Monday, May 16, 2011

Nature Made

Boys and girls are different.

I know, I know. You are shocked. It seems so obvious I wouldn't bother saying it, but, in academic circles, letting those words escape one's lips is the supreme act of heresy. (Suggesting that innate differences between the sexes might explain some of the gender gap in scientific fields is how the President of Harvard University became the Former President of Harvard University, if you'll recall).

But seriously, do any of the people who think men and women differ only in genitalia have children of their own? I'm pretty sure they don't. Especially not boy/girl twins.

I could be running my own experiment in gender socialization vs. inborn tendencies. I haven't nudged either baby toward any particular toy, and all the playthings in our house are pretty gender neutral. Matthew and Leah have their own blankets and teddy bears, but the rest of the toys are a free-for-all collection of blocks, balls, musical instruments and stacking cups.

Hand Leah a teddy bear and she hugs it. Hand one to Matthew and he throws it. After considerable blankie-as-comfort-object conditioning ("Dear Matthew, you must attach yourself to something other than your mother..."), I've finally succeeded in attaching Matthew to his fuzzy blue friend. Leah, on the other hand, had a molecular bond with her blanket almost instantaneously. She drags it around the house all day along with her usual armful of stuffed animals, shoes, and other clothing items.

Yes, my daughter loves clothes. Actually, loves is probably too mild a word. She adores them. She squeals with delight when you put on her shoes and flaps her arms with excitement when you put on her jacket. She brings Matthew clothes and drops them in his lap, I suppose because she figures everyone should like them as much as she does.

She also likes jewelry. Put a necklace on Matthew and he will try to do one of two things: 1) Take it off or 2) Break it. Leah, on the other hand, walks around the house wearing an armful of cookie cutters as makeshift bracelets. Anything that could possibly be construed as jewelry goes around her neck or her wrist. Earphones, string, toilet paper... all acceptable items with which to accessorize.

Matthew's motto seems to be throw it, break it, or hit with it. (His older brother subscribes to the same motto, with the addition of "When you're done breaking it, lie about it.") Matthew's got a pretty good arm for a one-year-old and can launch a ball hard enough to leave a bruise right between your eyes. He loves to run cars over the floor and takes off with his walker like he's aiming to win the land-speed record.

Leah babbles and holds toys up to her ear to chat. Matthew tries to figure out how things work. Leah cradles and hugs and soothes. Matthew is obsessed with the TV remote and my iphone, and cackles like a maniac when he gets ahold of either one. After he's done experimenting, he throws them. Then he pushes them around the floor like cars.This is why the question, "Why is there a blender under the desk?" belongs in our house as comfortably as "What's for dinner?" and "Do I have to brush my teeth?" The blender was used as a car, obviously.

It seems the only thing they have in common is an equal penchant for mischief, as you can see above.

I can't wait to see what the next few years will bring.


Stephanie Black said...

This is absolutely fascinating.

It's crazy to try to insist that men and women are exactly the same. It's just not true, no matter how hard academia tries to make it so. And differences are wonderful!

Cath said...

Ah, the cereal fiasco. And I see those silky "mamies" (blankets) in the periphery. You really have an insider view on the boy/girl comparison. Great post! xo

fiona said...

Soo, so true. It has really been an interesting study the past 4 years at our house, too. Here, though, it was Bran who attached to his blankie nice and early, while N didn't ever really attach to anything. He still drags that sucker around when he's tired. But yeah, b/g twins really highlight many gender differences well. It's been fascinating lately seeing how quickly Nuala picks up reading/writing and WANTS to, while Bran is working on the same things, but is less interested and less skilled right now in those areas. Normal boy/girl development, but kinda cool to watch it play out in twins. And the behavioural differences... oh, yeah. Nuala can be so moody and sensitive and just GIRLY. Drama. Bran is not. Thankfully ;) Anyway...

Loved the post. Look at those little rascals! And Leah's accessorizing sounds so cute! Ah, to always be satisfied with toilet paper jewelry. Yeah, wish we could get all these munchkins together! One of these days...