Thursday, March 05, 2009

Boys Vs. Girls

I've never really dealt that much in gender stereotypes, especially when it comes to my kids. I want Maggie to be Maggie and Will to be Will, and am trying really hard to not make my kids relieve or fix my own childhood (and I'll let you know as soon as I figure that out to my satisfaction).

But it's funny to see the kind of things I hoped to avoid play themselves out right in front of my eyes.

for example, Maggie was always been more of a tomboy and less of a girlie girl, which I am actually very proud of. When I pick her up from school, most of the time she's barrelling around the playground with the boys or scaling one of the climbers while all the other little girls are clustered in one corner, playing some cooperative, imaginative, well-regulated game.

But. As she's gotten older, the influence of the older girls is starting to meld with the normal gender-identification stuff they start doing at this age, and suddenly there is LOTS of pink in my house. Maggie insists that her favorite colors are pink and purple, she is super attached to me because we are both on the "girl team," and yes, those evil princesses have made their debut in my house.

I hold the line on that one -- no clothing with their images on it, and very little of the avalanche of plastic crap that lines Target. However, one cannot attend a birthday party without the goody bag being filled with princessy trinkets, and I have caved on things like a book at a mom-to-mom sale for 25 cents.

Of course, she also has dinosaur PJs clearly meant for boys (why aren't dinosaurs gender-neutral? Annoying), loves her baseball mitt, and has, um, hitting issues at school.

Will, however, is such a boy. And I hate saying that, because why wouldn't girls like to bang every single toy they touch on the floor, or play with cars, or climb like little monkeys? And as a matter of fact Maggie did some of that -- her Easter basket had Matchbox cars in it last year, for example. But she hasn't done any of those things with the single minded determination with which Will does it.

Of course, he's also obsessed with her light-up wand she plays with in the tub, loves anything sparkly and likes her My Little Pony.

I know their personalities will grow and change as they do, and that their likes and dislikes will be informed by a million things in addition to gender. But it's funny to see these very gendered behaviors from both of them right now, and equally funny to see the ways in which they deviate.


caramama said...

This fascinates me. The Pumpkin very much has those traits usually attributed to boys, BUT she is also showing some girly interests as well. I'm excited from an anthropological aspect to see just how different or the same the boy will be! Very interesting to hear your perspective on your own kids.

As a side note, I think that I somehow found a really good balance for myself on girly things versus boy-y things. I loved pink and Barbies, but also loved GI Joe and climbing trees. As an adult, I get along really well in my male-dominated profession, and yet love wearing high heels and skirts. I think there is a balance that can be found for both girls and boys, and I'm sure you have the right attitude to help your kids find it.

(About the VBAC vs. planned C-section... I remember reading Will's birth story and thinking how different it was than an unplanned C-section. I will likely go back and read it again as my time gets closer. The current plan is to schedule a C-section close to my due date. If I go into labor before then, I will try for a VBAC with the acceptance that it could likely end in another C-section. If I don't go into labor by the scheduled date, I won't be trying for the VBAC. I'm trying to take a very lassiez-faire attitude about it, but I would love to hear your take on it all. Would you email me about it? Thanks!)

Oz said...

My father always says, "He's all boy," after my son does something like pour dirt on his head or climb up shelves. It really bothers me, because I know there are girls out there who do both of those things. Yet I find myself doing the same thing - thinking that he's being very boy when he does something or other. It's hard to escape, and hard to know what's personality, what's society, and what's because he's male.