Friday, November 30, 2007

The Girly-Girl

I know a lot of people get caught up in gender roles and have concerns about teaching their kids to like or do either “boy” or “girl” stuff. I don’t have too many concerns about this myself and I think that sometimes as a parent you need to just relax a bit. I will admit that when my boys were little that I didn’t want them to play with toy guns. I soon found out though, that if you don’t supply them, they’ll just make them out of Lego’s.

I’m not saying that I would steer my girls into careers that involved doing hair or nails. I would rather buy a toy doctor kit over a cash register. I let the girls help me with household chores but their brothers did the same. After all, at some point they will be off on their own. I am hoping that they will have the sense to clean the house, regardless of their gender or number of advanced degrees.

With the boys, a new baby was a bit of a novelty for the first couple of days. Then they would go about the business of playing with cars, trucks and little guys. They were really just too busy to pay much attention to a baby for any length of time.

When my son William was born, his two and a half year old brother was shocked to see “the new baby.” The first thing he said was, “Look! He has a mouth just like me!” Though it came out more like, “Wook! He has a mouse just wike me!” A couple of days after that, he saw me changing the baby and was again shocked that his baby brother was anatomically correct. He looked at the baby and said, “Wook! He has a penis just wike me!” This ended the fascination with the baby and it was back to playing pirate again.

I have noticed that the girls behave completely differently than their older brothers did. They fight more. Then they cry a lot more. They are also way more into babies than their brothers were and just seem to be more nurturing in general.

Before the current baby, Marin, was born, I would joke with Claire and Katie about how they were going to be awfully busy changing diapers pretty soon. This was always met with a chorus of “EWWW! Gross! I’m not doing that!” and “No way! That’s your job!” It was always fun to get them going and act like I was serious about them changing diapers. Even after the baby arrived I would continue to amuse myself and say things like, “Uh-oh. The baby’s poopy. Which one of you guys is going to do this one?” No big surprise that I got the same response every single time.

Now imagine the shock the first time my four-year old decided to change the baby. I had put her down on a quilt to go and retrieve a clean sleeper then returned to discover that Katie had already removed her clothes and diaper and was carefully cleaning her with a baby wipe. She insisted on putting the clean diaper on by herself and didn’t want any help.

Not to be outdone, her big sister also started changing diapers as well. Claire and Katie actually began fighting over whose turn it was to change the baby. The whole thing was just….astonishing.

Claire doesn’t want any part of the poopy diapers but that rarely deters Katie. She simply says that she loves the baby so much that she doesn’t care if she touches poop. She will even apply Desitin if there is any sign of redness.

A couple of days ago I was busy trying to do several things at the same time. I put the baby down on her quilt to start some laundry and without thinking about it, asked Katie to change her pants. Katie immediately swooped in to take over while I walked to the back porch pondering the fact that I had just asked a kid that has been five for a total of two weeks to care for an infant. It’s right up there on the parenting scale with suggesting to the kids that they "help Mommy look out for cops.” Which I am a little ashamed to admit I have done that as well.

I have to remind myself to not take advantage of the fact that the girls are very willing to help with the baby. I think about that a lot. I need to go check on Katie. She should be about done cleaning that oven by now.


Janie said...

You, as usual, crack me up! You know that heck-a-busy loves company. I sometimes feel badly for having my teenagers help with changing diapers etc. It sounds however like your 5 year old does a waaaay better job than my teenagers who seem to get more poop on the couch than on the wipes.

Emery Jo said...

What great helpers! And adorable to boot! :) I love your point of view on chores and helping out... I hope to teach that to my son as well. Love the blog- I will be back!