Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Raising My Daughter Is No Different Than You Raising Your Son!

My oldest daughter in her Easter dress
My oldest daughter at 13 months
I often hear (and heard when my oldest daughter was little), "Well, at least you have it easy, she is a girl." Or "You are going to have so much fun dressing your daughter up and doing her hair." I believed this with my first daughter. My first born, Morrigan, was that stereotypical little girl that loved dolls and tea parties. From the moment she learnt to walk she walked with grace and poise. She twirled in dresses, loved pretty hats, and a simple song would quiet her down in a heart beat. My oldest posed perfectly for photos for as long as can remember. Her hands were always clean and her face was rarely messy as she used to raise her little hands in the air for me to wipe them clean before she even had words to ask. She was that little girl that everyone thinks a little girl should be. I assumed that this was because she was a girl. This timid, shy, quiet, calm, cautious child was the result of the influence of her gender.

How naive I was!

Being a girl doesn't mean my daughters should be any certain way. They don't HAVE to love dresses, or their hair being done. They don't HAVE to pose pretty or keep their face clean. They don't HAVE to sit still and play with dolls. They don't HAVE to be cautious and compliant.None of those things should ever define a girl!

Yet we have certain standards for each gender. Girls should have tea parties with their dolls and boys should race around the house with their super hero action figure screaming wildly. What I have learnt from my youngest daughter is those "standards", those stereotypes are incredibly false! Some boys will rather sit still and play quietly and some girls will make your heart jump into your throat when they jump off the couch because they think they can fly.

My youngest daughter
My youngest daughter, Freya,
Still and quiet
is that kid, that girl that doesn't act "girly". She has always been a bundle of energy. As she gets older this energy increases and I see more of the girl she really is. She is the complete opposite of her sister. Her sister started talking at a very early age and just completely blew me away with how fast she was able to develop an amazing vocabulary. My second daughter just got up and started running at 9 months old. There were not wobbly steps, in a weeks time she was speeding around the living room. She has been climbing all over things since she could crawl. Sitting on her little foam couch she would suddenly throw herself over the back of it. Her face is always messy as she eats like the Beast from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, you know, just drives in face first into a bowl of soup. I don't know whether to hand her a fork or a snorkel. Forget dresses, I can't seem to keep this kid dressed. Its a struggle getting her dressed in the morning then every diaper change turns into an epic battle. At first I was just giving up on getting her pants back on. But then we had developed the "Freya must wear pants" rule after she started taking off her diaper and I had to scrub pee off my rug.

My super hero second born
There is also a difference in the toys she picks. Don't get me wrong, my oldest played with dinosaurs, trains, cars, and action figures. She has many little boy cousins that she grew up closely with so she is no stranger to playing with the boys. But she still always preferred her Princess tea parties and stuff animals.My youngest, however, prefers her cars, her pirate ship riding push toy, and her throwing balls (or anything else she feels like throwing). She races around the living room with her Jake and the Neverland Pirates pirate ship with her stuffed Izzy and Jake's spyglass. She likes pretending to fly like a super hero. I twirl her around in the air with a cape (a towel tucked into her shirt) on her back. She grabs at my legs so I will pick her up and then throws her head back to tell me to spin her around. She loves being tosses and twirled and hung upside while I blow raspberries on her belly.

Laundry wasn't going as planned
Can you find my baby?
You would think having a brand new DSLR camera would mean I would be taking more photos of my youngest than my first. But just as many second children find, the first always gets more photos. I have tried, believe me, but what I get is a big blur. Then came the acting silly instead of smiling. Most of my photos of my youngest is of her sleeping because its the only time she holds still long enough for my shutter to capture the human tornado that is my Freya.

My oldest first words were kitty, girls (her name for the princesses), and baby. My youngest first words are no and stop it! She is just always getting into trouble. My oldest used to climb into her toy box to play. My youngest crawls into her toy box to climb up to the TV in order to smack the screen. She also likes to headbutt the wall when she gets mad. Then there is the attempts of either scaling the baby gate or pushing and pulling until she can pull the gate down as she screams this animal like screech. She is that kid no one wants to babysit, not even my husband is confident enough to be alone with her as she will get herself in trouble at a blink of an eye.

My youngest has shown me that there is no "girl" things or "boy" things. We as a society create the major differences that between genders. I was in a store recently looking in the toy aisle with my girls when we passed a older woman with two boys one I will say was a between one and two years old and the other was about 4 or so. The 4 year old asked for the Frozen play-doh set that was next to us. I heard the woman say that it was a "girly" toy and that he needs to find something in the "boy's aisle" The play-doh was not in the aisle with the Barbies, it was in with all the rest of the play-doh and games. I looked at the set, it had Anna, Olaf, and Sven.They left the aisle and then the boy comes running back. He picks up the Frozen play-doh set and goes running back. Soon the woman returns with the boys and made the 4 year old put it back. She said "I am not buying you a girl's toy, I don't care! Now go pick something out that is a boy's toy. I don't know why you would want a girl's toy." I was shocked that she had such negative things to say, being a woman and all. But this child obviously knew the movie, probably enjoyed it, just because the main characters are girls doesn't mean that a boy can't relate to the story or the characters. I felt for that boy, he really didn't understand what this woman, presumably his grandmother, was saying. He just wanted a play-doh set from the movie Frozen. But again, society creates these separations in genders.

The truth is that children are different, they are as different as every adult. No one can say why a child rather play as a Princess or play as Hulk.Not every child cares whether their hands are clean or dirty. Some children can sit and watch a movie from the moment their eyes can adjust to a TV screen and some gets too anxious sitting still for that long. Some children love reading others rather build a tower of blocks and then smash it down. It all depends on the child. Its not parenting styles, its not gender, its just personality. Children should not be treated differently because of their gender. But I will say that each child needs the room to grow into who they are. You do have to handle each child differently, not all children respond the same way to learning, discipline, encouragement, and attention. Parents need to remember that their children are little people with their own personalities. We should hold our children's hands and tell them we will love them no matter what their choices are. We need to stop deterring children away from things based on gender or because we would rather our children do something else. Letting our children be individuals while guiding them safely through life is what parenting should be about. So whether my youngest plays with Barbies or Spiderman that is completely up to her. I will buy what she wants, I will treat her the way she wants, and I will love the differences in my girls. So I might not be able to do my youngest's hair when ever she grows any, I never liked doing hair anyways!