Tag Archives: nature vs nurture

The difference between raising boys & girls

Here’s a fun fact you might not know: Strangers love talking to parents.

I mean, LOVE it. Every time I leave my house with my kids, we are bombarded by strangers who ask all kinds of totally appropriate questions, like, “Are those gingers!? Carol, look, she’s got two gingers!” and “How did YOU end up with redheads? You don’t have red hair. Tell me your family’s genealogy.” and “Oh, are you leaving? Hang on, I want to rub your kid’s hair for good luck.”

Once we’ve exhausted the hair topic, however, these strangers almost always move onto the subject of raising boys vs. girls, since the other outstanding feature of my kids is that they are opposite genders. And, man, let me tell you, people have VERY strong opinions regarding this. This gender stuff is some serious business. I have learned so much. Almost all of it against my will.

And yet, all this unsolicited advice has had the side effect of making me pay closer attention to the biological differences of my own offspring.

Here’s a good example. My son, who is 3, always wants to wrestle with me. My daughter, who is 14 months, always wants to wrestle the dog. So, clearly, all those people who say girls are smarter are correct. The dog always lets Mae win. I, however, have a good 90 pounds on my son and do an amazing flying elbow move from the couch.

So far, I’ve won 378 times and Riker has won zero.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg in the vast ocean of their gender-based differences. They both have very different views of danger, for instance. He tries his best every day to kill himself by jumping erratically around on his bed (in fact, he views that song, “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” as more of a how-to guide than a cautionary tale). She, meanwhile, is determined to kill herself by climbing to the top of our tall unsecured bookshelves.

I don’t know how much research has been done in terms of chromosomes and food preferences but I can tell you he loves chicken nuggets and hates vegetables. But SHE loves cheese and hurling whatever else is on her plate across the room. And once she runs out of everything else, she’ll hurl the cheese.  

She is by far the gentler of the two, always making sure to hug me after she smacks me full-on in the face and knocks my glasses off my face. He, on the other hand, will only hug me after hitting me if he draws blood. Although, granted, that could be more of an age thing. He’s a toddler, which basically means he’s a tiny psychopath, and she’s a baby, so leans more toward sociopathy.

Like any typical boy, Riker loves to play with cars. Mae, on the other hand, only wants to play with cars if they are her brother’s cars. She completely ignores the cars we bought specifically for her, choosing instead to use his to repeatedly run over her baby doll’s face.

Riker is definitely the funnier one, but Mae will occasionally do something she personally finds hilarious, like taking off her diaper and peeing on a pile of clean clothes.

Now, my daughter did start walking sooner than her brother…I think. I kind of fudged the facts in their baby books because I forgot to fill them out at an appropriate time (literally didn’t even crack them open before their first birthdays) and so just kind of winged it. As for talking, it’s hard to pinpoint when Riker started because he pretty much came out of the womb talking gibberish, which eventually turned into English, but since he never stopped to take a breath, I’m unsure when he said his first word. I do know his first sentence was “that’s not cheese” and her second word was “cheese,” so that right there shows you that I feed both genders way too much cheese.

Color-wise, they both seem pretty ambivalent about the whole pink and blue thing. When jumping full-bodied into a giant mud puddle, neither one seems to care what color their clothes are. But who knows? Maybe they would care more if their mother wasn’t such a feminist. But at least Riker is the more sports-oriented one. At his soccer games, he is on the actual field when he decides to lay down and play dead while his sister is busy licking soccer balls on the sidelines.

It just goes to show you. Men really are from Mars. And women clearly are from Venus.

And obviously children are from near Uranus. (Heh).

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Boogers: A love story

There are a lot of mysteries in this world we have yet to solve. Why do we all accept kale as food when clearly it’s gross? Why do we all remember it as Berenstein Bears and not Berenstain Bears? Why do we all hate Anne Hathaway and her stupid face so much?

And then there’s black holes and stuff.

But while there are a million think pieces on Anne’s dumb horse face and our collective desire to punch it, I have yet to see professional, or even armchair, intellectuals address a much more important mystery, even though it is an issue that affects millions of households across this great nation of ours.

Yes, as common as it is, the blight of chronic toddler nose picking remains one of our last great taboos (and this is in a society that has made Irritable Bowel Syndrome a household name). So much so that even all those “Well, actually” guys who know everything about everything (but especially about whatever current topic you are discussing) are quiet on the issue. Star Wars? Feminism? The history of craft beer brewing? They’re basically experts. Yet bring up boogers? Nada. A resounding silence. Nothing except for the faint, squishy sound of a tiny, chubby finger shoved up a tiny nostril.

Sigh. Clearly, I get easily worked up over this issue. Because this one hits close to home.

My son, my beautiful, baby boy, is a nose picker.

It started out with just the occasional experimental nasal expedition. But now? Pffft. He’s gotta have a hit every 20 minutes or so.

What the hell is up there that is so goddamn important?

I mean, there has to be a reason. It must be something. Something must be worth all those nosebleeds. Something must be worth the endless punishments he’s given every time that finger finds its way back to its adopted home.

Is it nature? Some biological instinct? Although I can’t imagine what survival skill is represented by this habit. Unless, perhaps it’s a leftover part of our lizard brain from our caveman days? Maybe boogers were an all-organic pigment for cave drawings? Or a natural glue for the busy caveman on the go?

My own personal pride makes me doubt that it’s the other side of the coin, that it’s nurture. I pick my nose in secret. Like a lady.

It could have a nutritional aspect to it, I suppose. His body is probably screaming out for something with protein since all he’ll eat these days is cheese crackers and chocolate-covered raisins. Do boogers have protein? Either way, it’s gotta be healthier than the “cheese” (and I use that term oh-so-loosely) holding those crackers together.

Maybe the compulsion is psychological in nature. A distraction? A coping mechanism? Digging into his nose is a physical manifestation of digging into his psyche? He did watch a rather stressful “Sesame Street” episode the other day.

Is it a scientific experiment? Seeing if it’s possible to touch his brain? There are days he goes past the second knuckle. He’s gotta be somewhat close.

Maybe he is quite literally digging for gold. Are boogers kid currency? Has anyone investigated the seedy underworld of the kiddie black market? Two boogers in exchange for a gram of uncut Nerd candies? Three for a pack of candy cigarettes (are those even legal anymore)? An ounce of mucus mixed with blood for a used fidget spinner?

WHY DO CHILDREN DO THIS?

And more importantly, how do I get mine to stop?

Ugh. Truly, this is so frustrating. It’s enough to make me want to punch someone. Where’s Anne Hathaway when you need her?