Wednesday, September 16, 2015
The difference between girls and boys
Eleanor loves shoes. Any time she stumbles (or crawls) across a pair of shoes, or just a shoe, she stops to put it on. I heard her screaming bloody murder the other day, and ran to find out what glass she had stepped on or who had pulled her arms out of their sockets. I found her next to the door with a pair of my flip flops, trying desperately to keep them on while crawling across the floor. Whenever she gets bored downstairs, she crawls to the shoe room and plays with the shoes.
I bought Eleanor a pair of flip flops in July and pulled them out to check the fit. As soon as she spied the bright pink-orange shoes, she started gabbling excitedly and excitedly extended her foot to me. I put one on and she stuck out the other foot, waving it around impatiently. She strutted proudly around the room on my finger before I sat her down to take them off for packing. She cried as soon as they were off and couldn't be comforted when they disappeared into the suitcase.
She also loves baby dolls. When she was eight or nine months old, the girls handed her a doll. She immediately grabbed it, cooing in delight, and clasped it to her chest in joy. After she learned to crawl up stairs, she would often sneak off to the girls' room to find their secret doll box. She would pull out the box and scatter dolls across the floor, cooing over each one, patting their hair and trying to take their clothes off.
I held a friend's young baby last week, and Eleanor took off across the floor, heading straight towards me. She crawled over and pulled herself up on the couch. She stood in front of him, gabbing excitedly and stomping her short fat legs in absolute joy. "Look, Mom!" she seemed to say, "It's a real baby doll! How exciting!!!"
Clothes are Eleanor's third favorite thing. If I forget to close her drawers, I will inevitably find her sitting amidst piles of clothes scattered across her floor. She is usually trying to put a skirt on her head, a shirt on her legs, and a diaper cover on her arms. If she finds anyone's clothes on the floor - including her brothers' dirty underwear - she immediately tries to put it on. Getting dressed is her favorite part of the day. Her sister's hair brush is something to be found and snatched.
A few days ago I found a thin white dress-up glove on the floor. Eleanor crawled over to inspect it, and stuck her hand out. I put it on. After cooing over her fashion accessory, she crawled off across the room. I looked up a few minutes later as Eleanor crawled back to deposit the other glove at my feet. I put that one on, too.
After having two boys, it's fun to see how different girls are from boys. When Kathleen and Sophia were babies, I had nothing to compare them to (although Sophia's first word was 'shoe') and so the differences weren't so striking. Joseph liked shoes, but only to chew on them. Edwin liked dolls, but only the way that their plastic heads could be smooshed in. Neither cared for (or care for) clothes at all. Nudity is the way to go.
Anyone who says that gender differences are learned has obviously never had children. Boys and girls have a lot in common. Both like to be kissed and held, neither gender cares much for punishment, and everyone enjoys a good story. But there are some pretty clear differences, too. Which I'm perfectly happy about. It's good to have one that commits a drive-by in his little red car and constructed gun and another that sews doll clothes for hours on end. If all I heard about were airplanes or horses, I'd probably go crazy. I like to have some children that are comforted with a good tickle and others that are comforted with a good cuddle.
It's good to have some of both in the world. And at home, too.