Vive la Difference

November 6, 2013

Almost every man who wants children wants a boy first. They won’t all admit it before the fact, and the ones who end up with girls first generally don’t get ticked off about it.

Still, men want “mini-mes” that we can train to do all the manly things we like doing, to carry on our family name, and to be the protector of any further progeny.

Naturally, when my first-born was a boy I thought that was just terrific. When my second was also a boy, well that was just peachy keen too.

When Kathryn came around, I was ready to start adding girls to the mix. The two rambunctious boys satisfied all of the manly DisneyPrincessclichés in the deepest chauvinistic depths of my heart and I thought I could handle a different experience.

It’s a good thing I thought that way, too, because it is very different.

Boys, to me, are easy. It’s like I have some inside knowledge about them or something. Dinosaurs, Batman and Spider-Man, cars and wrestling – these things will get you all the way to adolescence with no more help. Bored? Great, let’s wrestle! Tired? Awesome, here are your Batman pajamas. Sad? Let’s crash these two pull-back racers! See how simple that is?

Kathryn has been decidedly more… complicated. It’s not just that she likes different toys than the boys (tea sets, dolls, her talking purse to name a few) she also is far more into things that aren’t toys at all.

For example, Seamus and Duncan treat brushing their hair as something that Nurse Ratched would do to them – for Kathryn, it is a necessary and wonderful ritual.

If Seamus or Duncan were to play with Kathryn’s dolls, their ideas would run towards using them as catapult ammo, or having them fight each other (to the death, assuredly). Kathryn likes to give them hugs, lay them in her little stroller and take them for a walk.

Kathryn is the only one of the three who is bothered by getting dirty. Let me re-phrase – Kathryn is the only one who doesn’t delight in getting dirty. The boys see a mud puddle as welcome decoration; Kathryn sees it as a manifestation of Satan on Earth. All contact calls for immediate cleansing and holy rites.

All three of my kids like animals. The boys like to play with and pet the dogs and cats and, when allowed, get rides on grandmothers’ horses. Kathryn loves the animals too – in a more abstract sense. She likes to talk about them. She likes to imitate their sounds. She likes to look at them – from a distance! Get her closer than 10 feet from the horses and she panics. It’s closer to three feet for the dogs.

Really, I couldn’t begin to catalogue all the ways that my little girl contrasts from my boys and that’s just fine with me. They’re supposed to be different – and it has been fun so far to see just how.


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