Boys Vs Girls, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures

So my son says he wants to be a boxer now. He is four.

He runs around the house punching the air with his tiny fists.


This is not what I expected back when I had a baby.

You see, my best friend and I had our first babies roughly around the same time.

She had a girl. I had a boy.

I was fairly confident that I knew everything about everything when it came to raising children.

As new moms, we heard tons about “gender stereotyping” and how that was, like, bad and stuff. Saying things like “boys will be boys” was old-fashioned and frowned upon. We were modern! We would never say such a thing.

So to start with, we dressed them in neutral outfits until they could pick for themselves.

Her daughter picked out clothes with squeals of excitement.


She was attracted to pink, sparkles and rainbows. And ideally all three in the same outfit.

My son, on the other hand, could not care less.


It isn’t that he avoids pink. It isn’t that he avoids sparkles. He just doesn’t care either way.

But it wasn’t just their wardrobe. It was toys too.

She bought her daughter a toy truck.

She played with it sometimes.


Only rarely as a truck.

I bought my son a doll and a wooden doll cradle.

He played with the cradle sometimes.


Only rarely as a cradle.

And it wasn’t just the toys. It was everything.

We wanted to open the world up for them. We sheltered them from messages that put value on their interests or skills based on gender expectations.

And they do have skills.

Her daughter can turn anything into a baby.

My son can turn anything into a weapon.

Then we had more babies.

She had another girl. I had another boy.


I thought surely her second daughter will be into trucks and surely my second son will like dolls.

Nope.

As they grew, I watched as her girls mostly played well together.

And how my boys mostly didn’t.

She reassured me that it wasn’t anything I did wrong. And I reassured myself by begrudgingly muttering “boys will be boys” when I was sure that nobody could hear me.

And then, two years ago, she had a third.

It was a boy this time.

I wondered what that little boy would be like growing up with two nurturing sisters and all the dolls and sparkles in the world.

I admit, despite my experience, I was a little afraid that he would tenderly burp dolls and share and always say please. I was afraid that he would never, ever turn a spoon into a catapult. Or throw sand. Or be aggressive in any way.

Then last week, there he was, running around the house, punching the air with his tiny fists.


And this is exactly as I expected.

About the writer

Amber Dusick writes and illustrates the blog. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures in order to avoid going insane.  She is either brilliant or just a mom. Depending on the day.

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Emily Nichole Lanier 2 years ago

Haha !!! Exactly !!! Loved reading this …

Renée Gilbert 2 years ago

Ah kids. hahahaha You never know what they'll do next. :)

Emily 3 years ago

I despise gender assignment. Parents don’t even know they are doing it. I haveI witnessed a mom saying “Oh, my son is just drawn to guns and trucks” as her preschool son takes a truck and says, “Truck, mama!” and she says, “Oh, that is AWESOME!!!! Good job!!!!” Dolls don’t get the positive reinforcement.

My son has loved pink and tutus and sparkles since forever. I even made him a tiered skirt once, because he asked me, while I was making some for myself. His first two bikes were pink and purple, because that’s the colors he picked out. His favorite slippers are pink hannah montana boots, even though he’s never even seen HM.

Since he started first grade, his favorite color has changed from pink to orange, but only in front of people he knows don’t approve. He has become less vocal about his “girly” likes because the kids (boys and girls) tease him about it.

He rarely plays guns; partly because he has nobody to play with. Yes he can be vioent and destructive, but he also loves to cuddle with his baby brother.

Both genders display both gender traits. The ones we nurture (even unwittingly) are the ones that become prominant.

Lana 3 years ago

I have two boys aged 2 yrs seven months and I have a almost 10 month old. No girls. yet. But I come from a large family and we have always had very gentle boys and they are easy and laid back and while they love a wrestle, sometimes throw things and often turn any object into a gun they’ve also been very loving with their teddies and each has had a doll that they put to bed and loved a lot. Its possible for them to be gentle souls AND bolshy grubby loud and aggressive. Our parents with girls in the family have had exactly the same from their daughters plus way worse tantrums. So it’s just up to the personality. But they saying isn’t a saying for nothing.

prescription glasses ray ban 3 years ago

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Mercy 3 years ago

Oh the differences between boys and girls. My son will lead his sisters in the wildest of games, but left alone, the girls will play calmly with a tea set and dolls. Though my son does want a doll for his birthday. Now to convince daddy that it’s ok … :)

The Sadder But Wiser Girl 3 years ago

I thought I was the world’s biggest Crappy Pictures Fan (I think I should get an award for that), WHY have I never seen this post before? HA HA HA! I love it. Especially the baby spatula and the jail for bad guys… :-) Thank you Scary Mommy for reposting this.

