Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The science of gender.

The other day, I handed my first born the first pair of socks I could lay my hands on.

"No, Amma, those are girl socks!!!", said my 3 year old.

They turned out to be yellow, pink and purple. Explanation: I received a bunch of girl stuff along with boy hand-me-downs for Shiv. I've managed to get my son to use the clothes (pink pajamas, a white sweater with flowers, etc.) at home. I thought I was getting away with it...until the other day!!! He was pretty adamant about not wearing them although he couldn't really explain why he thought they were girl socks. I didn't push the issue and trudged upstairs for some dull brown ones, which he happily wore, exclaiming, "Good job, Amma!! These are boy socks!!".

When I was pregnant with Shiv, I made a very conscious decision not to go crazy with the whole blue vs pink issue. I very deliberately didn't find out if we were going to have a boy or girl, and ended up buying neutral coloured clothing. So I went with whites, greens, yellows, oranges and even purple. Now, before you begin to feel sorry for my little boy for not being dressed in the appropriate colour, I will let you know that after he was born, we were flooded with the blues. Invariably, a clothing gift would turn out to be some shade of blue.....powder blue, royal blue, steel blue, sky blue, light blue, baby blue, etc, etc.

Of course, my son's favourite colour turned out to be pink at one point!!! (Hey, haven't you heard the phrase "Real men wear pink"!!!). Anyway, he keeps changing his mind...today it's yellow!! I don't really remember at any point telling him that girls and boys did very specific things. I've always tried to use gender-neutral terms like firefighter, mail person, flight attendant, etc, etc. It's really interesting though how children develop their sense of gender from interacting with other kids and what they watch on TV.

Shiv and I were watching 'Dancing with the Stars'; he loves anything with music and movement. During the commercial break, he looked at me and said, "Amma, boys and girls dance with each other". I thought for a while, and said, "Well, boys can dance with boys too, and girls can dance with girls." What I meant was when you have an all male or all female entourage on stage.

"No, Amma!!! Only boys and girls dance!!!", he said vehemently. I just smiled at him.

And then he decided a few days ago that his best friend was Simran. She is the cutest 3 year old with sparkly eyes and a charming smile. "Amma, I love Simyan!! I'm going to tell Simyan that I love her!!".

"Sure!!", I said, smiling at him, and thinking to myself, "Just don't say it in front of her Dad!! You don't want a restraining order on you this early in life!!!".

I asked him in the car today, on the way to day care, whether he loved his friends Jackson and Ethan. He shook his head and said, "No, only Simyan.", and then after a while, added, "And Ashley". Our neighbour's 4 year old across the street.

So, my 3 year old already has a sense of the gender issue. I just hope he doesn't develop stereotypes about it. I mean, honestly, I have no qualms with him wearing pink, and being in the kitchen. Yes, I do want him to follow his dreams but be practical in life as well. I want him to grow up with the knowledge that one can accomplish anything they set their minds on. After all some of the world's best chefs are men, and countries have been protected by women on the battle front! I guess as long as he respects himself and others; that's what really matters.

1 comment:

Meghana said...

Hey Meg;
loved reading your blog-no question that children have a finely honed sense of gender very early on life-our boys exemplify that by telling their Mom early on that Papa shouldn't cook breakfast -'cuz that was Mom's 'job'!
Keep up the blogs-will check in from time to time