Thursday, 8 November 2012

Boys and girls

I have been looking through old photographs of when my children were young and I truly marvel at how different my children are. As a preschool teacher I was very aware of trying to offer my children the possibility to be exactly who they want to be and not to be defined by their gender - but despite offering cars, trains and the likes to my identical girls they were never used like they were when my son came along, and even though Michael had his own dolls he never played with them as much as the girls did.

I will never forget the day when he was 9 months old and we had just dropped off his sisters at preschool and Michael and I went out for a coffee date together in town (of course it was just me having the coffee)! As we sat in the café some people with inlines came in and he was fascinated by their feet - he then looked down at his feet and then gave me the look "why did you not give birth to me with wheels on my feet?"

The above film is Michael at the age of nearly 15 months totally engrossed in the car while his sisters were engaged in role-play in the pretend grocery store (Eureka). Michael's choices as a toddler were very different from his sisters when they were toddlers - even though they all had access to the same toys and experiences...

Michael insisted in wearing a skirt to the French Bastille Day dance
The girls did love to dance in pink frilly dresses and princess dresses - and when they did Michael would do the same, even though it was just for a little while before he would tear it off - he was two when he stopped doing that (but he stopped putting any dress up clothes on then too - he developed a fear that he would turn into someone else and would stop being Michael - so Halloween and Lucia celebrations were all terrifying events for him for many years - oh, we got round the Lucia one by buying him  pyjamas that were really the tomte (santa) suit. So he just felt as if he was going in pyjamas). Of course Michael has always been allowed to wear a pink frilly dress or skirt when he wants to - which raised a few eye-brows in a small French village on Bastille Day!!

There have been activities that the children have always met with equal interest and enthusiasm - insects, animals, water, constructing with natural material and making chocolate cake! - to name a few.

looking for lizards on holiday has always been a favourite

bug hunting - none of them fear holding bugs

constructing a stick city

Sometimes we have to acknowledge the wonderful differences there are in boys and girls, but I think we always need to be aware that we are not holding anyone back or pushing too much due to gender. That we first and foremost see a child - a unique child - a child with potential - a competent child - a child with needs - and what we have to do - as teachers and as parents is to focus on the competency, the potential, the uniqueness and the needs regardless of gender - because only that way can we offer the child the possibility to acquire a full range of human talents and emotions which in turn will allow individuals to have a wider understanding and acceptance of others.


  1. Tänker två saker. Att det finns filmer där man ger ett nyfött barn med blöja, så att man inte kan se om det är en flicka eller pojke, till vuxna och beroende på om man säger att det är en flicka eller pojke, så behandlar de vuxna barnet helt olika. T.ex. så tolkar de vuxna skrik hos barnet som ilska om man sagt att det är en pojke och om man sagt att det är en flicka så tröstar de vuxna och tolkar att barnet är ledset. De vuxna talar med mjukare röst till "flickan" osv. Det andra jag tänker på är "ordspråket" det tar en hel by till att uppfostra ett barn, jag menar vi är inte ensamma om att påverka barnen. Det är viktigt hur vi som föräldrar är som förebilder, men vi lever i ett samhälle och en kultur och kan inte stänga ute omvärlden. Så vad som är gener och vad som är normer kan vi inte riktigt veta tänker jag, men som sagt, det viktigaste är att alla tillåts vara som de är!

    1. it took me forever to get used to Michael being a boy - I called him a girl for quite some time being so used to two girls from the start...
      but I know what you mean, that there are many that do have radically different views of males and females and how their noises are interpreted differently...

      My husband keeps telling me that not everyone has come so far in their gender journey as I have - and that I need to respect that others are going to need more support to get there.

      The great thing is that there are many that are working towards that all children are treated as children and that their individual needs are met rather than their gender being met - and I tend to hang around with this crowd mostly - which gives me more strength to see each individual... and it makes me happy that shops and other areas of society are starting to listen to the voices of parents that do not wish for their children to be categorised and judged by their gender...
      it is a case that all these individuals that are raising their children also raise their voices too - otherwise there is the risk that the unwritten rule is that boys are like this and girls are like that even though there are less and less believing in those rules ... but unwritten rules do have a stong influence - so its time to "rewrite" them...