As kids, it was just me and my sister. I can’t say we were boxed in by any gender stereotypes! We played with everything, dolls, action figures, Barbies, matchbox cars. We watched too much tv when we were kids so whenever we played pretend it was whatever we were watching, usually the A-Team or the Dukes of Hazzard. Yeah, we were weird kids.

Now I have a boy and a girl. The girl is into everything sparkly and princess and the boy is into everything avengers and transformers. We didn’t encourage this. Though I will say I was very pleased when one of her 5,000 costume choices this year was Captain America. :-)

Bread 3 years ago

“I admit, despite my experience, I was a little afraid that he would tenderly burp dolls and share and always say please. I was afraid that he would never, ever turn a spoon into a catapult. Or throw sand. Or be aggressive in any way.”
My son does all of these things. He breastfeeds his dolls and turns everything into weapons. He wasn’t asked, “do you want a blue shirt?” He was shown a pink and a blue shirt, and when asked to choose, he usually chooses the pink. But his favorite pants have a big rocket on them.
Have to say I’m really disappointed with this one. Gender stereotyping is probably closer to my heart than most peoples’, but it should still a bigger deal than it is.
Boys will be whatever you raise them to be. That’s all.

Sarah 3 years ago

I am so terrified that we will have a (girly) girl someday, because I was never into girl things, and will have no idea what to do. We have a one year old boy so far, and I feel totally at home with him and all the things he likes to do.

n 3 years ago

i have 3 girls, then a boy, then more girls, then another boy. my second youngest daughter has down syndrome, but she is still every inch a girl. i was very surprised to discover how much she likes pretty dresses, sparkles, pink and purple, and other pretty things. she loves mermaids. even though her communication skills are very limited, she knows how to say ‘barbie’, ‘princess’, and ‘beautiful’. she can’t TELL us what her favourite colour is, but when i showed her both pairs of her shoes once, to see which she wanted to wear, she very decidedly chose the pink ones, and threw the black and silver ones back into the closet. recently,when her younger sister came out of her room in the morning, with a side pony-tail that draped very sleekly and attractively along her neck, our daughter with down syndrome definitely noticed and was interested enough to actually put a sentence together. she said,’ very beautiful. i like your hair’. but did either of my sons or their father notice? not at all. all of my kids have played with all of their siblings’ toys; i don’t think anyone believes that boys will never play with dolls, or that girls will never play with guns or trucks… but it is the overall picture that shows how much of a difference there is between girls and boys. i took some child development and psychology classes in college, even though they were not related to my major, and i was totally brain-washed into accepting the whole ‘it’s all about the roles society assigns each gender’ theory… until i had my first son. my girls had all loved their father and wanted to be with him and play with him, etc, but from the time my son could crawl and walk, and exercise his own autonomy to any degree, he absolutely adored my husband, and wanted to go everywhere with him, and do everything he did. he is now 16, and his father is still his absolute favourite person in the world. he is so much more attached to his father and identifies with him so much more than any of our girls do. it is not because we trained him that way, at all. he always played with his sisters; the older ones when he was really little, then the two immediately younger than him. but what he really really wanted was a brother to play with, even though he was very interested in our youngest daughters when they were born and was happy to spend time with them. when he was little, i never bought any guns or other ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive’ toys. he didn’t know there were such things as toy guns till he was about 6 years old, and went to a school friend’s house. but once he discovered them, he was completely enthralled, and he played guns constantly after that. by contrast, even though all of our younger girls are completely aware of the existence of guns (and we now have a significant number of both toy ones and real ones in our house) none of them have shown any interest in playing with any of them, at home or at the shooting range. but our four-year-old loves to go shooting with his dad and his brother. he also loves for them to tease him, torment him and wrestle with him. now that my husband and older son are actually older, they’re not as interested in those things, anymore, and it is my youngest who intigates most of the rough-housing, while my youngest daughter (who is only a few years older) hates to be hung up-side down or thrown around the room. she wants her fathers attention in much more quiet, conversational ways.

