It’s been intriguing so far to see how our little ones grow and develop from day to day. As expected, the two month age gap between our children has shown obvious differences each step of the way. Ella has demonstrated certain skills and behaviours, shortly followed by Cal exhibiting the same around two months after. It’s been quite comforting for Mrs L to be able to see what’s to come following Mrs O’s forewarning.
Whilst we consider our parenting styles to be very similar, we’re still amazed by the very obvious male vs female difference we’ve observed, no more so than a recent day out together.
We recently visited a wildlife reserve not far from where we live, to make the most of a beautiful sunny spring day. It’s a fantastic place where we can see foxes, deer, wildcats and otters in the grounds, amongst many other beautiful creatures. Both Ella and Cal love animals, you could say they have an obsession with them. They’re both intrigued and amused by the way animals move and behave so differently to themselves.
We both dressed our little ones in wellies in preparation for mud and puddles which we predictably then encountered during the first minutes of our trip. Ella was the first to point out and step into a puddle, but Cals approach was really quite different. While Ella delicately stepped and splashed, Cal stomped and jumped in muddy puddles (Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for!). Ella watched on with intrigue and at times disgust, especially when she was victim of tidal waves of dirty water. This continued for the day, with Ella losing interest in puddles but Cal, at times, returning to spots we’d already visited just to have another go in the puddles.
Next came the obvious differences in how girl vs boy observed the animals in their habitat. While Ella pointed and quietly watched, at times asking questions of mummy, Cal shouted, screamed and banged on the fence or window behind which we were watching each animal. You can imagine which the animals preferred and the responses we saw as a result of each behaviour.
As we walked round the centre, Ella was quite content to walk alongside mummy, daddy and Mrs L. Cal, in distinct contrast was off – running ahead or lagging behind ignoring yells of “stop and wait for us”, “don’t go any further Cal”, or “come on, keep up”. It took Mrs L, as well as Mr and Mrs O to take it in turns to chase after and hold back for the stubborn minded boy of the group.
Both Ella and Cal, like most toddlers, love to pick up stones and sticks. In fact, Ella actually seems to enjoy this even more so that Cal. Their approach however is very different. Whilst Ella will pick up, collect and carry sticks and stones around, Cal will be grabbing handfuls of either or both, which he then proceeds to launch in the air, throw at someone or something, or push them through whatever hole he can find in the fences nearby. Ella did seem to follow suit seeing how much fun Cal was having, but again she demonstrated a delicacy and preciseness about the activity.
The final distinct observation was whilst watching a talk about hedgehogs. Ella sat quietly and patiently on a bench with mummy and daddy, content in knowing that she could meet the hedgehogs at the end of the talk when the man brought them round to the crowd. For Cal this wasn’t good enough. He was off trying to join the talk (perhaps planning a take over in his mind), leading to Mrs L chasing after him to stop the disruption to proceedings. Cal wanted to see the hedgehogs “now!”. In protest and perhaps frustration, if not with a slight desire to entertain the crowd (which worked!) Cal proceeded to sit down in the nearest muddy patch he could find. He found this hilarious, as did all of the people sitting nearby. My thoughts at the time – “I’m so pleased I brought spare clothes with us” and “boys will be boys”.
It’s this final thought, ‘boys will be boys’, that really got us thinking about this apparent innate DNA. We all know that there are clear behavioural patterns associated with the growing boy vs the growing girl. Even the draw to certain toys, although obviously also demonstrating an interest in the toys they didn’t immediately pick up or have a preference for. What is it about the DNA that encourages these approaches to activities? Boys preferring mess, mud and noise vs girls preferring quieter more delicate approaches to an activity. We’re obviously not saying that boys and girls aren’t capable of doing the same things, but on this occasion, alongside other experiences of our son and daughter being together, have made us really think about what it is that encourages behaviour when, as parents, our approaches have been very similar. Perhaps an unconscious bias to our son and daughter that we haven’t noticed but the ever astute baby and then toddler, picks up and drives forward in their own personal style.
An interesting topic and something we’ll encounter further, and no doubt blog about again soon.
We’d love to hear your examples of this – similar aged children of opposite sex. We can’t be the only ones to have observed this?