Boys Vs. Girls

by Stefani on 12-February-2008

Backyard Valentine

Taa Daaaaaaaah!!!!!

At this very moment, buzzing away in the nether regions of my computer is a spanking new hard drive! At last, I’m back in business! No more locking up. No more inexplicable flickerings and flutterings. My computer and I are not only on speaking terms again, but we’re up late, swapping stories, just like old times. Fantastic!

It’s going to take me forever to catch up with all the goings on over on my Blogline feeds, so bear with me.

Being computer-less left me with some spare time (tongue firmly in cheek) for pondering the big issues (read: festering over stuff). Being close to Valentine’s Day and all, I’ve been thinking a lot about the messages my boys are getting about love, what it means, how it happens, how one behaves toward the opposite sex, etc.

I have to say, I think it’s a confusing world out there for a boy, and getting more confusing every day.

Here’s a couple of examples:

1) Is it just me, or has Valentine’s Day gone from this sweet little homemade construction paper/ crayon card-making day to the biggest guilt ridden, passive aggressive ploy for gifts ever?

I had the radio on today, while I made the boys lunch, and I’m not kidding, I heard commercial after commercial that made me want to scream, “NO NO NO! What the dickens is WRONG with you people?”

One warned men that all the friends of their wives and girlfriends were waiting to see what he’d get her. It admonished them to not be known as the loser, “be the guy who gets her a diamond for Valentine’s Day”.

What?

Another one talked about sending a personalized teddy bear to her office so that her coworkers would be jealous.

Huh?

I don’t even know what to say about that.

2) Does it bother you when kids are divided up to play games, boys vs. girls? It never bothered me before, when I was a kid, or when I was a teacher. Now that I’m raising boys though, trying to help them grow into honorable, valiant men, it just seems wrong to teach them, even subtly, that girls are the enemy. I have a hard time swallowing, “it’s only a game.”

Apparently, some little ears picked up on me discussing this with his daddy after church one Sunday. A few weeks later, when I picked up the oldest from Sunday school, his teacher said, “Let me tell you what your son said to me today.”

:: braces herself ::

“When it was time to divide up into teams for our game, he refused to play. He said that it wasn’t right to pit the boys and girls against each other all the time. He said that boys and girls should be working together, and you know what? He’s right. We divided up the teams differently.”

Now ordinarily I don’t condone refusing to do something your teacher asks of you, but I have to tell you, I was so proud of my kid. He’s actually kind of shy. He hates to stand out or draw attention to himself, so I know it was hard for him to stand up for what he thought was right. I don’t know if his stand will make any lasting changes, but I’m just so glad to see that he’s not afraid to speak his mind when he thinks that something isn’t right.

I think he’s going to make one fine Valentine someday.

Annika February 12, 2008 at 11:05 pm

That would make me so mad! It isn’t “just a game,” it is setting up how children will interact with each other their entire lives. Good for you and your son for speaking your minds! (Of course, I am a trouble-maker and condone standing up to authority at every turn, but I definitely like seeing it done so respectfully.)

OMSH February 12, 2008 at 11:59 pm

My son will never do well at Girls -v- Boys because we tell him that girls always go first.

Um. He’d always lose.

Kristy February 13, 2008 at 2:51 am

I am so glad that we don’t go for all the whole Valentine in schools thing over here.I love the secrecy and anticipation of real Valentine giving.Someone expressing how they really feel about someone else.

meg February 13, 2008 at 4:29 am

Aw come on — you wouldn’t just *kill* to be the girl in the office that received the coveted personalized teddy bear?! 😉

emily February 13, 2008 at 4:49 am

have you heard the radio commercial for the company that delivers personalized ladies pajamas on valentine’s day? i kid you not.

and your boy. a good egg. with a good mama.

Jade February 13, 2008 at 5:15 am

I agree, Valentines is way over done! We’ve got our construction paper and paints out as I type. 😉

Diane February 13, 2008 at 5:31 am

That is soooo great! Good work, mama! Glad you’re back in the saddle here. WHAT is that beautiful blooming heart at the top?!

Tracy February 13, 2008 at 5:39 am

Indeed. Good for him, both for believing in that, and for standing up for it.

erin February 13, 2008 at 6:04 am

exactly why i am against single sex high schools. it is not the real world.

Amy February 13, 2008 at 6:16 am

I so agree with you.

