Yeah. They’re Different.

Men and women, boys and girls.

I see in my kids a very interesting case study in gender identity. Laylee, the ever dainty one, who cries if a droplet of water enters a 3 inch radius around either eye and begs for a towel. Who demands a napkin at the beginning of each meal and uses it after every bite, also pointing out when I have a stray crumb of food on my face. “MOMMY! Please wipe that OFF!” How embarrassing!

Magoo is the manliest of men. He is all physical and quite acrobatic in his movements. He crawls along smoothly, going over rather than around any items in his path – be they toys, furniture, steps or fallen comrades (read this: Mom laying in a drooling face-plant in the middle of the living room floor at the end of the day).

Earlier today I was watching him charge over a small children’s couch and I told my friend, “He looks like that space thing, the module…the Mars Rover thing, just bouncing over things and adjusting and overtaking everything in his path.” He has no fear of injury.

Tonight some friends had us over for dinner and were watching him go and the husband said, “he’s like that lunar….module…thing.”

“The Mars Rover?” I piped in.

Yep. We all agree. That’s our little buddy. Sheesh! He’s crazy. In the past I’ve referred to him as a psycho-bot, but I think Mars-Rover is more appropriate.

Laylee, on the other hand, keeps getting more and more girly. In my recent book club book, we learned about the differences in the way men and women communicate with each other. While men will seek to find a solution to a problem that’s presented to them in conversation, women are more likely to identify with the speaker and try to share a similar personal experience to make the speaker feel better about herself.

I thought this was something learned over time. Not so, my friends.

I was standing in the kitchen the other day when, for no apparent reason, I inhaled my own spit and went into purple-faced convulsions. I gasped for breath and grabbed for the counter to steady myself. I thought I was dying as one does when one inhales one’s own spit for no apparent reason. I’m sure you’ve done it yourself and, if you’re a woman, you’d tell me about that experience and we’d all be comforted and feel the love.

Laylee asked, “Are you sick?”
Me: No
Laylee: Are you okay?
Me: Yes. I’m (gasp) fine. (yorkle-snorkle-gasp) I just have a (gurgle-dy-gasp) a silly cough. (balgerloojie-hack)
Laylee (very seriously): It’s okay Mommy. I had a really silly cough sometimes too.

I did not make that up. As soon as I could catch my breath, I called Dan and said “HA! It’s innate. We ALL do it.”

Boys, on the other hand, are whirling-churning-psycho-bot-Mars-rovers-of-destruction. But we like them. And instead of comforting you with stories of their own near-death experiences while you asphyxiate yourself, they may actually get you a glass of water.

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32 Responses to Yeah. They’re Different.

  1. That’s why I have a simple ground rule when it comes to kids, and the wife agrees (or, at least, nods submissively when I say this):

    Upon birth, all children will be girls. This will greatly save us in furnishing and medical bills, as you have noted.

    At midnight on the day of their 12th birthdays, all children will become boys. This saves me from having teenage daughters. All will receive footballs for their birthdays.

    Upon turning 18, they can choose. Given the relative cost of a wedding and a luncheon, I’m hoping they stay men forever, but hey, it’s their choice.

    While I have yet to work out the logistics of this, we consider it to be by far the best option possible. If there are any budding biology type people around to help us out, I’d appreciate your advice on making our dream possible.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ok, what you just wrote Not Too Pensive, is hilarious! And yet, it gets the mind working… Hmmmm, not a bad idea actually.

    One low point to the teenage boy idea, you would need to take out a second mortgage because the sudden increase in consumable consumption might well bankrupt you.

    Funny! DYM is always awesome, but what an unexpected comment, thank you

  3. Papa says:

    Or we would tell you raise you hands above your head and BREATH!

  4. JennyBee says:

    I have two boys and two girls and I was laughing at this…oh, I so relate. The boys are also born with a sound card for extra sound effects. Im sure it’s the only way they can produce these noises…..

  5. Chilihead2 says:

    Isn’t it unbelievable when those “grown up” words or phrases come out of their little mouths?

    That was a great post. And dead on.

