Monday, October 12, 2009

Boys and Girls Really Are Different

Although my disclaimer is that I have two daughters, no sons. But still, I see such contrasts between boys and girls so often, both at the library and in my years as a schoolteacher. I once had a class of second graders with fourteen girls and six or seven boys. It was an absolute dream. Quiet, peaceful, obedient. Another year I had the opposite - twice as many boys as girls. I found another job that June. Truthfully, I had been toying with idea of trying a different career for a while, but that year probably pushed me over the edge. I went back to teaching a couple of years later, and obviously I still love kids of both genders.

When my oldest daughter was a toddler in a high chair I gave her a banana to eat. She pulled off the peel, laid the banana down on the high chair tray and covered it gently with the peel, saying "Night, night." Can any of you moms of sons imagine your boy doing that? Most likely you would have been shot at by the banana-gun. Pow! Pow!

Such stereotyping! you say. Stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason. Of course there are exceptions, but testosterone really does make a difference. Studies have shown that when boys and girls play, they vocalize at the same rate, but girls are using words and boys are making sound effects. I noticed too, when I was teaching school, that every spring while the boys were out kicking the ball around, the girls started bickering and picking on each other. After recess a girl would be crying or complaining about hurt feelings and needing help solving relationship problems. I called it our version of spring fever.

So while we don't need to feed stereotypes, I think it's great that we aren't "monosexed," to coin a term. I think we're better parents if we recognize the real differences and help teach our kids how to deal with the opposite sex in the real world. If your daughter is a total tomboy, or your son loves his doll, no problem. But I've also found value in telling my teenage daughters not to expect boys to sit and talk endlessly about their feelings. "Boys will be boys." (And cliches become cliches for a reason!)


The Halgren's said...

That is so true! Raleigh and Audrey are so different! Audrey is always hugging her dolls and bears while Raleigh gets a sword and beats it. For such a quiet boy, he can sure hold his own against a teddy bear, haha! I get so annoyed when people say that we force boys to do boy things and vice versa. Remember Raleigh's Dora baby? Now it is stuffed somewhere in his closet and only gets pulled out when Audrey won't share her dolls!

The Storylady said...

I thought of Raleigh and his Dora when I wrote this, and I have always been glad that you didn't have a problem with him enjoying his doll.