Let me just start off by saying, “Yes! There are differences between boys and girls. Differences that go beyond the anatomical. I know this with every fiber of my being, and I get it. However . . .”
Okay, so we’re all clear on where I stand with the whole boy/girl thing, right? Boys and girls are different. For instance, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are few creatures on the earth consistently stupider than a five-year-old boy. Oh, yes, I did just say that. And 12-going-on-13-year-old girls? Should probably kept kept in isolation for the betterment of society and for their own protection until such time as they are 14-going-on-15-year-old girls.*
However, just because there are differences doesn’t mean we should hand them to our children on a silver platter as an excuse to be a boil on the butt of humanity.
So today in church, as I was doing singing time with the senior primary children (ages 8-11) I was explaining, for the benefit of the many children who weren’t there last week when I initially explained it, that we are going to be doing a Singing Super Stars program. This is something that I’ve come up with to help motivate the kids to both pay attention when I am teaching them songs and actually sing the songs. Basically, by participating in signing time, they will be able to earn tickets (like carnival tickets) and they can save those tickets to get prizes (bouncy balls, stuffed stars, stickers, inflatable toy microphones, and the ever popular Silly Bands). Additionally, once a month, we will have a Last Singer Standing contest and the winner will get his/her name on a Walk of Fame type sticker/star which I am mounting on poster board and laminating so that I can wipe off the name at the end of the month and put the new winner’s name on.
After explaining all of this, one of the boys said, “Are you going to have two Walk of Fame stars? One for the boys and one for the girls?”
“No,” I said. “I am going to have two walk of fame stars, but one will be for the junior primary and one will be for the senior primary.”
“Well that’s not fair!” he grumped, “Because girls are more naturally able to behave better, so they’ll always know the songs better and none of the boys will ever win.”
I wanted to offer to turn him into a girl right then and there. Instead I told him that was crap (thought I said it much more nicely than that) and explained that it is his choice if he wants to learn the songs and sing them or not. I told him he could absolutely win the contest, but he would have to choose to behave and pay attention and learn.
He went on to mumble something about not even bothering to try because he was a boy so, obviously, he wouldn’t be able to win anyway.
What the hell heck?
What are we teaching our boys? I really thought the whole “boys will be boys” attitude was passé. There is something wrong when society (or just individual families here and there) is teaching our girls that they need to be little “kick-ass, non-princesses” who can do anything and everything, while teaching our boys that they are such incompetent boobs they can’t even be responsible for their own behavior.
Again, I fully agree that there are, in a general sense, some relatively standard behavioral differences between boys and girls; however, that doesn’t mean that we, as parents or teachers or neighbors or anybody else, should just toss up our hands and say, “Well, what are you going to do? He is a boy after all.”
Freaking do something. If your toddler/pre-schooler is climbing on somebody’s piano and doesn’t listen when you say “No, no, no,” fifty-seven times in a voice that sounds like it is dripping with a concoction of maple syrup and honey, then get off your butt and go get your kid. Do it after the first “no.” Pry his little arse off the piano so he learns that when you say “no” you mean “no,” and so he doesn’t break anything that belongs to someone else. That’s just one, off-the-top-of-my-head example.
Same goes for girls, of course.
But whatever you do, do not just shrug your shoulders and say, “Boys will be boys,” because then you will be teaching your son that he is a complete pantywaist. Even dogs can learn to behave, folks, so it makes me rather sad, and a little bit grumpy, when I encounter a child who thinks he has no chance at winning a contest because he is a boy and, therefore, can’t behave. I’m not sure what that kid’s first name is, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Fido.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says, “Woof.”
*Please do not misconstrue this to mean that I think my five-year-old and 12-going-on-13-year-old are awful. They are not awful, nor do I believe they are. Actually, I think they are rather good children who are going through challenging developmental periods. And anyway, my five-year-old son is not the only five-year-old boy I know who has led me to my conclusion about stupidity and five-year-old boys.