Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of talk around here lately about the differences between boys and girls. This might be because "penis" is a favorite word in Max's blossoming vocabulary (sigh) and there was shock, Shock!, the first time he witnessed a Molly Diaper Change.
Or, it might be because the boys are present and aware while I breastfeed Molly, and there has been discussion about how Mommies can feed the babies from their bodies but not the Daddies. (Because, as Max says, "Mommies have those circles." I guess that's what less-than-A's look like to a 2-year old. Sigh.)
Or, perhaps, it's because, now that there's a little girl in the house, people have been asking Evan and Max if they're going to "protect" their little sister. I'm kind of on the fence about how I feel about this question. On the one hand, I want them to respond with an automatic "Yes!" because, as members of a family, it's our job (and hopefully desire) to stick up for one another, look out for one another, and be each other's champion. But on the other hand, I don't want them to hear the message, "You're boys and she's a girl, so she's going to need your help." And then again, both Evan and Max have been requesting that Sam and I tell "King and Queen stories" lately. And they always give "suggestions" as to the plot line, and it ALWAYS involves Brave Knight Evan and Brave Knight Max rescuing Princess Molly from the evil fire-breathing dragon's dungeon. (And we haven't even really delved into the Disney Princess movies....I'm not really sure where they picked this up. Another facet of the collective unconscious?)
Whatever the impetus, we've been talking Boys and Girls for a few weeks now. And I always try to balance the noted differences with similarities. This morning at breakfast, Max was putting his spoon up to his eye and pretending that it was a telescope. (Naturally.) "Look through my telescope, Mommy, and look for Minnie."
So I looked, but instead of finding Minnie, I spotted Goofy.
Max didn't like how I changed his game. "No, Mommy, you don't see Goofy. Goofy is at work. You see Minnie."
"Minnie's not at work?" I asked.
"No, Minnie's not at work. Minnie's a girl."
"Girls can go to work, too, Max. Mom Mom and Grandmother go to work. Aunt Lizzie goes to work. And before I decided to stay at home with you guys, I went to work everyday, too."
Evan piped up: "Yeah, Max. Just not Mommies go to work."
"Well, some Mommies go to work," I interject, "Girls and Ladies, even Mommies, can do anything Boys and Men can do."
Max went back to his cereal (and telescope), but Evan remained thoughtful. Finally, after a few minutes, he said, "You know what? I can think of two things that Girls can do that Boys can't: Mommies can have babies grow in their tummies AND Mommies can feed babies milk with their bodies...."
"You're right, bud. That's how Mommies' and Daddies' bodies are different."
"...I just can't seem to think of ANYthing that boys can do that girls can't!"
I think the right message is getting through.