As the mother of two girls, I'd always cringe when people who didn't even know my children would talk about drama and difficulty associated with raising girls. It's so stereotypical and generalized. It wasn't reflective of me as a girl or a woman, and it annoyed me that they were painting my daughters into the corner that was so critical and unrelated to my experience. And yet. In the case of my daughters, it actually seems to have some merit.
But still I prickle at all the generalizing, because it oversimplifies them. They, like most people, I guess, are wonderfully complex. They both love learning all they can about animals and the Bible (though it annoys them that so few girls are featured prominently in it), they love getting lost in music and books and imaginative play in the worlds of their own creation. Recently they've begun "exploring" in which they comb parts of a field or park, away from the playground equipment, for "evidence of aliens." Their daddy is hard at work on a spectacular clubhouse situated a bit too high for my liking and outside our bedroom window. They are already conspiring about the adventures they will have there in the nonsensically named "Double M and Em club" (Double stands for Deacon, they say, M for Mirabella and Em for Emerie). My heart smiles as I picture years of secret meetings in that house.
So when I say the comments from strangers and friends and family alike about how different a boy would be-- simply because he is a boy-- irritated me, I guess it's because it all sounded like more of the same. I found myself defending his right to be whoever he wanted to be before he even got here. There were newborn sleepers with football and "all star" references on them. Comments about how everything had to be gotten rid of and replaced because so much of it was pink; as if drinking from a pink sippy cup would scar him for life. "Get ready," they'd say, "you don't know what's coming." I scoffed at all of it. I still do.
But for as rough and wild as he is, he is every bit as affectionate. He sleeps with a teddy bear in a choke hold that he calls his "baby." He throws his body at me in a bear hug, in the middle of his play time, just because. At any moment, if there is music, he might hold up his arms and say, "Mama! Dance!" He wraps his chubby self around me when it's time to sleep, one arm wound around my neck with his face turned in toward mine and demands that I "sing."
"Sunshine?" I ask.
"No, no," he replies, "inkle inkle." If I take too long getting started, he pulls back and holds his big puppy paws in the air, opening and closing them and bobbing his head while repeating, "inkle inkle."
He settles his head back down on my chest as I begin to sing, "Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are."
I lament the lightning speed with which they are growing, even as I can hardly wait to see who they will become.