And WOW! That’s so impressive that he would say something!

kirsten February 13, 2008 at 6:26 am

aw, what a brave boy!

natasha s February 13, 2008 at 7:24 am

ooooo what a great shot.perfect for valentines day.
How great that your son stood up for what he believes in.That is something to be really proud of.

leslie February 13, 2008 at 7:40 am

yikes! what a great subject. i have so many different opinions on this and they change from time to time too. as far as valentines, i can’t believe how commercialized it is too. just like christmas and birthdays, i think girls should be taught it’s the thought that counts. period. a little off the subject, but similar, i read somewhere that the new trend is giving “push gifts” which is a really expensive gift a husband has to give his wife after she gives birth, after she PUSHES out the baby (now what about the gal who has a c-section??) it’s not like a nice card or flowers, it’s like a car or a diamond ring! big stuff! the women in the article said they had done all the work being pregnant and deserved an expensive gift. man, i was just floored by it. what kind of marriage is that? men and women are different, yes, but they should be a team if they want to make it for the long haul. that means they have a goal for their family and/or relationship that they work on together… oh this is getting long. see what i mean? i go all over the place with this one!! this is why i love your blog, you bring up the boy stuff to help me with the girl stuff, we can do this together stef!!

🙂

Jen (sewandsox) February 13, 2008 at 7:41 am

This story is wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

My coworker’s wife is having a baby and another female coworker mentioned to him that he HAD to buy her an expensive piece of jewelry for when the baby is born. I had heard of new father’s doing this before but I couldn’t believe that this has become a tradition. It is a shame that every special moment in our lives is becoming an obligation to purchase a large gift.

I will be happy with a “happy valentines day” greeting from my husband and maybe a kiss! No cards, no candy, no flowers, thank you.

Congratulations on raising such a wonderful boy. You should be very proud!

Sarah Jackson February 13, 2008 at 7:53 am

Hooray for him and for you for giving him the tools to stand up for what he believes in! The whole boy/girl thing for children drives me nuts. Both of my daughters have boys as their best friends, and my son’s closest friend is a girl. We’ve never believed in making distinctions.

As for V-day itself, we do homemade valentines for friends and each other. No gifts, no jewels, none of that. I don’t need my husband to spend money on me to prove he loves me and I certainly don’t need him to prove it to anyone else. Okay. Off the soapbox now.

Amber February 13, 2008 at 8:12 am

Yay, what a wonderful post! I notice these changes, too. I have always felt that Valentines was some sort of joke—that presenting a big gift one day of the year doesn’t really prove or solve anything. It’s a fun craft day for my kids and a day to enjoy chocolate, as far as I’m concerned.

I noticed that it’s becoming more common to split teams up into coed teams rather than the traditional boys v. girls tradition that I grew up with. But still, that splitting up by gender is so inherent to our culture—–it does start young…

I love the way you describe your parenting of your boys–honorable and valiant. Love it.

miss chris February 13, 2008 at 9:23 am

This post made me smile. Thanks. Your son will make a wonderful valentine someday!

Not expecting presents here either. Although I did start a tradition years ago of buying my girls certain books they *really* *really* wanted because they LOVE to read. XO

Maureen February 13, 2008 at 9:42 am

Wow! Good for him… and you’re both right. Pitting girls against the boys is not fair, or right.

Lori February 13, 2008 at 9:48 am

isn’t it great when they reflect our *best* moments? :^)

you’re growing some great future husbands and people there. xoxo

Sarah February 13, 2008 at 10:39 am

Well, Jack is not really big enough yet for those particular issues to affect us, but the boy girl thing has driven me crazy for the last three years.

I swear one time he was playing with a doll, and someone took it away from him and actually told him to play with a *boy* toy and handed him a car/truck/whatever instead.

I just hate the whole thing. Boy clothes, girl clothes, boy toys, girl toys, my SIL even thinks there are cartoons for boys and cartoons for girls! Oy.

Molly February 13, 2008 at 11:03 am

Way to go! I’m glad to hear it, though it drives me nutty sometimes when students refuse to comply. But this kind of objection was good, and that teacher was obviously not in a state of frazzled tiredness, which happens oh so often in education, that she could hear what your son was saying. 🙂

In my own family, gender roles are all wonky and I love it. My mother changes the flat tires, climbs onto the roof to nail down shingles. My father does the laundry and the dishes and the vacuuming. And in my immediate family, the one that is me plus husband, my husband insists I do things with him, so I can learn too, even if I’m feeling awfully lazy. 🙂 It’s a good thing.