  6. Nancy says:

    I love Deborah Tannen — reading her books in college got me very interested in the subject of human communication. Her observations and research are so on target.

    I will be interested to see if my younger girl turns out to be the empathetic type that my older one is — the baby is much more physical, much less verbal than her sister was at 16 months. My husband and I were comparing them last night, because my older daughter had been verbally sparring with a playmate. Hubby said (quite accurately) that the baby would be much more likely to smack first, talk later. Hmmmm…

  7. Grammy says:

    I took a ton of child development classes in college, many of whom contended that it was ALL environmental. They thought we teach our children how to act like boys and girls.

    Doubtful, I tried an experiment with my own kids. As soon as you could reach for things I surrounded you with “different gender” toys to see what would happen. WITHOUT FAIL you girls reached for dolls or stuffed animals, while the brother went for balls and wheels.

    So the consensus of my great scientific experiment is………
    You came different! And you were all terrific. And you still are!

  8. Sugarmama says:

    That’s so cute that Laylee’s already trying to comfort you! She DOES sound girly. And I agree that boys and girls are just born different, but I have to tell you that my baby Bean sounds quite a lot like your boy Magoo. She’s also super-physical and determined to thwart any obstacles in her path, which is totally unlike her older Sister as a baby. I’m so interested to see how it’s all going to turn out…!

  9. Liz says:

    -woman mind here relating sympathetically- I breathe my own spit when I’m really nervous. Like at dinner with people I don’t really know. And in choir practice with people I don’t know. I also tend to spill ranch dressing on my blouse 5 minutes before needing to go sing at conferences w/ meals.

    Confereneces w/ meals should be banned.

    And my husband now supplies me with at least one bottle of water before every choir practice so I don’t embarrass the heck out of him when I stop breathing.

  10. Heth says:

    Great post DYM. And so true.

  11. Tigersue says:

    How true it is. Sometimes there are the aberations, girls that go over anything in the path, and extremely sensitive boys, but I think some things are just part of our makeup. We called our son Sampson when he was a baby because he nearly pushed a chair through a window, and tipped a heavy, cast iron bird cage on top of me!

  12. Karen says:

    So true. Now I’d like to see a post about the differences in relationships between mother/daughter and mother/son. Is there one?

  13. And boys love their own spit, too. They have been known to make bubbles out of it, among other things- boys are really different than girls…

  14. bon says:

    I can empathise with the spitbreathing action, but you may not find it too comforting. I only ever do it when I am pregnant. It is how I knew I was pregnant with Pearl a week before I could do one of those home tests. Good luck with that!

  15. Susan says:

    The ‘solution’ most often offered at my house (which is chock full o’ boys) is to BUILD something, like a rocket or a very tall tower or a moat. Because THAT will solve the problem–no matter what the problem is.

  16. Caryn says:

    Hilarious! I read this one to my husband, as we’ve talked about the whole Mars vs. Venus thing a time or two.

  17. novaks8 says:

    Ahh but you assume that the neatness/dainty thing is a male female thing.

    It is not.

    These traits are not gender specific!

    And you can have 6 kids and every single one be different.

    Trust me!

    God made men and women different to complement each other.
    Women try so HARD to mold a man into a sensitive, caring mate yet when he is, we complain that he isn’t manly enough.

    Men are simple creatures.

  18. Kristen says:

    Oh, so true. I appreciate this post and your way with words. The coughing thing?? Been there, done that.

  19. MommyMaki says:

    I have to disagree with you.

    My daughter is like a “male” or a tomboy. She has no fear, never liked or likes being cuddled and is extremely physical. I had a person mention to me how she’s not dainty at all at playgroup, cuz “she takes the falls and gets right up without even a whimper”. She said it’s neat how I treat her like a boy. Not so, she was just born fierce. It’s funny when I see other girls her age being all afraid of everything. Very odd to me.

    My boy though is only 4 months and I can see very polar opposite from his sister. He likes to be cuddled and cooed at. He wants to be held all day and is very sensitive to everything around him.

