I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy and princess rolled into one. Growing up, I loved to climb trees and catch tadpoles in the creek. But I also loved the plastic high heeled shoes and my Miss America Barbie doll head.
It got me thinking: how do we develop our interests as children? Is it nature? Is it nurture?
I always remembered this poem:
What Are Little Boys Made of?
What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails,
And puppy-dogs’ tails;
That’s what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And all that’s nice;
That’s what little girls are made of.
Are boys and girls really that different? My son said to me just last week that if he was a girl, he couldn’t talk rough. He would have to talk soft and say things like “I love you” (which he does anyway).
So I thought I might conduct a little bit of a research project on some of my favorite kids. And while my research is extremely non-scientific and quiet anecdotal, it’s a pretty fun read.
I was fortunate enough to meet a pretty cool group of moms when our kids were just a few weeks old. As we enrolled in different classes and expanded our circle, we ended up with a group of about 8 moms with kids roughly the same age.
Now those kids are 3 1/2 years old and some are rounding the corner to 4. What a fun age. Playdates take on a different atmosphere. We used to lay our babies on the floor and let them roll around while we snacked and sometimes even sipped wine. Now we’re lucky if we get to say hello to each other because we’re running after the kids, making sure everyone’s sharing, and that no one is hitting anyone.
So I recently asked my friends if they wouldn’t mind doing a little assessment of their kids. It’s totally fun to see how their interests are developing and where gender roles are creeping in. As hard as we try to keep our kids open-minded, I can’t help but see that boys will be boys, and girls just the same.
Here’s where they are today:
Evan: Boy. 42 months. (This is my guy.)
- Totally into action figures. He makes up elaborate good guy-bad guy scenarios whether it’s Buzz Lightyear and the Evil Emperor Zurg, or Astroboy, or Spider-Man, or Ironman. He creates his own universe where the Green Goblin and Zurg are friends and they fight the good guys.
- He loves video games on the iPhone or playing Mario Kart Wii. Yes, he’s already into things I swore I wouldn’t let him do until he was older.
- He likes books in the evening, fun or sappy stories are just fine. And he’s a big fan of Dr. Seuss.
- For his taste in movies and TV, he likes action movies like Toy Story or Astroboy but opts for lesson-learning TV shows like Dragon Tales and Little Bear.
- But mostly? He loves to wrestle with his dad. He tries it with mom from time to time but my nose can only handle so many kicks.
Landon: Boy. 44 months.
- Landon really loves playing Mario Kart on the Wii right now and he is really good at it! We have to limit his time because he would stay on it for hours if we let him.
- In the past few weeks he is doing more imagination/role play.
- He is definitely getting more physical and wrestling, especially with his friends.
- If we go to the park he will play in the sandbox the entire time! Loves the sand.
- He still likes trains but he is not as obsessed as he was a couple of months ago.
- Loves doing puzzles and playing games too.
- He hate Cars now and wants nothing to do with the movie. He will FREAK out if you even mention playing it. Lately he is really into 101 Dalmatians and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He usually finds a movie and sticks to the same one for a few weeks.
- His favorite books are Thomas the Train, Corduroy, this really random book about a duck, and Curious George (also a favorite TV show).
Bobby: Boy. 41 months.
- Bobby is becoming more and more independent too….and has started playing by himself a little. Which I love to watch because he is so cute, making the toys talk or acting out scenes.
- He is still totally into “diggers” (tractors, construction vehicles, dump trucks, etc).
- He has recently started playing with and becoming interested in Spider-Man, Batman and a couple of other super heroes.
- As for movies, he doesn’t really have a favorite, but Scooby is still a good favorite when all else fails.
- And he has started playing board games, drawing/coloring more…things that require a bit more of an attention span, so I am super excited about that.
- Oh, but his FAVORITE thing to do is have “hung fu matches”….doing karate moves and rough housing with Sam or anyone else. And he is and has always been drawn to older kids.
Brady: Boy. 42 months.
- Brady is into role playing. Anything interesting (tv or real life) to him is then reenacted and played at home (e.g., airport/airplane – checking in luggage, metal detector, getting on the plane), doctor, animal rescue, and his newest is animal extractor (as seen on the tv show).
He still enjoys the kitchen and preparing food to serve to us and others.
- Loves building with Legos or Magformers, this is one of the things he does well on his own.
- Enjoys making puzzles and books and he likes to pretend he knows how to read.
- Favorite movies: 101 Dalmatians (only because he likes to point out when they say “You idiot”) and The Smurfs because he likes to point out when Gargamel says “Hate” and anything Toy Story. Still likes to pretend he is Buzz Lightyear and jumps on the furniture and yells “To infinity and beyond.”
- Is very into wrestling, jumping and being picked up and turned all around like crazy. Jumps all over the furniture, beds, etc. Endless energy.
- Oh….loves GUNS (UGH). Loves to play bad guys, pretend the animals shot the bad guys, run around crazy in the house playing shoot em up!
- Ipad – games and movies.
Now, for comparison, let’s see how the girls stack up:
Easton: Girl. 43 months.
- Easton is into princesses & babies (despite my best backhanded efforts to sway her to Fancy Nancy or towards ANYTHING other than Disney Princesses). The best $9 we ever spent was on a life sized doll from Walmart that Santa brought her. She plays with it all the time and dances with her until her arm falls off.
- She still is into dress-up. The fancier the dress the better.
- She does not like to play by herself- she is not a kid that needs time to herself.
- Easton LOVES books because she loves to sit and snuggle and talk about the book we just read. Berenstain Bear books and Clifford are her favorite right now but she goes through phases.
- She is starting to “wrestle” and wants to be tickled.
- She is enjoying playing with language like she is starting to think certain words are funny or wants me to read a book silly by replacing words with other words.
- Movies: CARS, Sleeping Beauty, Toy Story 2
Addie: Girl. 42 months.
- Addie is definitely closer to Easton in her interests than any of the boys. So funny how that happens!
- She insists on wearing dresses and skirts. Hates having her hair brushed but loves hair accessories (barrettes, clips, headbands…)
- She loves climbing on things. She love swinging (and always has).
- She likes princesses. Sometimes she will only answer to “Snow White” and corrects me if I call her Addie. It used to be “Princess Ballerina.”
- Her favorite show is Dora the Explorer.
- She loves playing board games. Right now her favorite is Richard Scarry’s Busytown, which is a lot of fun.
- She’s been into her collection of Highlights Hi-5 magazines lately.
What do you think of this list? How does it stack up to your kids now or when they were that age? And what do you think about gender roles and how they evolve? Is it nature or nurture? I’d love to hear your thoughts!