As you probably know by now, I have 5 boys and 2 girls; you may think that qualifies me in some small way to share parental wisdom in the raising of the different genders, but I assure you, I have so much more to learn! Perhaps that is wisdom in itself though, right? We always have more to learn. Kids are always growing and changing, their personalities and temperaments often so different that parenting one child is the polar opposite of parenting another.
I had my three boys first, in a row, before daughter Josephine made her appearance. My life was all about jumping on couches, obstacle courses, books on trucks, books on dinosaurs, books on soldiers, messes, tantrums, transformers, fighting, etc. Somehow I thought that having a girl would be a major shifting of gears, but honestly, not too much changed. Granted, she dresses up in princess clothes and plays Barbie sometimes, but she is just as likely to climb furniture, to argue with siblings, or to read a book about tarantulas. Although she is darn good Mom's helper when in the mood and we do have very sweet mother-daughter moments, overall I haven't been floored with the grand gender differences that I expected. Two more boys, then another daughter, and I still feel like I parent children not necessarily genders.
This past week, I offered to babysit the children of a friend while she left for a wedding anniversary day trip. Her son is 9, and is friends with Matt and Theo, playing on the same soccer team. Her daughter, Claire, is tall and lovely and I assumed at least 14. She was mature and friendly and super helpful! She offered to cook, to clean, to watch kids outside--I felt like I had hired her! Then she floored me. She said she was 11.
Um, my eldest, Nate, is 11. I love Nate, and he can cook a mean breakfast (for himself), and get (himself) dressed, and is a pretty mature kid (when he is in a good mood), etc. but he is not NEARLY at the capability level of this gal. Marveling at this, I talked to her mom later--who also is the blessed mother of two other girls ages 15 and 19--and she revealed the wonderful secret of teenage girls: they are simply amazing.
Girls get bad press sometimes. Whenever folks hear of my girl v. boy child ratio, a typical response is "Boys are harder when they are young, but LOOKOUT! Girls are nightmares when teens!" Well, that is not the feeling of large family moms, let me tell you! They know that teen (and pre-teen) girls are capable, mature, responsible, and detail-oriented. Now, I'm not saying that they are perfect, or drama-free, but these mothers assure me that if you ask your daughter to clean her room or clean the refrigerator, the job will be done well.
None of this shoving under the bed stuff that my boys consistently pull. And this is why large family moms always told me, "Oh, it's too bad you didn't have girls first!" Now I get it!
I guess the signs are there. Jo is the only child to put her shoes in the bin when she comes through the door. She enjoys getting Simona dressed for the day. I look forward to seeing the young woman she will become!
Easy Rule #2556: Ignore the haters and nay-sayers and enjoy your kids as they grow, no matter the gender.
Easy Rule #45632: Boys have more interests and passions than a mom could imagine; nurture their active minds and bodies! Someday, they will mow your lawn and carry all sorts of heavy things too! But leave the babysitting to the girls.