    So, I guess I’ll be buying trucks and cars for the girl and dolls and stuffed animals for the boy 🙂

  20. Peter says:

    Once again the DYM gets them talking, and thinking.

  21. surcie says:

    Love pensive’s policy. I grew up with sisters and all of my friends were girls. So I didn’t know a thing about boys. But somehow, I ended up with a boyishly boyish boy. He’s definitely got a dainty side. He’ll gladly get his hands muddy, but if it’s food that’s made ’em messy, forget it. He wants me to wipe them off ASAP. And he’s totally horrified if I’ve got a crumb or whatever on my face.

  22. Carrie says:

    Oh, my mother-in-law would have to agree with you DYM. She had nine children and four of them are boys and the only ones to each break a window in her house. My husband put a basketball through their big front window. I can understand what the others are saying about personality differences, as I have a girl who is quite loud and boyish but also loves Cinderella dresses and wands and fairy wings. I think though, looking at my girls and my boy, there are still obvious differences in the way they handle situations that arise. It amazes me.

  23. Jenna says:

    Haha…see, that’s funny, because my first instinct, before you even got to the point of the post, was to tell you a story about how I inhaled my own spit once and how silly it was.
    Case closed.

  24. Heather says:

    I love the Mars-rover analogy. Can I please please please hug that boy soon?

  25. Rachelle says:

    My boy is so not like yours. I hear about these all manly boys and that is not my son. He’s laid back and easy going. I think he is a mutant. which means my next one will be “Challenging”

  26. elliespen says:

    I’d like to clarify on Not Too Pensive’s comment. I don’t nod submissively, I just smile and nod. I think I got a better grade in biology than he did.

    I also just keep thinking of my cousins, a family of six. The older two girls are relatively calm, but the middle two boys have two modes: wired and asleep. The younger two girls, though, seem to be trying to out-do the boys. In their family they have the Stitches Club and the Broken Bones club, etc.

    When the youngest was born, they were worried at first that maybe she had hearing problems because she didn’t react to any of the loud noises at all. Then they figured out that it wasn’t that she couldn’t hear them, she was just used to them because that was the normal volume coming from her older siblings as they climbed on things, fell off, jumped on each other, got stitches and broke bones as a family every day. I love them all (they’re too cute, really), but it definitely makes me much more skeptical of Pensive’s theory that little girls don’t cause chaos. #5 in the family particularly wreaks mayhem and havoc wherever she goes, and she’s been doing it since she was tiny small (I think she’s 9 now and still going strong).

  27. Good grief another girl in the world that cannot tolerate water near the eye, so much my Minniemee, so very VERY much and she now has my boys doing it even though it doesn’t Really bother them, but they love her so much that they must do it! I almost couldn’t believe it, another one! I have to admit secretly, I did it too…well into high school I d e s p i s e d water in my eyes. Oh, still do!

  28. Alissa says:

    classic. i did that choking on my own spit thing a couple weeks ago… i literally contemplated calling 911 just in case i died… so someone would come take care of the kids.

  29. Lei says:

    I am totally rofl at the image of your little boy. You describe their method of movement perfectly! I am amazed at how soon my boys and girl (soon to be girls) show their differences. It is just uncanny! Pesonally, I can’t wait to have another non-throwing, non-crashing, non-forging baby around, but the emotions – oh the sheer amount of emotions a girl, even in babyhood, goes through in one day… oy,that’s a challenge too.

  30. Chris says:

    So, so true. I have only one daughter and six sons. There are days I feel like I am living in stereotype hell with all of them 😉

  31. bowersita says:

    How ironic that I had a huge coughing spasm for no apparent reason except maybe I didn’t chew my food all they way, which occurred in front of all these teachers in faculty room. NICE! Anyways, I think your Mars-rover is kind of cute and Laylee too. I would also hope the Daring Young Family will work out their gender differences in the next “Daring Family Free-style rap battle”. Peace out….word to your mother. Did I tell you I taught my 20 mo old neice to say “Ice, Ice, Baby?”

  32. well, its been known for quite some time that there are innate differences. i believe the first of it started in the garden of eden, when eve noticed that hangy thing on adam.

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