Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Baby Nuthouse: nature, nurture, or not sure

It’s an intriguing topic, the differences between boys and girls. How much is societal and how much is inherent? What is the proportional influence of nature vs. nurture?

After having three children, each with their own distinct personalities, I hesitate to generalize about the ways in which boys and girls are different.

But I will say this:

Right now my 3-year-old son is pushing trains around a track, making enthusiastic sound effects.

My 5-year-old son is making a toy airplane crash into various objects, and he just said to me, “Hey Mom, it’s World War II and the Nazis are attacking their enemies!”

Meanwhile, my one-year-old daughter is sitting on the kitchen floor, pulling wipes out of the container and cleaning her baby dolls.

This was not orchestrated. My children mostly choose their own activities, with little input from me. We have a wide selection of toys, free access for all.

Take the dolls for instance.

During my second pregnancy, my son received a baby doll from each of his grandmas. He showed only minimal interest, even after the real baby came. The dolls hung around, still shiny and clean, occasionally finding a role to play. They wore helmets and drove race cars. Once they got into a fistfight. Mostly, they just sat around, waiting.

Finally, the moment they were waiting for arrived. We brought home a little girl. Now those same dolls, along with quite a few more recent additions, get so much attention that they are worn and filthy, and my daughter never, ever goes to sleep without at least one of them in her crib.

They are dressed and undressed, wearing the tiniest hats, socks, and t-shirts I can find. They have been dragged through the dirt, scrubbed with soapy washcloths, taken along on car trips, left behind at hotels and sent home via the U. S. Postal Service. They go for rides in shopping carts, strollers, and tote bags.

The boys do not pay any attention to the dolls, unless they are looking for a way to aggravate their sister.

When it comes to skills acquisition, I plan to have an equal opportunity household. I want to make sure my daughter learns how to mow the yard and throw a baseball. We’ll teach the boys to wash a tub of clothes and prepare their own food.

But as for the innate behaviors driving their play, we seem to be heading in a pretty stereotypical direction.

To be honest I’m kind of looking forward to the tea parties.

1 comment:

kersten campbell said...

So true in my house too...except I do have a boy who plays with Polly Pockets. Love the tan update!