Sally 4 years ago

I have twin boys, and I agree that MOST boys will be boys. But some boys will NOT be boys. One of mine loves pink, sparkly, princessy, anything that makes him feel pretty. He takes his baby doll and her bottle to school almost every day and has VERY specific clothing preferences, right down to having a favorite pair of underwear. His brother has probably never expressed an opinion about clothing in his life. Kids just like what they like.

Heather 4 years ago

Not only did I love the article, but I also loved reading about everyone else’s LIFE! Great way to wake up in the morning…already laughing and smiling!
My situation is Boy, Girl, Boy. My oldest boy (5.5yo) loves sports!!! Everything is a hockey stick and ball, or ball and basket, or whatever he can think of to make into a game. We’ve tossed stuffed animals back and forth, used empty bottles for bowling pins, he’ll even grab a book but then just to use it to knock something over!
My girl (almost 4 yo) will play the sports, but she loves to be the cheerleader. She loves to dance, and sing, and do puzzles. She loves pink and purple. Recently I bought her a journal and she can’t wait to draw in it! She carries it around with her retractable crayons. So cute! But do NOT play with her hair! Oh, and she screams when she’s been instigated which happens a lot!
My youngest boy (almost 2yo) hits, kicks, screams, and throws things! When he decides to play “nicely” he’ll look at books (usually ones that make sounds), play hockey and ball, and loves the tickle game!
None of my children like to snuggle that much or lay around for that matter. Jumping, running, making as much as noise as possible, and climbing seems to be what my house is made of! Sometimes the noise is overwhelming but then amidst all of it you hear the laughs, the giggles! Its totally worth it!

Alena Rose Solenne 4 years ago

My husband was obsessed (but obsessed) with guns from toddlerhood all the way through high school. He now does energy work, and works with crystals and singing bowls. He’s one of the most gentle men I’ve ever met. Do not despair.

JulieBouf 4 years ago

Oh my goodness, I feel your pain. When we were little, my little brother convinced half the world that he was a 5yo black belt. He had every weapon imaginable. He would only let me watch tv in his bedroom if I let him hit me first. I was convinced that it was my parents’s fault, that they gave him whatever he wanted and promoted his crazy pro-fighting ways.

My son is sweet and cuddly and adorable. But he is also obsessed with guns. He’s going to be 3 years old in 2 months. We don’t have a toy weapon in the house (ie. one marketed and sold specifically to be a weapon) – so he shoots us all with his fingers. Cracks up and pretends to die when he finally got us to shoot him back.Boys will be boys…I grudgingly suppose.

Bridget 4 years ago

so funny! I have a boy a girl and 2 more boys. While my daughter definitely plays rough and tumble with her older brother she is so hilariously girly. She loves tutus and dance and pink and purple. and red too. I think it’s fun that she can be into hair and sparkles but also gets to play wrestling. The boys are sweet and lovely as well, you know, when they are not wrestling and running and jumping off the furniture. But since they were young, they definitely have some clear differences!

gbsh 4 years ago

I was always a tomboy, never a girly-girl, and I remember chafing at gender stereotypes, but it’s helpful as a parent to know that it’s ok for some traits to be more nature than nurture!

Just as it would have been torturous had my mother insisted I play Barbies, it would be pointless for me to convince my clothing-obsessed toddler that she doesn’t want to wear pink sparkles. Also futile: convincing her brother he’s not wearing pink sparkles to match.

Not everything comes from exposure– to TV, ads, expectations, or anything else. I’m comforted by research that shows BABY MONKEYS prefer different toys by gender (cars and balls for boys, dishes and dolls for girls) and they definitely haven’t been watching too many cartoons! (Here’s one study; it’s been replicated in various versions: http://www.x-gender.net/biogender/alexander-etal-02.pdf)

JoAnna 4 years ago

Hmmm, well, anecdata doesn’t count for too much kwim? The thing is that boys and girls are given lots of messages about what to like and who to be from birth, whether mom and dad do the talking or not. Children are who they are, and if your boys want to fight and your girls like to play dolls, that’s totally fine… but let’s not extrapolate that onto everyone, kwim? Because my little girl will be fighting with her tiny fists and HIYAHHing everything to protect her baby dinosaur from the big bad monsters coming to eat it. :)

Ivy 4 years ago

I am in exactly the same position, four boys, one girl (the fourth). Except that her girliness is very present. She does the boy stuff with the boys, but when she’s left alone she is VERY girly. It’s funny, the whole nurture vs. nature, and all that. It’s just one of the reasons I love having a large family, watching it all play out, enjoying both the predictability and the curve balls.

