I’m going to break all the rules of good writing and tell you the punch line first. Here you go.
The truth about boys and girls is (drum roll, please…): They are different. I know that comes as a shock (especially considering what my youngest son asked for for Christmas), but I have clear and decisive evidence. Ready?
Exhibit One: My friend Missy (who keeps an awesome blog called “Let Em Go Barefoot“) recently went for a walk with her daughter Sadie, and they came home with this:
So pretty. I imagine they made lovely decorations throughout her home. A few days later, I went walking with two of my boys, Eli and Everett. We came home with this:
Which is frankly terrific. Flowers would not have coordinated nearly as well with the decor in that room:
I’m pretty sure we’re only a few pieces shy of having Rudolph’s entire endoskeleton ready for assembly in our sun room. If the boys figure out how to resurrect him, he’ll work nicely with the bowls of tadpoles and other living pond life scattered artfully around the room.
Lest you think perhaps this difference (which extends to their auditory habits and leisure activities as well) has something to do with upbringing, please refer back to the Christmas story. And this. When Monty was still a squiggly little larva in my belly, we told everyone to please buy gender-neutral colors and styles for our baby-to-be. We were to have no play guns, and only gender-balanced toys in the house. For every toy truck, there would be a toy doll. For every train set, there would be a tea set. Our son would not be trained to like “boy” things.
Not that he appreciated our attention to these details. For the first few weeks after arrival, he was mostly interested in boobs and ceiling fans and had absolutely nothing to say about issues of gender equality whatsoever, so long as the milk bar was open 24 hours a day. But after a couple months, he started to take notice of things. Mostly big loud things with lots of moving parts, like garbage trucks. As soon as he could arch his back, he would fuss and crane himself around on my shoulder, straining to look out the window when he heard the trucks rattling down the road.
At seven months, he started walking and also pointing L-shaped sticks at me and saying, “bang! bang!”
This was the point at which I conceded, to my chagrin and dismay, that indeed, boys ARE different than girls. Even little boys who ask for pink suitcases for Christmas.
Which brings us to another point.
I always thought I’d have a little girl. I’d dress her in cute clothes (OH MY GOODNESS so many cute clothes) and we’d bond while brushing out her lovely dark curls. They would definitely be dark. Each time I gave birth to one of my sons I expected him to come out with a big shock of dark hair and a face that looked like the adorable little cherub’s face in all my baby pictures. The second two I also expected to arrive with girl parts. Every single one of my children surprised me on their birthday with a minimalist’s suggestion of blond hair, and a penis.
Sometimes I feel sad about this. Like when I watched my college roommate dance with her mom on her wedding day, and I bemoaned that I would never have a daughter to watch pick out a wedding dress while I bite my tongue and try not to express how awful it is because now she’s all grown up and doesn’t need me telling her how to dress. Having a daughter would be a beautiful thing.
But of course I’m incredibly grateful for the sons I have. How could I not be? After all, you know, long hair is a pain. My middle son was born with a luxurious lawn of it all over his body. We got pretty strange looks from the midwife when we asked if any of her other clients had recently given birth to a wookie. She didn’t seem inclined to explain. Instead, she murmured softly about otter babies, swimming around in amniotic fluid, protected by a layer of fur. I hadn’t even asked about otters for goodness sake. It’s not like the child was sporting a pair of whiskers.
It turned out he wasn’t an otter at all, and the child lost most of his fuzzy covering eventually, including pretty much everything that had been on his head. It never really grew back except just enough to prevent him being classified as legally bald.
Nevertheless, at the age of 8, he wakes up every morning with the back portion of his fuzzy head looking like someone rubbed sandpaper over it all night long. And it usually stays looking that way all day. His mother is too busy thinking about important things like how to describe the particular quality of light reflecting off the mirror’s frame onto the back of her hand and what that says about the nature of God, the universe, and everything… to be thinking about whether anyone’s hair has been combed. Priorities.
So. Anyway. Imagine if one of my children were possessed of a great shock of curly dark hair. Oh my. Clearly, God knew what was what when I was assigned all boys. Whew.
What do you think? Are boys and girls really different? And does it really matter?