Before I had children I thought that boy and girl behavior was mostly due to the way they were raised with all the cultural expectations and stereotypes placed upon them.
After I had children, FIVE boy children in a row, I started to suspect that certain things were just inborn. The way that they reacted to things was just different. The way they chose to interact with each other was just different. Not better or worse, just different than all the little girls my friends had.
Then, three years ago, I had a girl. A girl of my very own. A girl who is the walking cliche of all that is girly and pink. My daughter talks constantly about her day, nararating every last thing that she is doing. Telling me what she wants to buy at the store, what she bought there last week, and the directions to get there. My boys have never once suggested that they need more shoes or a shiny new coat. Sports equipment, yes, but even that they prefer to purchase online.
This week at the beach my 3-year-old daughter made a friend. One of the first things she does is scope out a friend to play with wherever we go. The girls were relatively quiet, meaning their conversations weren't being broadcast across the water front, like those of all the boys that were there, not just mine. The girls held elaborate conversations which involved talking a great deal, sharing their feelings, sharing the names of their long lost pets, dolls, toys. Did I mention the non-stop talking?
I swear they got more personal information out of each other in a few hours than my boys have shared with anyone in a life time. It struck me that it is so stereotypical of male and female relationships.
My husband has a best friend from childhood that he talks to several times a week, yet I am never sure what exactly it is that they talk about, since every question I ask him when I get off the phone is met with a confused look.
Several years ago his friend called to tell us he had just asked his girlfriend to marry him. Rob got off the phone and shared the information with me.
"Oh, where did he propose?" I asked.
"I don't know"
"How did he do it?" I asked.
"I don't know." was the answer.
"Was it a huge surprise? Did he pick out a ring by himself?" I asked.
"I don't know." he answered yet again.
"Do you know anything?" I asked exasperated.
"I know she said yes. And really isn't that the important part?" he answered, equally exasperated by me.
I guess it was. But I wanted to know more details. I wanted to discuss every excruciatingly minute detail, like I would do with a girl friend. But he and his friend view talking as purely a way to share information, as succinctly as possible.
Which brings me back to the beach, I don't think I have ever heard one of my sons say to another boy they just met at the beach. "Let's go lay down on our beach blankets and talk!"
Chris is a writer, artist, and mother of six boys and one girl. She lives in an historic old house in New England that is constantly under renovation, and just might be the death of her.