After an elaborate negotiation with Magnolia about some minute point over the weekend, I turned to Chrissy and quietly spelled out: “h-e-a-d case.” Our daughter’s got a lot going on in that little noggin of hers, and it’s often dauntingly complex.
Which is why I found a recent post on Yahoo! Shine intriguing — and, no, it wasn’t 6 Ways to Make Family Memories on Super Bowl Sunday. (By the way, that hasn’t happened, right? All of my Facebook friends who were posting loyalties to one team or another last weekend — that was all playoff stuff, wasn’t it? I am not kidding when I say I have absolutely no idea.)
But the Superbowl thing relates to where I’m going with this post…. We’re a two-mom family — there’s no one here to make sure we know when Superbowl Sunday is, who’s playing, or what the outcome is. There is no sports talk happening. There is no wrestling on the floor or getting physical in a “guy” kind of way. It would be the same for a single mom, and I don’t think it’s bad — it’s just different than a more traditional mom and dad household, where there’s a daily male influence.
And I do think about that lack of male input in relation to parenting styles. Which (finally) leads me back to the Yahoo! post — Raising Boys: 5 Things Dads Can Teach Moms About Raising Sons. (A longer version of the post appears on Babble, too.) Despite some of the negative comments it received in both places, I took it as a fun, lighthearted piece — but it also rang a little true. And it made me think about some of the differences we see in raising Jasper and Magnolia.
Basically, the Babble writer says that boys (maybe not all, but some) are less intense than girls — they are more straightforward emotionally, even if they might have trouble articulating their feelings. He says (playfully, I thought), that moms should:
Think caveman. “Boys tend to feel one of three emotions: mad, sad, happy.” His needs are more basic, not complex. Your young son either wants to “eat, poop, or run.” So don’t bother over-articulating whatever the issue is at hand.
I kind of get this, and think it’s sort of true. Jasper‘s kindergarten teacher and I were talking last year about the differences between boys and girls — while we were watching Magnolia have a mini-tantrum over something I’d told her she couldn’t do. Ms. P. said girls know exactly what they want, even from an early age — and if they don’t get it, that’s where the trouble comes in. Boys, on the other hand, she said, pretty much want to be able to eat and run, and if you give them a snack and time to play, they’ll be happy.
The Babble writer/dad also instructs moms to:
Watch your son’s body language, not his mouth. “Jumping up and down with six-inch vertical leaps is the natural state of being and is good. Slumped shoulders are bad. Yelling is good. Quiet needs attention.”
Again, this makes sense to me. I do feel Jasper is pretty straightforward and it’s not difficult to produce a happy reaction from him — moving and running make him happy! So does being loud and silly! Frankly, it’s pretty easy to navigate and manipulate his moods and behavior. Offering a little treat, suggesting a spin around the corner on his scooter, or even grabbing him for a quick tickle or a hug can dispel a bad moment in a hurry. (There’s a nice nod to the just “give a hug” theory in the Yahoo! article, too. Also a funny riff on the importance of poop in a boy’s life. Again, sort of true for us — poop-time is a real “occasion” for Jasper. Read the whole Yahoo! Raising Sons parenting post here, or the longer version on Babble.)
It’s all harder, at least for now, with Magnolia. Getting her mood to turn around if things aren’t going her way, or getting her to do something she’s really dead-set against, is tricky business. And, honestly, sometimes unpleasant. Even at 4, she’s swift with a verbal barb, dismissive gesture, or criticism of how a mom is handling the situation.
I don’t know. Six years into this parenting thing, I’m still making it up as I go along. Trying to figure things out, understand my kids, and do the best I can. But I have to say, I do think in some ways boys are easier than girls.
What do you think? Easier, or just different?