IndoJen 4 years ago

On nature vs nurture. I never let my son have toy guns, so he “shoots” me with the cushions from the sofa. Not sure if my daughter will be any different ’cause she’s too little, but there are some things they just pick up (I guess from school?)…

Sarah 4 years ago

I was raised with a brother and many boy cousins. I played with matchbox cars and played sports. Everyone said I was a tom boy. However, by my teenage years I felt out of sorts and went super girly because it felt right. She may be acting like that because it’s all she knows, or that may be her. Either way, I’m sure it doesn’t matter. Just wanted to let you know she is probably just a well-rounded girl who can hold her own & have four boys to protect her forever…. that’s a blessing!

Stephanie 4 years ago

My 3.5 yr old son (the middle son) is currently catapulting a dead fly with the diaper wipe lid (push button, lid pops up, zoom goes gross dead bug), the oldest and youngest boys are playing slam the closet door and giggling maniacally. Any moment someone is going to randomly punch someone else and run away cackling… If I can survive the grocery bill I am pretty sure the medical expenses are going to bankrupt me!

Ashley Van Otterloo 4 years ago

I tend to agree about the real difference. What causes me to twitch is that people mindlessly accept that the differences are what toy cooperations/etc have invented to line their own pockets. Sure, acknowledge there’s a difference…but don’t disengage your brain after that point, you know? One kind of limiting is just as bad as the other, IMO. Kids are smart, and they do catch cultural “norms”, whether they’re fabricated by greedy people or not.

Ashley Van Otterloo 4 years ago

Someone forgot to tell my girls not to play war, cast evil spells on their siblings, wrestle or pretend to be zombies. 😛 Whoops. Guess they’re not normal now. ;oP

Jack 4 years ago

I am anti gender neutral. It irks me for a million different reasons not the least of which is that it is nonsense someone created to make themselves feel less inadequate.
There are real difference between boys and girls and that is ok. Adults screw this up by trying to assign values where none are needed.

End of rant.

elaine 4 years ago

why are they so loud? Because they are! why must they run everywhere? Because they do! why must they jump from one couch to another? Because they do! I have two boys 6 and 4 and they spend their days wrestling, shooting each other with imaginary guns, air punching, running around, jumping, screaming and in general making more noise than a battalion of soldiers. Seriously. I do not permit guns in my house either and the oldest spawn builds them out of anything including legos, kinex and anything else he can get his hands on. If there are no building tools handy he looks for the closest toilet paper roll. Where he picked up the idea of guns I have no idea. It certainly wasn’t at home. The youngest spawn has a scream that can pierce ear drums. I suppose its all for self defence. Sigh, some days I wonder why or why couldn’t I have had girls. But then I get bowled over by my wonderful spawn and get smothered with kisses and tickles and wouldn’t change it for the world. maybe turn the volume down a bit. maybe.

Marta 4 years ago

LOVE. I tried to do the same thing with my son and keep it gender neutral. But really in the end its all fighting and bakugans. His sister’s not old enough yet, but so far at 11 months she is fascinated with all of HIS toys.

Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) 4 years ago

I do love this so much. I was a tomboy and my sister a proper girlie girl … I hated my dad for never letting me have a train set or a toy gun (it wasn’t for moral reasons either)

Very cute!

TheUrbanMum 4 years ago

happy to oblige with a laugh…except I wasn’t joking!xx

Kristen 4 years ago

I have FOUR boys and ONE girl, but I might as well as have five boys. My daughter, sure, loves sparkles and pink and rainbows… but usually can be found driving cars around (crashing them) and fighting with her brothers. She’s the fourth of five. I had hoped for a girly-girl… but no… I was not blessed with a girl girl. Instead, she’s wielding a Nerf gun and shooting Zombie Ghosts beside her brothers. At least they’re not fighting right now, right? Bright side…

Robin | Farewell, Stranger 4 years ago

Oh man, exactly!! My son is 3 and he is boy, through and through. Nature vs. nurture – bah! Nature. Mother Nature wins.

Tony 4 years ago

Boys will fight with anything. The rest of the family is helping unload groceries, while two of my boys are have a sword fighting duel with unopened tubes of Ritz crackers. It never stops… :)

Molly 4 years ago

That sounds like my 5 year old girl. She her favorite toys are trucks and dinosaurs, but she wants to wear a pink dress every day.

debs 4 years ago

My daughter is also incapable of sitting still, getting off furniture without jumping, loud etc. Her favourite toys are cars and she rarely plays with dolls. But now, at 5 years old, she has changed her favourite colour(s) to “purple and pink” and has worn mostly pink t shirts this summer. Oh dear, the girlyness has started….

rosa 4 years ago

I love this post! I can tottaly relate. My oldest is a girl and I have a nephew who is one year younger and I never could relate to my sister’s struggles until I had my son.

