its like some sort of perfume, that the ladies in the malls spray on you as you go... the flinch factor... i venture to say that it is boy-related. With my older son, I literally have learned that it is to my benefit to 'look away' when he is doing something dangerous. If I do not react, if I let him loose in the backyard, he is less prone to fall or do violence to his own body as part of his play. ( I do not refer to self-immolation ) The 20 month old is mimicking his older brother in ways that I can only describe as incredible. He can fit his tubby body through the top rung of the banister, next to the chimney and believes himself capable of hanging gracefully at the very top of the stairs, on the OUTSIDE of said bannister. The collection of sticks we have near the fireplace, those that we have gathered from walks, ALL become weapons. You would think we were watching war movies from the way the play evolves. BUT NO. PBS rules our lives in media, and we do not play with guns, and we will never buy a gun toy, ever. they are not toys. When raising these boys, there is a definite and palpable tension between my femininity and the masculinity of these two. Feeling that your children are foreign to you, balls of activity and aggression that bounce from room to room, off one another and oneself makes mothering something of a challenge. I admit that I may be wrong, but I am not certain that the feeling of 'foreign' is one that mothers of girls share. Please correct me, I certainly mean no 'girls are easier' commenting. THere are many very active girls out there, and many other issues that femininity may bring to the game that I know nothing about. but I LONG for crayons and art to play a part in my children's lives, and yet, the time is not here. My four year old can play for 20 minutes with 'figures' in imaginative play... and I am very blessedly happy about that, but that is our only down time- all day. When angry, the boys hit. Hard, fast, and feet are frequently employed. I am a strong mother, and I do not tolerate these things and yet I am in a constant state of flinch.