Boys and Girls

Yesterday I babysat a friend's little girl. She's 4, and she and Jacob are friends at church. She came to Jacob's Superhero Party dressed as Violet (her mother MADE her a great costume, complete with boots), and Jacob has referred to her as "The Girl Who Came To My Party Dressed Up Like Violet" ever since. Since she was so enthusiastic about the party, he automatically assumes she likes the same things he does. He's wrong. During lunchtime, he kept getting in her face and saying things like, "Let's play lightsabers!" Friend: "No, I don't want to." Jacob: "Let's play 'Fight'!" Friend: "No, Jacob, I don't want to fight." Jacob: "Want to see my city of trains and blocks? Let's go!" Friend: "No, I just want to sit here and eat my watermelon." Jacob was frustrated at her lack of enthusiasm for his violent intentions, and showed it by pretending to shoot at her with his "lightsaber" (a stick that he found in the woods that he insists is a lightsaber). She was not amused, and informed him more emphatically that she didn't want to play, that she just wanted to eat her watermelon! They finally settled on a rousing came of hide-n-seek. Later, we went to the pool, and I sat them down at a table, told them to sit still while I went and checked on something. When I got back, minutes later, the girl was sitting dutifully on the bench. Jacob was literally (I am not making this up) climbing the flagpole next to the bench. When he saw me, he let go and jumped down about 5 feet. He came up grinning. Those are just 2 examples of how the rest of our day went. The contrast between these two kids was just startling, and they're not that far apart in age. Is it a gender gap? Are all boys more violent and aggressive than girls, or is my kid just crazy? We'll be watching this little girl again, I'm sure. Maybe I'll tell her to being her lightsaber next time, just so she can defend herself against the beast!


Anonymous Sue M said...

My only son is still an infant, so I can't weigh in on the gender issue. I believe part of this is just personality. The little girl you describe sounds just like my 3 year old DD, but my 2 year old DD sounds a lot like Jacob. She's a ruffian.

7/01/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Kitti said...

I agree with Sue M, I think it is a personality thing. My daughter, 4y.o., loves the rough and tumble (something her boy-friends love) but then she also likes to play mommies and babies (something the boy-friends DO NOT love.)

She does have one little boy-friend that is definitely more physical than she is and loves to break things but I don't know if that's because he's a boy or if he's just like that.

7/01/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

I vote for 'personality thing' because I have a 7yo boy who has acted like a rational human being from day one and a 4yo boy who has acted like a Warrior Knight Samuria Battle Guy since day one.

7/01/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Nate Oman said...

I suspect that it is a boy thing, but that the thing we are talking about is a different distribution in the population rather than some necessary connection. In other words, the fact that we can point to violent girls and peaceful boys doesn't really answer the question. We get an answer to the question by looking at a large number of boys and girls and then asking about the distribution of peace and violence.

7/01/2005 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

I did a research project in college on sex differences and aggression. Guess what? Turns out boys are more aggressive than girls. Anyone shocked?

But girls tended to have a different kind of aggreesion -- slyer, more manipulative, more two-faced, if you will. Boys tended to just slug it out.

The differences began early, and evidenced throughout life. But this is just aggression I'm talking about here.

Warrior Knight Samuria Battle Guy is my new favorite phrase.

7/02/2005 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger fMhLisa said...

I think it's both. And more too. Personality. Gender. And I think it's also socialization to some degree.

I do think kids come wired with a personality. I do think that boys tend to be more violent. I do think that we encourage and allow our boys to be more violent.

And I think each of those elements are going to work to different degress in any person and situation.

7/02/2005 01:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

He must be crazy if he thinks lightsabers can shoot anything.

I was determined to not let my kids play with violent toys like toy guns or weapons. Was going fine until my youngest son was born. He'd turn anything into a weapon. A straw? A gun. A stick? A gun. Then his grandpa bought him a cowboy set and it was all over.

There are definitely differences between the genders, but a lot of it is just personality/temperament. Temperament is something people are born with and does not change over time (if I remember my early childhood education classes correctly).

7/02/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

My daughter's the wild one, the one that can't keep still, keep her hands to herself, keep from getting into things, etc.
My boy is the one who is peaceful, has never hit another child ever, won't even take his toy back when his little sister steals it, who is on slow motion speed and can quietly lie on the floor and just think.
But......he saw Star Wars (the original) two weeks ago. After watching it 2 times he understood the plot better, could describe all the spaceships and whose they were, could even tell me what color lasers shot out of each type of ship. My daughter didn't even sit down to watch the show.
Right now I am taking pictures of each of his creations. He makes amazing original spaceships, planes, boats, rockets and robots out of legos and tinker toys. So I've started taking pictures. His creations are truly amazing.
There are typical boy things and typical girl things. The chances of you kid being 100% typical gender is pretty small. But while the aggressive thing is opposite in my family, my kids definitely each have some typical gender behavior.....and some non-typical too.
I'd say 75% typical. Neither of them seem uncomfortable with their gender identity. But they are of course individuals so they aren't stereotypes.

7/02/2005 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

My older daughter could beat up any boy in our neighborhood (still can), but my youngest loves her dolls and was feminine from day one.

It's interesting to watch the kids in the nursery. There are some boys who have their favorite dolls. We let them love the babies and help them wrap them in blankies.

One little darling comes in all dressed up and cute and by the time her mom comes, her shoes are off, her bows are lost and she's made a mess with the water. She has a thing about playing with the water and crackers and we just let her.

7/04/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Rosalynde said...

I think you're dealing with a couple of different things here, Heather. I'd guess that the violent role-playing games is a gender thing, though whether by biology or socialization I'm sure I don't know.

But general disobedience and the tendency for highly physical play (apart from pretend violence) is spread evenly across the genders.

7/04/2005 05:07:00 PM  

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