Tag Archives: are girls different from boys

Three-year-old miss driving me crazy

WHEN you have four children, people might assume that you have the solution to all parenting issues. Maybe more so when you parade yourself each week in the pages of a newspaper as someone who writes about parenting issues.

The stark fact is that as a parent, you never really have solution to problems that your kids throw at you.

Children go through phases as they grow. Sometimes difficult, drawn-out ones that drive you to distraction, and often completely different from any sibling who may have arrived on the planet earlier.

You might know a few tricks from experience which help, but ultimately, there’s no magic wand; no fairy godmother. (Although our kids do have someone they call their “Fairy Godmother,” who lives abroad and visits with armfuls of exotic presents, massive hugs and doting attention).

Bonnie goes her own way

Bonnie is three-years-old. She’s the only girl, and the fourth child.

And at the moment, she’s driving me up the wall. Forget the ‘Terrible Twos’, it should be the ‘terrible twos-and-threes-and-possibly-even-fours.’

Most of the time, she’s funny, bright and adorable to be around.

Sometimes, she can be a naughty little madam.

And it’s true that all the boys had their phases. Tantrums, rudeness, fighting, back-chat and disobedience, yes, been there, seen that.

Bonnie seems to be totally immune to my methods. The boys were usually aware when they’d crossed the line. For Bonnie, half the fun seems to be in jumping over it. For Bonnie, it seems the words “No,” and “Don’t” are heard instead as “Go ahead, of course you can.”

The books will tell you that you shouldn’t use negative words around kids, but that’s no good when they’re balancing on top of a stool on top of a beanbag to try to climb up a bookcase, or have worked out how to remove screw-top lids on everything from sauce bottles to shampoo. When they constantly try to wriggle out of your grasp when crossing roads, or run off in shopping centres, it’s not just exhausting, it’s dangerous.

Perhaps it’s not the kids. Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I’ve just forgotten how nerve-shredding, ear-splitting, panic-inducing, repetitive and knackering having pre-schoolers can be.

One thing I do know, from experience, is that the best thing is to grin and bear it until she grows out of it . . . and/or the next issue comes along to distract everyone.

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Do girls have more imagination than boys?

IT’S Bonnie’s third birthday this week. I know, time does pass scarily quickly.

And in the run-up, she seems to have gone completely bonkers. As well as ramping up her tantrum level to 11, she’s taken on several personas. She’s a hairdresser, a chef, a doctor and Tinkerbell the fairy, whenever the mood takes her.

Bonnie’s use of imaginative play is endless. And for us, it’s all new. The boys just didn’t do it. They’d never have thought to bring you a pretend cup of tea in a tiny plastic cup, or order you to present your ear to have pretend thermometer rammed in to check your temperature.

Yes, they did have a dressing-up box, but usually as an excuse to batter each other with toy swords, rather than actually imagine themselves as an alternate character.

The boys each had a favourite soft toy (Sick Monkey, Hippo and Rescue Bear), but rather than being part of their general play, they were only remembered if they were ill or we were going on holiday.

Bonnie has several soft toys who have to be positioned next to her at bedtime and individually kissed goodnight. Pom the ragdoll, the bears Fluffy and One-Eye, Lisa Simpson, Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig cluster around her head while ‘Arfur’ Rabbit is her permanent side-kick.

Arfur gets brought to the breakfast table and is allowed to watch TV, while the other toys are left in bed.

I’m not sure if it’s a girly thing or a fourth-childy thing, but it’s fascinating for us as parents because we thought we’d seen it all.

Her favourite phrases at the moment seem to be: “Aww, isn’t that cute?” (something we certainly don’t say) and “You’re my best friend.” This latter one is a little disconcerting for our 20-something babysitter, Dougie’s 11-year-old-friend who sometimes gets a lift to school, and the postman, all of whom have had Bonnie swear her allegiance.

We’ve asked a few of her ‘best-friends’ from nursery over for her first non-family-only party, and she’s madly over-excited. Her brothers are already arguing about who will be responsible for the CD player during musical bumps. I think I may leave them to run the show. It’s going to be chaos anyway. Maybe I should have made it a fancy dress party?

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Boys Vs Girls: Nature Vs Nurture: Stereotype City

WATCHED the documentary Four Sons Vs Four Daughters after being poked about it by various friends.

This followed a weekend where the parents of, er, four sons swapped lives with. . .well, you get the picture.

Both families were reasonably well-off, and had lovely kids: very stereotypical sporty boys and ballet-dancing, girly girls.

The only really interesting outcome was seeing the ‘background parent’ (the mum of the boys and the dad of the girls) realising how left-out they had become.

This was nothing to do with the kids. It was entirely to do with the Dad of the Boys being sporty and the Mum of the Girls being girly. If the genders had been more mixed, I’m not sure the families would have been any different; it was clear the Boy Dad and the Girl Mum were the dominant forces in their homes regardless.

People often seem to assume that having gender-biased offspring means you are different compared to those with a mixture of boys and girls.

And that if you, like us, end up with a girl after lots of boys, or a son after lots of daughters, you must have felt somehow lacking beforehand. It doesn’t feel that way to me.

I had a lump in my throat when the program showed how the parents felt when their children were born. It simply didn’t matter that they had girl after girl or boy after boy. And honestly, it was the same for us. In fact, it was more of a shock when Bonnie wasn’t a boy.

Our boys aren’t always wrestling or shooting toy guns, although they do always want to spend any spare moment kicking a ball around.

While we do spend a large amount of our time ferrying them to football, rugby or cricket, they do also help out with the cooking – often without being asked or cajoled. Some of them do drama. Some of them sometimes like drawing and dancing.

No pink in sight

She may only be two, but so far, Bonnie is no different. I If there’s a ball being kicked about, she wants to join in. If there’s tickling, play-fighting or playdough monster-making going on, she’s elbowing her way into the action.

But she also likes pushing dolls around in a pram. She’ll run to get the dustpan and brush if anything gets spilled. She has demanded that her tiny toenails get painted with varnish like Mummy’s so she can “have lady toes.” She can make a sulk last hours.

Is that because she’ girly or just because she’s joining in with her surroundings? Am I indulging her in a way I wouldn’t have with the boys?

It’s inevitable that our children will be influenced by what’s closest to home. I’ve never been very girly, but then I had no sisters, two brothers, and was brought up in a boys boarding school. Might I have been less sporty and more interested in shopping (ugh!) and make-up (boring) if my brothers been sisters and the school had been for girls? I’m not sure. . .

Bonnie is showing tom-boy tendencies – getting filthy at the allotment, insisting on wearing her brother’s ‘soldier’ coat, refusing to have her hair brushed and trying to pick up insects – but I’m sure there are plenty of girls without male siblings who are just the same.

She’s also recently become obsessed with those crappy plastic Disney shoes that little girls clip-clop around in. She’s actually tried to steal them from other children. Still, she walks better in heels than I do.

Our kids will develop their own likes and dislikes, influenced by their families and their friends. (Hopefully not too much by television and the media, where aspirations seem limited to being either footballers or their wives).

It’s up to us as parents to allow them to try as broad a range of experiences as we can, and get away from gender stereotypes altogether.

Meanwhile, part of me is quite enjoying having my make-up ‘applied’ by my grinning daughter.

I hope her technique improves though, I need all the help I can get.

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