I have been reading books about raising boys and girls and how they are different (well, duh!) and how the media and advertising greatly affects our kids and they way they think, grow and develop.
Well, I must say that I pretty much must have the most non-conformist children there are. (With the exception of Elizabeth and her desire to flatten her hair and plaster it to her head in a style that closely resembles a helmet). Perhaps this is because we chose not to participate in watching TV or getting involved much with media and outside influences, or perhaps it is because at a young age when I take the kids to a store like Target we take time to deliberately look at the marketing schemes they use and debunk the myths that they portray. Maybe that's it. Or maybe it's true that media shows our kids junk but that our kids are not quite as dumb as the marketers think and really DON'T fall for it all!
But my Elizabeth is 13 and she is not a shopping/sex/beauty/boy crazed child. She is into sports. She loves to watch professional soccer with her dad and will do so for hours on end if she is allowed. If you asked her what she would most like to do on an evening, you would probably get one of a few answers: 1. Play soccer with Dad. 2. Build a fire outside. 3. Go to the library.
Yes, she loves to read. Uh-oh, you say. That is a traditional 'girl' thing to do! But, as much as she likes to read, she loves math and science. She can figure problems with multiple steps in her head with ease. (For example, when we go out to eat, we usually go somewhere that we have a coupon for. But, I believe that you should leave tip based on the amount BEFORE the coupon. So, it is Elizabeth's job to see our total, add the coupon, figure tip on that amount, and then add the tip to the original amount after the coupon and tell me the total. Confused yet? Yeah, that why she does it and not me. I used to do it, too, to check her math. I don't so much anymore. I just sit there looking like I'm thinking about it while really trying to figure out what Gabriel just shoved up his nose. Don't tell Liz that, though!)
Now Jo, on the other hand, who's 3.5 years old, is a little more 'girly' if you will. But she still loves to play outside in the dirt and routinely comes home with her shoes filled with sand. I mean filled. It is a wonder they have any sand left in the sandbox! Even though she is a little afraid of some bugs and worms, she still has a curiosity about them and once it is proven that they are not harmful she will sometimes get involved. (I think that this has to do with my mother-in-law, though. She squishes everything she sees. She stepped on a mouse once. In sandals. Yeah, I know. Gross. But I think that by watching her, Jo has picked up on some bug hating.) But where girls are 'supposed' to be all advanced in speech, Jo took FOREVER to talk! And let me tell you, she can knarf some food! Don't put a plate of macaroni and cheese or peas anywhere close to that girl or it will be gone! Oh, and that's another thing. All 3 of the kids love their veggies. It is annoying to me to see commercials (in the rare instance that we watch TV) that show kids turning their noses up at veggies so that they can eat Frosted Flakes or whatever. Anyway, I am excited to see how Jo will continue to develop and see if even though she is exposed to the same things as Elizabeth was, if she will turn out much more 'girly' than her older sis.
Then there is Gabriel. I thought that boys were supposed to be slower in language. Well, he's blowing THAT out of the water! He is only 13 months old and he talks so much! Here is a sampling of his vocabulary (and he uses all the words appropriately):
avion! = airplane (Spanish)
Buelo = what the kids call my father-in-law (Spanish)
Izzie = what the little dudes call Elizabeth
owie! = used when he falls down
pan = bread (Spanish)
agua = water (Spanish)
Every morning when he hears the front door open and close signaling that Elizabeth has left to catch the bus to go to school, he hollers out the window 'BYE IZZIE!' at the top of his lungs. I didn't think that toddler this young, especially not boys were 'supposed' to have that many words! I guess nobody told Gabe that.
Anyway, I just got to thinking about these things as I was reading the books. They are good books, and they do make some very valid points, but I think that in the end, it really comes down to parenting and the child's personality, one of which can be controlled and the other not so much. Not that I have all the answers, and there are definitely things that the kids should stay away from, but that's what parents are for, anyway. To help their kids make good decisions until they learn from example how to do it on their own!