As Max grows, there are a whole new set of comparisons to draw against Claudia. The one giving us grey hairs right now is that, while she was a demanding infant but super-sweet, biddable, careful toddler, he’s… not. Well, sweet, yes, absolutely; he is still King of Cuddles, cheerful and affectionate and utterly delicious. But biddable? Careful? Ha. No, he’s the kid who wants what he wants, and will move heaven and earth (or at least a whole lot of furniture) to get it, without paying any heed to risks or warnings.
“Oh,” people love to comment, “he’s a BOY. Now you see the difference.”
You reckon? Hm. Okay. You may have a point. After all… he’s obsessed with anything with wheels. (Motorbikes get him particularly excited.) Also balls. Tractors! Machinery! BOY STUFF!
He’s also way more into dolls and stuffed animals than Claudia was at this age. And less into building blocks.
He’s better at playing by himself. And while I’ve always been told boys would require a whole lot more time running around outside than girls, I simply haven’t seen any difference compared with Claudia at this age.
And the biddable thing? Well, my friend Pip has twins. E was a placid infant, while B was a shark baby, like Claudia: got to keep moving. Very demanding. Only started to enjoy life once he got mobile – like Claudia. But then became a super-sweet, eager to please toddler, whereas E would just do what E wanted to do, regardless.
They’re both boys. And for that matter, they’re twins. You can’t explain the difference away by gender, nor by first child/second child syndrome. They’re individuals, with individual personalities. It’s as simple as that. I’d really love it if people would apply that pretty obvious insight to my kids, also.
Especially because, as Terrence Real, who’s a couples’ therapist, says, when you take the whole range of human capabilities and qualities, and you say one half is masculine, and one half is feminine, and only boys can be masculine, and only girls can be feminine, then everybody loses, because you’re asking everyone to cut off and deny a part of their humanity.
(from this great interview with Judy Y Chu, who has studied boys’ behaviour in the early school years)