Molly February 13, 2008 at 11:03 am

Way to go! I’m glad to hear it, though it drives me nutty sometimes when students refuse to comply. But this kind of objection was good, and that teacher was obviously not in a state of frazzled tiredness, which happens oh so often in education, that she could hear what your son was saying. 🙂

In my own family, gender roles are all wonky and I love it. My mother changes the flat tires, climbs onto the roof to nail down shingles. My father does the laundry and the dishes and the vacuuming. And in my immediate family, the one that is me plus husband, my husband insists I do things with him, so I can learn too, even if I’m feeling awfully lazy. 🙂 It’s a good thing.

molly February 13, 2008 at 12:49 pm

We’ve never been much into Valentine’s Day, precisely for the reason that it is just another commercial holiday. This year I was interested in finding out a little more about who St. Valentine was and the origins of the holiday. history.com has some good information, but still pushes the whole giving thing. My children have been happily cutting hearts (Aidan was thrilled when I showed him to to cut a chain of hearts) but are not really interested in mass-producing in order to hand out Valentines tomorrow. I’m not pushing them either. We did peel our broken crayons last night and plan on making some melted crayons today (Anne’s are so cute with just the two colors per crayon).

We haven’t really encountered the boy-girl separation, but good for your little boy taking a stand on an issue. Lots of xoxo’s for him.

kristin February 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm

yes! yes! yes! yes! yes!

i too want my little man to be sensitive and respectful while confident in his manhood…what a balance when it is achieved.

beautiful story.

glad for your computer goodness.

Taimarie February 13, 2008 at 2:21 pm

What a sweet boy you are raising. I love that little story.

Aimee Greeblemonkey February 13, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Your oldest RULES. I *hate* girls vs boys (Have you read Raising Cain?)

Oh, and also, hubby and I are completely blowing off Valentine’s Day this year. It’s a really stupid holiday. We love each other really well all year long, thank you vera much, Hallmark and Debeers.

sjsd February 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

that’s fantastic.

good for him + way to go momma.

i try to speak my mind as often as possible, even if it is just to myself, knowing that my children will hear… to think and not just accept things as fact or right, but to decide for themselves and perhaps disagree….it’s okay.

Sandra February 13, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Love this, good on your boy for speaking out, it would have taken a lot of courage. As a teacher I prefer mixed team as it leads to a better balance. Valentines Day does not seem to be a big deal here, cardboard hearts and chocolate is all that is around.

Julie @ Letter9 February 14, 2008 at 6:07 am

That’s awesome. What a great kid. Isn’t it nice to know that we do have an impact on how our kids grow up? I often find myself thinking of my job as a parent as one in which I am teaching my son (I know, he’s only 7.5 months old) how to be a member of adult society — how to follow rules, how to be respectful, how to be caring, how to be the kind of person who cares how teams are divided up. It’s a good way to think about it, for me, anyway.

kcb February 14, 2008 at 6:08 am

Good for both of you, and for his teacher for respecting his point of view!

Eren February 14, 2008 at 6:38 am

Here, here…that is exactly why we made all 46 of our Valentine’s by hand. Again, well said my friend.

Stephanie February 14, 2008 at 6:42 am

Wow, what a great sense of self that he could respectfully assert his views to his teacher–and that he changed her mind.

DH and I have never really bought into the Valentine thing, but I did get him a funny card and a box of Hershey’s kisses today–an impulse thing. Took him totally by surprise, which wouldn’t have been possible if we’d been trying to one-up each other.

Cheryl February 14, 2008 at 11:46 am

I love that you are raising your boys with a consciousness to these “holiday” issues. My daughter is seven and I often feel that we make tough choices in regard to not just going with the status quo and trying to instill thoughtfulness rather than the lemming mentality that seems so common in our society.

What I am basically getting to is finding out how old are your boys and how do you feel about arranged marriages? I’m just kidding. No, seriously, I really wanted to say that hearing how you are raising your boys gives me greater hope for our children’s future.

Lynn February 14, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Good for him!

alice February 15, 2008 at 9:27 am

I love this story! I think you are totally correct on both your points.

Lisa Clarke February 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

Nope. Not just you. Those Valentine’s Day commercials make me cringe. We exchanged cards. I made slice & bake heart cookies, and whipped up a batch of pink heart-shaped pancakes for supper. Homemade and low-key – just how we like it.

The other thing that gets me? All the candy the boys bring home from their card exchange parties at school. It’s like a mini-Halloween. It’s a lot less of a homespun holiday these days than I would like it to be.

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