Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.
- Proverbs 22:6 (ASV)
- Proverbs 22:6 (ASV)
I will start with a word of warning. I have written this post before. See? But since then, things have changed a bit on my side so I feel the need to write it again. I have also been feeling like this has been something that God has been working on in me lately, mostly because it keeps coming up. And it keeps making me angrier then I feel it should, which makes me want to look deeper into why and do the work on my part to make sure my own attitude is where it should be.
It started about a month ago. I was having a casual conversation with someone I barely know. Honestly I don't even know her first name. All I know is that she has all boys. I think 2 - right about the same age as my girls. The conversation went something like this:
Her: Good morning.
Me: Good morning!
Her: *Something about how cute my kids are* (they were with me)
Me: Thank you! How are your boys doing? (they were not with her)
Her: Good! Crazy as usual - but that's how boys are after all.
Me: Yup, kids can be crazy. They keep us on our toes.
Her: Yes, But boys are the craziest! So full of energy. Girls are less work I think (glancing at my kids waiting patiently for me). I have heard boys are harder when they are small, and girls are harder when they are older, like teenagers you know?
Ok, I will stop right there. And please, moms of boys I mean no dis-respect, and maybe I am just being overly sensitive (typical girl?). But do you realize a comment like that basically says "I work harder then you" as a mom? It is no different then asking a stay at home mom "what do you do all day anyways?" It is naive and makes you appear ignorant. As I was talking to her, my big girls were standing respectfully by my side waiting for me to complete the errand I was there to do. So perhaps this comment came from the fact that she didn't believe her kids would have done the same. Perhaps it came from a place of insecurity about her own ability to control her children (i.e. boys will be boys, so rambunctious behavior gets excused. The flip-side being/Girls are sensitive so why bother teaching them to control their emotions). And perhaps I am wrong, perhaps she really did believe that, or was making casual conversation out of what she may have conceived to be an awkward silence?
In response I think I laughed, said something along the lines of "wow, if it is just going to get harder from here I will need to find a way to get more sleep because I am maxed out as it is." or something as equally un-clever, excused myself and left. Marking her forever in my head as naive and ignorant, which was probably un-fair, but the best I could do in the moment.
I think the thing I hate the most about comments like that is the need I feel welling up inside me to prove them wrong. To get defensive. To shout "I work hard too!" Or spout some example of my kids getting dirty, playing with bugs, getting excited about rockets or superhero's or making a train out of the kitchen chairs for the 4th time this week. But then I don't want to stoop so low, after all. If I were to say "I have heard boys are harder then girls at this age, you must be exhausted!" she would have seen it as a true mark of motherhood, so why does she not see the opposite as an insult? I know for a fact she would not feel the need to get defensive about her boys if I were to mention my sensitive, delicate girls that wilt at the first sign of sun-exposure and have tea parties all day - stating defensively: "oh my boys just had a tea party together last week! And then they cleaned all the dishes together and worked so hard as a team, I was so proud!" Yet a comment like that from a mom of girls most would not think twice about. And I bet boys would love a tea party and a chance to play in soapy water afterward! I know lots of boys that have done it, and loved it. But on the other hand,I also hate feeling defensive because I don't want to short-change my girls. I LIKE the fact that I have three girls. And I love it when we get to do girly things together, especially since I am really not girly, so it feels like they are getting to teach me something or they want to be just like me ("mama, I like pirates just like you. Do you like it that I like pirates just like you?")
About a week later I had another conversation with another mom of all boys - again I do not even know her first name. We were waiting in line together for something. I had one of my big girls with me. She had none of her boys.
Her: She has such pretty hair!
Me: Thank you.
Her: I have only boys so we just get buzz cuts
Me: Yeah, I wouldn't know about those since I have three girls! (we didn't know one another well)
Her: Sometimes I wish! Girls are so calm and polite you know? Boys just run around all over the place. I was with a girlfriend of mine the other day, and she has a girl, and she just sat there, so calm the whole time!
I mumbled something about girls giving me their fair share of running around....but luckily for me she had moved on. Again with the defensive! Drives me insane. Is it that I feel the need to educate them or is it the need to prove that I have worked my ass off as a mom of three to have kids that are respectful and obey?
I am pretty sure in this lady's case she is simply ignorant. I say this because the only thing she could come up with was "I have a friend that has a girl-kid." (I do know this lady's son a little. He is out of control. He would NOT sit calmly the whole time. And I highly doubt it is because he is a boy.) So simply for the sake of education I am going to make my case. And please, if you do not agree that is ok. You are welcome to make a case yourself, but no bashing please. We are all learning here, and I am always open to different ideas and opinions.
In my own humble opinion, here is the difference between boys and girls.
