I don’t write parenting blogs nor do I submit entries to parenting blogs, those proliferate the internet and what’s needed to be said on the subject has been written, rewritten and expounded on for any run of the mill parent to rehash modern parenting issues. I consider myself a rather modern parent who do not subscribe to any ‘style’ of parenting except my own and what feels natural for my children.
On the popular parenting blog ‘Scary Mommy’ , it’s a look at parenthood through a lense of humor, a place for moms and dads (mostly moms) to release their pent up frustrations, joys and everything else that comes with parenting. It rarely gets too serious and is relatable to the average mom. It’s much preferred than those sanctimonious sounding ones run by the breastapo and attachment parenting advocates who go out of their way to make other moms who don’t breastfeed until their child is in first grade and not wear them in a sling feel like failures.
But I came across an entry called ‘A Plea for Boyhood and Rough Play’ by Celeste Brinson, and it talks about how little boys differ from little girls when it comes to play and the roughness and messiness involved. I interpret her view as ‘boys will be boys’ and to socialize them to be more feminine amounts to cruelty (my words not hers). And she’s quite sick of askance looks she gets from mostly mothers of little girls who play differently. This topic is relevant because there is now a lot of discussion of gender identification and socialization and what makes a boy and what makes a girl. With the transgender movement in full swing, many children (some as young as 5) are coming out as transgender and are demanding to dress in the gender they identify with not the one they are born with.
Of course the debate rages about boys and girls and is it a nurture or nature phenomenon or is it socialization by the parents. The comments section of this entry were peppered with anecdotal evidence agreeing with or the contrary of the Brinson’s assertions and some were downright nasty and judgemental as to be expected from parenting websites. Some went so far as to call her kid an ‘asshole’ whom she couldn’t control, that’s taking it a bit far.
As a parent of one girl and one boy, my belief is that kids are kids, they do what they can get away with, whether it’s rough play, table manners, bath and bedtime routine, manners etc. This particular article addresses the issue of boys who tend to play rough are treated like a pariah in play groups, especially one dominated by little girls, and you cannot blame other parents, if you have kid that plays rough, perhaps then you should find another kid or kids who also play rough as a normal way of play then you will have no complaints from the parents. Parents have a legitimate concern to anyone ‘playing rough’ with their child. Playing with sticks, splashing water and throwing rocks and fistfuls of dirt isn’t most parents’ idea of fun play, and for me, it’s the goddamned mess. I hate mess. I spent the last three years of my life cleaning up little people’s messes, so no please no mud throwing, mud eating over here please. Brinson also mentioned that some parents discourge that type of play because it’s an inconvenience to the parents. You are damn right it’s inconvenient, I don’t want to clean mud and crap off my kid because that’s how your kid plays. And if that is a ‘deprivation’ to my child, that’s just too bad. They can work it out in therapy later.
It’s unclear that if that is a ‘boy’ thing as equal number of people can probably tell you that they have the roughest little girl ever and I’ve seen a few myself. My daughter is older than my son by almost 2 years, when he learned to walk and when they are able to play together I noticed my daughter begun to shove her little brother, she was playing and didn’t mean any harm but he didn’t think it funny as he was a bit unsteady on his feet still and would fall over. I would correct her behavior and to be gentle with her baby brother. She listened, most of the time. When my son got closer to the Terrible Two’s he started shoving and pushing his older sister thinking I wasn’t paying attention and I told him that he cannot push his sister just because he is younger. My daughter by this point was old enough and trained by me to never shove, hit or push her little brother and she has become a sitting duck for him which I didn’t allow either.
In post-feminism parenting, gender differences aren’t ‘allowed’ to be pointed out or addressed for fear of gender stereotyping, the whole experiment where you give little girls trucks to play with and little boys dolls to play with is met with mixed results at best, which leads many child development experts to conclude that children should develop at their own pace (no really? I didn’t need an ‘expert’ to tell me that). For every girl that rejects the truck and turns the truck into a doll, you will have another girl who can’t get enough of leggos and trucks. For every boy that rejects a barbie and somehow mutiliates the barbie doll into a toy gun, you have another boy who sleeps with his barbie at night, and it could all just be a ‘phase’ until the next thing comes along.
Mothers are the harshest judges, they reserve the worst and harshest judgement for themselves, we think we are failing our children if they don’t know their ABCs by the time they can walk and talk, and if we don’t read bedtime stories to them, we are stunting their vocalbulary and cognitive advancement. Every other day we have a study telling us ‘kids whose parents read to them or spend x amount of time with them reviewing vocabulary does better at school or their IQ is higher’ etc, to which a gullible mother (it’s always the mom) goes out and buy every popular bedtime story to read to their child in hopes of improving his or her future prospects.
‘Parenting’ is a legitimate money making industry now, the number of parenting books written by ‘experts’ explaining why their parenting method is best and the amount people that line up to buy this stuff is alarming. What happened to trusting our own instincts and know what’s best for our child? What’s best for our child is a confident and relaxed mother, not a ‘perfect’ mother.