Sugar and spice and everything nice,
that’s what little girls are made of.
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,
that’s what little boys are made of.
This mentality drives me absolutely bonkers. Whenever I see this: #boys… or #lifewithgirls… or #itsaboyslife, I get a little peeved, because I know I’m about to see some little girl in a tutu or some little boy covered in mud. I can’t stand the implication that life with boys is the total opposite of life with girls – and especially the implication that life with girls is a piece of cake in comparison. It hasn’t been my experience at all, and from the parents I’ve talked to about it, it hasn’t been their experience either.
Please don’t misunderstand – I was a teacher for 9 years. I’ve seen the differences between male and female children, and I’m well aware that the major stereotypes are true. The differences in the way boys and girls play, interact with each other, approach their schoolwork, and show affection are all obvious if you’ve spent any amount of time with a group of kids.
The problem for me is that while the broad stereotypes ring true, I’ve found that in almost every single application of #lifewithboys could easily be changed to #lifewithgirls. At least, this is the case in my house. Legos in the dryer? #lifewithgirls. Preferring to run around naked? #girls. Throwing a complete tantrum in the middle of the parking lot over not riding in the Home Depot car cart? #thismomistiredofthegirldramaovercars. In my opinion, none of it has anything to do with having boys or girls, but everything to do with having kids.
I recently read a blog post that caused me to vent a while to my best friend (a mom of 3 boys who totally gets me on this topic). The post was about things moms of boys must be prepared to deal with, and covered things like messy bathrooms during bath time, daredevil acts, and playing with unexposed body parts. As I read the list I realized that almost every one of those items was something I’ve also experienced (most on a regular basis), and – gasp – I have daughters.
Curious, I searched the internet for blog posts or articles on raising girls to see what “difficulties” we might face, and to see if any of them were truly unique to girls. I almost gagged on what I found: be prepared to cuddle a lot. Be aware that she might want to “borrow” your things at a young age. Be ready for her to do well in school. Be warned that you might get jealous of the attention her daddy gives her. Be prepared to buy her stuff she doesn’t need.
Seriously? Could none of these also apply to boys?
Let me be clear here. It ain’t all pinks and glitter with girls – at least, not in our house. My daughters love to tell jokes about pee and poo. They spend afternoons digging in the mud for earthworms. Emily wanted hermit crabs, not a fluffy bunny. Julia has been launching herself off of our sofa onto the tile since she was about a year old without a drop of fear or without learning any caution, despite the repeated injuries. Both girls are constantly sweaty and dirty. Their favorite colors are blue and green. Legos turn up in my dryer all the time, and although we’ve got our fair share of girly toys we’ve also got matchbox cars, a train set, and squirt guns. And I wouldn’t want them any other way.
I am so proud that my girls don’t fit into a mold or an antiquated saying. They’ll wrestle on the floor just as quickly as they’ll dance to a Tinkerbell song. They might let you paint their nails, but they’ll ask for black polish before asking for pink. Sure, they dress up and enjoy their coloring books, but to imply that a wet bathroom floor is something to expect when you have boys is ludicrous. Barbies can splash just as much as toy sharks. Trust me.
I had originally planned to write my own post titled “What to Expect when Raising Girls,” full of things like how you should be prepared to spend 20 minutes getting their braids just right, only to have them rip them out 2 minutes after you finish… how half your income will be spent at Claire’s on things that will go perfectly with their outfits, only to have them insist on wearing their ghastly orange Halloween bow all year… and the long discussion on why girls have to sit to go potty but boys get to stand. But I realized that writing that post would make me a hypocrite.
I’m not sure why moms of girls tend to focus on how dainty their girls are, while moms of boys lean towards sharing their sons’ more energetic behaviors. I guess I’d just love to see less #lifewithboys or #lifewithgirls and more #lifewithkids. Or maybe this momma is just asking for an understanding that many of these day-to-day things could apply to both.
Rant over. I’ve got to strip my girls out of their pink and purple outfits so they can give the bathroom floor a bubble bath with their Barbies.