Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice...GRRRR

Monday, September 22, 2008
For the majority of my daughter’s life, the gender issue hasn’t really come up. She’s not into princesses yet, she doesn’t play much with dolls, and although we did buy her a little kitchen, we would have done so if she were a boy, too. She does wear a lot of pink, but it’s hard to avoid pink clothes for girls.

Lately though, I’ve begun to notice the gender difference at the playground. She will avoid areas where a group of boys are playing. A couple of weeks ago, she told my husband she couldn’t go down a particularly steep slide at the playground because “only boys do that slide” – and of course, nobody had ever said that to her. Twice in the last week, she’s been kicked or yelled at by a boy because she took too long going down the slide. Once, she wanted to go down a slide but there was a boy at the bottom. He didn’t move when he saw her, so she went to the adjoining slide where there was a little girl at the bottom. The girl, of course, moved.

I’ve seen it a bit at school, too. A boy sitting next to her at snacktime tried to take her crackers. With me there, she yelled “No, Bobby, no, don’t take my crackers!” and he went away. But she told me later that before I came, he had taken her crackers anyway.

All of this makes me pretty upset. Logically, I can think about the way I’m supposed to handle this. I’m supposed to have a long talk with her about how she’s capable of doing anything boys can do (and I did do that.) I’m supposed to teach her to fend for herself, to assert herself verbally, and to yell for an adult if the pushing, kicking, or cracker-stealing continues.

I realize any other girl could do these things to her as well, but for some reason it makes me really mad when it’s a boy. I also realize some of this is just “boys will be boys” behavior – it’s not their fault that they were born with something called testosterone. They’re just usually more rambunctious.

But in reality I want to go over to that kid, and tell him to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER. Get off the slide, can’t you see she wants to go down? Where are your manners – eat your OWN crackers! And who told you it was okay to kick someone else, you little monster?!!

At this point I’ve obviously lost it, so if you have any constructive advice for me on how to handle these situations, give it to me!
Ashwin Sodhi said...

a monster truck! and maybe a brother...

- ashwin "i-have-no-children-nor-any-idea-what-i'm-talking-about" sodhi

Anu said...

There are always going to be some kids at the park that aren't well behaved and some parents who have no clue or aren't paying enough attention to correct their kids' behavior. These sorts of situations come up in life - the playground is just another bar, subway train, or cafe where someone cuts you off in line, or makes a nasty comment. The only difference is that we as adults already learned how to handle them. Don't take it so personally or read too much into it, they're only kids and are still
learning social boundaries.

As for the gender differences, little boys are like puppies! They have very little control of their impulses (more so than girls) and even my two boys are very different from each other in their impulse control levels. Believe me when I say that any mom whose son hit, grabbed, or otherwise acted like a little caveman in public is mortally embarrassed and wants to crawl under a rock when it happens. You vocalized exactly what the cavebaby's mom feared: that she and her child have been judged wrongly for a situation that was mostly out of her control. It takes a lot of work to teach a little boy to reign that testosterone in, and they really aren't capable of doing it until they are between 3 and 4 years old.

monica said...

thanks for the voice of reason, anu. i am now going to buy her some boxing gloves...haha, just kidding.

KC said...

No, you should! Going with the puppy analogy -- the way puppies learn play manners (not crossing the line between mouthing and biting, not running into people & dogs while running) is that other dogs and puppies react when they misbehave. For a dog, the appropriate thing is to bare one's teeth and growl a little. For a kid, maybe it's to say "hey, don't do that" or "I'm coming down the slide now, you'd better move." But then she's got to follow it up by actually going down the slide, y'know?

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