Do all little boys like [eating] dirt?

Being a parent for the first time and having a boy is proving to be a wonderful experience but isn’t a task I was completely prepared for, so, I read a book.  ‘Raising boys’ by Steve Buddulph, insightful [book] I thought, lots of positive information, it helped me to make a clear decision to try and not prejudge my son on the basis of my own ‘male history’ as Buddulph puts it in his book.  Hah, easier said than done I now realise, having had to bite my tongue on a number of occasions, when my little bundle of joy might decide to push his luck, test the boundaries or simply scratch his bottom.


As he grows from day to day, discovering new and exciting objects, I find myself smiling endearingly, watching him figure out how to use the telephone, as he makes a pretend call to grandpa or shake my head when he takes the hair dryer for a walk around the house, however my smile turns to a stare of shock/disbelief when I find him poking and eating the dirt from my potted plants or sucking on stones from the back garden.  One of his newest obsessions involves throwing his snacks [raisins or cheerio’s] all over the ground, no matter where they might land, he promptly picks them up and tries to eat them all, before mum can get her hands on them first.  Stopping for a second, I would love to know what makes them taste all the better for having been on the ground, imagining the next thing might be for him to do a little dance over the scattered cheerio’s before cheerily popping them into his mouth [River Dance momentarily flashing through my mind].


Having flicked through many of the parenting books out there, I have yet to come across one that mentions eating dirt as a normal stage of development.  So is it safe to bare all at my local mum and tots group or should I wait to chat to a random mum in Boots or Mothercare?  At least then should the conversation get overly embarrassing I could smile pleasantly and walk briskly away, safe in the knowledge that I probably wouldn’t ever meet this person again.


And what goes through the mind of a fifteen month old boy – a little boy who is very steady on his feet, likes rough and tumble play, tickles from head to toe, raspberries on his belly, splashing water all around the bathroom at wash time while sucking the water from his face cloth.  At a loss to understand, why, my son chooses to eat dirt again and again, really, how great could dirt taste?  Thinking that I’ll skip the experience and hoping at the same time this is not a non verbal insult to my cooking abilities.


The nursery rhyme “What are little boys made of?” pops into my head, “Snips of snails and puppy dogs tails, that’s what little boys are made of”.  Hmm, did I mention, I caught my son poking a snail the other day considering now, maybe eating dirt isn’t the worst mischief for a little boy?!


Sarah Docherty – June 2009


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