Boys are designed biologically and Biblically to toil. To protect, to work the ground and to hunt for food. Because of this they need a certain skill set that basically involves muscles, (and so they are driven to develop these) as well as the knowledge of weapons and how to use them. The ability to protect those that they love deeply and the intellectual knowledge of where to find food and how to bring it home. Boys are designed to want to be like their fathers.
Now, I may only have three girls myself as a mom (and I know that there is a certain amount of ignorance on my part because of this - but hear me out). However, I did help raise my little brother and I have spent much time around little boys who (gasp!) had complete control over their bodies, their voices, their attitudes and they stood respectfully next to their mother's when she asked them to and do you know why? Because when they were little, their parents brought them up in the way they should go. They were trained well.
Child behavior, regardless of male or female, is all about training. Now some kids are more challenging to train (And I will even argue that those are the ones God has the best plans for) but difficulty is not gender discriminant.
Girls are designed biologically and Biblically to toil. To birth babies, to care for them and to grow food. Without the biological need to hunt and fight we do not need the large muscles, so there is going to be less drive to develop them. However, the need to protect those we love deeply is very much there, and so is the need to gather around us the things we will need to maintain a structure of protection. Girls are designed to want to be like their mothers.
So yes, there is a good amount that is different between boys and girls. And there is some "play" that is naturally different, both because they are different biologically as well as because Disney said there should be (and so that is what their parents modeled for them, because their parents modeled it for them, etc.). But do you know what? I know lots of girls (big and small) that are out of control. They talk back, they are disrespectful. They fight, they argue, they hit, they throw things. They are complete terrors and they have no control over their bodies or their words - no control over their attitudes or voices and they would only stand next to their mothers calmly if they had been promised candy if they did so.
I may ruffle a few feathers here - but you know what, that is ok. I understand that every rule has an exception (or many) and honestly - I could use a good reminder most days that my kids will not just be good because I want them to be...and I do want to say that my kids are not always good. In fact, if we didn't work HARD on it everyday they would almost never be. But we do! And even with hard work we have bad days, bad weeks. Bad days where I have a bad attitude, bad days where my kids are regular public terrors. But we have lots of good days too and do you know why? We work so hard, I work hard, they work hard. We remind each other to watch our attitudes. We practice good manners, we use kind words and this work started EARLY. We are already starting it with Kaylee. And do you know how we are starting it with her? We are respectful of one another around her. Monkey see, Monkey do (no pun intended). I do my best to not let even one thing slide if I see behavior that is un- acceptable. I try to be as consistent as physically possible and sometimes that means Ayla is in time-out 80 times a day and all privileges have been revoked. Luckily that doesn't happen very often anymore. We got through a lot of the big battles when they were tiny - for instance, and I think I may have even written a blog about it...hold on...Ok, there are lots of posts about that sort of thing! But I am looking for a specific one:
Nope, can't find it. I think it is there somewhere, but I can't find it. It was about teaching Ayla to stay in her bed when it was rest time - it took about a month of putting her in it, and then walking out only to have her get up again, and put her back in over and over and over. About every 10 times of putting her back (or so) I would remind her "it is time to stay in your bed and sleep right now." The biggest number of times putting her back I believe was 48 times before she finally fell asleep (and that is when I was writing the post). And that was just after I started counting. And yes, this was a month of doing this, every naptime and bedtime. But you know what? After a month of hard work (on both our parts) she stayed! And now that is a battle we no longer have to fight at 4 because at 2 years old I WON. And you know what else? With God's grace, staying in her bed is not a battle we will have to fight at 16 because we learned it at 2. THAT is my goal. Everything I do as a parent now is geared towards not having to fight the big battles when they are capable of causing real harm with their disobedience. I want those lessons so ingrained in their minds by the time they hit that age that they will not depart from them.
You know what? I just figured it out. See, this is the purpose of these ramblings. You know why the mom told me that her job was harder then mine? You know why the mom told me that girls were easier? Both of them, they feel sorry for me. Because they love their families of all boys so much and they feel so very sorry for me that I don't get to experience the joy of being mom to a boy. And you know what? That makes me feel 100% better. You see, they are right. I am missing out on something. But you know what else? I have so much joy, so much. And they are missing out on something too. I get defensive because in a sort of way I am jealous, but I want to prove to myself that I am not which is why I get defensive. Because honestly, I am not jealous even in the least! I LOVE how things have turned out. And I know this is exactly how it is supposed to be. And in a sort of way, they are jealous too. So from the beginning they are on the defensive too, and who knows - maybe it is harder from the other side and I just can't see it. But I too, feel so very sorry for them. And that is ok. Because they are really not jealous even in the least, and they LOVE how things have turned out and they know this is exactly how things are supposed to be. And that is perfect.
After all - I know the truth, Peter Pan says it. And he is a boy that can be borrowed by all mothers:
"One girl is more use than twenty boys." ~ Peter Pan
Of course Peter is also the only one who could get the kiss...