Cheryl @ Coffee with Cheryl 4 years ago

I have two boys – 5yo and 6mo.

My oldest is ALL boy, and has never been much for babies, until his younger brother was born…now Kyle is HIS baby.
He still wants to beat up the whole world, tho.

My younger son is WAY more demanding and more easily upset than his older brother was at his age. Please. Find. Me. Some. Earplugs. Preferably ones that can keep out the volume of noise the sun would make if it exploded.

Jill 4 years ago

A friend of mine had banned toy weapons, so her son turned his penis into a gun (yes, his penis) and shot his sister with it.

When I heard this story, I laughed so hard I cried.

PS – -My daughter prefers sparkly princess dresses, but she can still deliver a solid gut punch to her older brother if she thinks he’s being a little too disrespectful.

Claire 4 years ago

TheUrbanMum, you are so cool
“Me – I do my nails and pray for deliverance”, just had me laughing so loudly my dog ran out the room barking

As “Crappy Pictures” I am so a stalker from now on .

Twinisms 4 years ago

I have boy/girl twins & another set of boy/boy twins. Yeah, boys destroy everything and girls are, like, nice and shit. Too bad my ration is 3:1 instead of 1:3. At least I can always get into the bathroom. It just always smells like b.o. and urine.

xallanthia 4 years ago

My mom has a hilarious story about this. My brother is 2 years younger than I am. She raised us with NO GUNS. I didn’t know what a gun was until I went to preschool. She also bought my brother barbies and me hot wheels, as well as the barbies for me and the hot wheels for bro. I played with barbies more and he played with hot wheels more, but we did play with both, often together.

Anyway, this story takes place Christmas when my brother was 2.5 years old (I was 4.5). That year, each kid was to bring a canned good to donate at the manger scene, and each kid was given a small rolled-up certificate as a thank you.

I took a certificate and walked calmly back to my seat.

My brother took a certificate, stuck it on his forefinger, and shot random members of the congregation with his “gun” on his way back to his.

Mom gave up on banning guns after that.

mom taxi julie 4 years ago

LOVE IT! Although my oldest (girl) and youngest (boy) fight the most. I had two girls and then the boy and I learned real quick that when they say boys and girls are a lot differently they weren’t kidding!!

Sarah 4 years ago

My girls fight like screaming hyenas, but other than that, I say, “Right on!”

TheUrbanMum 4 years ago

TheEldestSon- Lego. TopGear. Pushing/ pulling everything in his path. Hates clean, clothes, body, teeth.

TheYoungSon – Cuddly soft toys. Hugs. Sweet smelling. Loves new clothes.

Together – They fight. Cook. Yell. Read. Cry. Hit. Hold hands. Chase the cat.

Me – I do my nails and pray for deliverance .

Great post. Thanks. X

Yuliya 4 years ago

Would you consider re-working my life (or a post) into a crappy pictures post? PLEASE?

karen somethingorother 4 years ago

I LOVE Amber! No wait…I LURV her crappy pictures SO MUCH that I’ve actually started to playback my heinous life moments in my head in crappy pictures style. This way they seem funny rather than tragic! Hooray! I must save my pennies to beg her one day to guest post on my blog because she is FA-MOUS!

Mother Ruckus 4 years ago

I taught elementary school for a number of years, and I totally agree – boys will be boys. We can try to be gender neutral, but in the end – the boys are going to make guns out of everything and the girls are going to make babies out of everything.

Victoria KP 4 years ago

There is so much truth in this. I have 2 boys and my little bleeding heart would never buy them toy guns. So they make them out of paper towel rolls, legos, chicken nuggets… I give up.

Amy 4 years ago

I’ve got two boys. The youngest one would play with dolls, if there was also a truck involved so he could run them over.
Great post! LMAO, because this is exactly what I have experienced with my boys over the past 11 years. Sigh…….

Jodee 4 years ago

My two year old loves to cuddle his “babies” right before he flings them across the room and tackles them!

Cathy 4 years ago

I have three boys and can attest to the constant fighting and the ability of boys to be able to make a weapon out of anything…Absolutely anything.

