man of the house. I always wondered why on average men prefer sons and women daughters http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/19/boy-or-girl-why-dads-want-sons-but-moms-want-daughters/.

To me the answer was simple, you want what you know. I grew up a boy so obviously I would relate to boys and could make one, well, a…mini-me. But here’s the thing, my daughters have a lot of me in them. They all play soccer which is the sport my dad played and I played (among others). It was the only sport I knew enough to be able to coach and I coach my two oldest daughters. The girls are also die hard Flyers fans, as well as all the Philly sports teams and like comic books just like me.

When I was a kid and my brothers and I were acting up my Dad would say “I hope you get three just like you.” Apparently that was the refrain he would hear from his Mom and he would always tell us he did get three just like him in my brothers and I. What is funny is when my Dad would say that to us I would say defiantly “I hope I do,” well guess what? I did. And three of me is a big pain in the ass and can be maddening. Three of me can also be a lot of fun.

Going back to the articles I linked I think most parents want like sexes because they can make them a little version of themselves. Deep down I think perhaps having a child of the same sex is a bit of a shot to make a better you. How many times did you wish you had the knowledge you have now  growing up? You want to pass that knowledge to your children. Of course the rub is that just like you the older they get the less they want to listen to their parents.

The question is how much do you make your children like you? Of course you want to share your interests with your kids but you don’t want to force it. You want them to find their own way and one way you do that is by introducing them to things. And of course the things you introduce them to are your interests..it’s an ugly circle really.

Every time I watch my children I see parts of me. Like me my oldest daughter doesn’t just watch sports she dissects them. She asks questions about positions and what each player is supposed to be doing and about the rules. She just doesn’t just get into it she wants to understand it. She also enjoys being right and getting in the last word.

I was the youngest of three and my youngest shares a lot of my experiences. She shares a lot of her sister’s old clothes too, much like I did my brothers. She also does a good job of playing one sister against the other like I did. Growing up I would always team up with one brother against the other, they never ganged up on me. The same holds true for my youngest and much like me she is a master manipulator.

But of all three of them my middle child is the most like me. She doesn’t take life serious, is silly and has a great sense of humor. She is also a first class wise ass and sometimes takes things too far. On occasion I find it hard to get mad at her because it would be like yelling at a younger me.

Life has a way of repeating itself. My Dad got three boys just like him and I got three girls just like me. Now it is hard to make three girls into mini-me’s since they are the wrong gender, but they are very much me. My only hope is the same as any father’s hope and is that I make them better than me. Lucky for me that shouldn’t be too hard to do and I got my wife to make sure I don’t screw it up.

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Mean Girls

I grew up the youngest of 3 boys and let me tell you we use to fight. I’m talking knockdown, drag out brawls. There were no rules, just trying your best to inflict as much physical harm against your brother as you could. We would end up bruised, bloodied and scratched. I remember some fights starting on one side of the house and working their way to the other side. One time, I actually hit my brother Mark with a sledgehammer. Granted I was young and the hammer was as big as me but I still hit him with it.

Fights were usually spur of the moment things too. I can’t remember it resulting after days of animosity but rather one did something to tick the other off. We would get mad and it would erupt in an orgy of violence. But here is the thing, after we tried to beat the hell out of each other, things calmed down and went back to normal relatively quick. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for us to start out playing a basketball game, get mad, duke it out and half an hour to an hour later finish the game. I don’t know if that is how it goes for the majority of brothers but anecdotally I don’t think it is far off.

This brings me to my 3 lovely daughters and the fact it has caused me to think girls are much meaner than boys. See my daughters rarely fight in the physical sense. I don’t think any of them have ever punched the other although the youngest use to be a bit of a face scratchier. There is the occasional push or shove of the body or face but nothing even coming close to what my brothers and I did. Girls do not take part in physical combat, they engage in mental warfare and it is much more devastating.

Girls don’t seem to let things lay, their meanness is built on top of layers. What I mean by that is if my brother broke my toy it could lead to a fight. However, once that fight was over, it was over. I never really held it against my brother long term and any subsequent fights would be for a totally unrelated issues. With my girls it seems like they keep track of each slight and hold onto the grudge, then another slight piles on the original…and they keep piling on. When they fight it isn’t about the thing that triggered it but a weeks’ worth of transgressions committed.

The thing is my girls don’t even need a trigger to be mean to one another. I’ll give you an example. A few years ago my oldest was being bad, so we made her go to bed about a half hour earlier than usual. Her bedroom sits across from the bathroom. When I went to take my middle child to get ready for bed in the bathroom, she stopped in front of the bathroom (and my oldest bedroom door where she was still sobbing) and said “thank you Dad for letting me stay up later tonight.” I didn’t let her stay up later, it was her usual bed time but it was a chance to take a dig at her older sister. There was no build up; they hadn’t been fighting but my second daughter (who is a master at these kinds of things) saw an opportunity and took it.

Girls pick at your confidence, they don’t retaliate and try to inflict massive pain with physical violence, they break you down slowly and over time. Honestly I’m in awe of it. I couldn’t hurt my brothers that bad, no amount of punches to the face could compare to a pointed word or criticism. I only wish at that age I could devastate my brothers like my daughters do to each other. I admit the thought of my girls punching each other bothers me, but it actually might be more merciful then how they really fight.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to portray my daughters has horrible, mean spirited or hurtful people. Let’s be honest though in a house full of girls, much like my house full of boys, you fight for survival to a point. You subconsciously fight to be the dominate female/male in the house and your biggest rivals are your siblings. My brothers and I just did it much more different and I would argue humane way. I could recover from a fat lip and bloody nose; it is much harder to recover from a sharp word and poignant criticism.

Girls are just mean. Film Title: Mean Girls.

I say that equal parts jealously and respect. Much like most things in life women find the smarter, more subtle way to get the job done. Men like to beat their chest, be loud and be physical; women know the more refined, more effective way to accomplish the same thing. Not only do they accomplish the same thing they do it in a much more long lasting and demoralizing way. I have to be honest it hurts me to see them do it to each other. Nothing bothers me more than when my girls fight. As a parent who grew up with siblings you know it is a way of life but it still eats at you to see it. I know I can never stop them from fighting or being mean to each other and I’m starting to think I might not want to. Because if they aren’t fighting each other….they might turn their meanness on ME and I don’t think I could handle that.