Jordon 4 years ago

I love this post and I love your blog. I am the mother of two young, wrestling, ninja fighting, sword carrying, wannabe Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader boys :) Im glad Im not alone. Thank you!

cindy 4 years ago

I’m having my first son and I am a girly girl who grew up with a house full of sisters. I am so nervous if I am going to know how to play with my boy! trucks? head butting??

Crabby Mommy 4 years ago

This is a brilliant post. My son watches mostly PBS and Nick Jr., so he doesn’t do the weapons thing (yet). I haven’t specifically tried to expose him only to gender neutral toys because he is kind of picky about toys. I just buy whatever he likes, which so far has been cars. Lots and lots of cars – preferably Hot Wheels. If he wanted a doll, I would buy it for him, but a doll doesn’t have wheels that allows him to fling it off the furniture onto the floor. And OMG the noise – why are little boys so loud? and must they run everywhere? and jump from one couch to the other? why won’t he sit down??

I’m exhausted. And that’s just one boy. My pediatrician has four boys. I don’t know how he and his wife (also a pediatrician) do it.

Nicole 4 years ago

HAHA!!! I’m a mom of two girls who then had a little boy. He’ll be a year old soon, and we’ve already seen how much of a BOY he is. I know experts will argue that I’ve subconsiously treated him different than I treated my girls … wait and see what happens when those “experts” have their own kids!!!

Fenny 4 years ago

I have an older brother and wanted to be just like him. Fortunately, my parents we happy to let us get on with things. When I was born, he had a baby dolly in a little bassinet so he could play baby while Mum looked after me. I had dolls, but had no interest in them. When I was 3 I got my first Action Man (GI Joe), which I still have, 43 years later. I hate pink. Pretty much everything I wear is blue, or purple, cos it goes with blue. I did play with my Tiny Tears, who was named after a baby who stayed with us for a while when we were small, but my Action Man was always the best.

Christi 4 years ago

Baby spatula! I love it! My baby girl is almost a year old and she is already snuggling and cuddling with things. Of course, she likes to hug the usual things: stuffed animal, dolls, her sister, her mommy and daddy. But just yesterday, I witnessed her hugging the tv remote!

Rhonda 4 years ago

When I was little, I hated girl toys. One year for Christmas, a relative who didn’t know me well got me a Barbie doll. It was the only one I ever had. It sat in my closet untouched my entire life.

I also believe it caused problems for me when I was in kindergarten because I only wanted to play with the boy toys, but the boys playing with them didn’t want a girl around. So friend making became difficult.

Now I’m a mom of two boys. And the older one actually wants to play with pink sparkly stuff. But he still likes crashing trucks into each other just as much!

C @ Kid Things 4 years ago

Love this. I have 2 boys and a daughter. My boys are definitely boys and my girl was beginning to take after them. Then, recently, there’s been a shift. Even though she is surrounded by boy stuff from her brothers, she’s begun gravitating towards pink and dolls. She can still knock a sucker out, though, if needed.

The Mommy Therapy 4 years ago

I love this. As the Mom of two boys and then one girl I find there to be a dramatic difference in the genders, regardless of how you treat them.

I love the cradle jail. My boys torture my daughter’s dolls and try to blow up her dollhouses during “war.”

Thanks for sharing such a fun post!

TheFeministBreeder 4 years ago

Introducing “Queen of Typos!”. (hanging head in shame.) Ignore them, please. They know not what they do.

TheFeministBreeder 4 years ago

I’m trying desperately with the gender neutrality. Being a card carrying feminist, it’s required by federal, state, and local parenting law.

Sometimes it works. Really? But a lot of the time. NOT. AT. ALL.

We were on a Discovery Health show gleaming all about our gender neutral, non-sexist children. One a good day, they make me feel like a good feminist mom. On a bad day? My kid tells me that “Only DADDIES use power tools!” Despite the fact that I came into the marriage with every power tool this family has. And guns? Yeah. My boys have been fashioning guns out of Legos since they first learned their earliest fine motor skills.

On a good day, I keep trying. On a bad day, I flipping give up.

Emily 4 years ago

I have 4 kids (and a best friend with 4 kids), and my experience is a bit different. I have 2 girly-girls, who will take two dump trucks and turn them into the mommy truck and the baby truck for playing house. I have a son who is all physical all the time. But I also have a tomboy girl, who gladly played the boy way with boy toys, and the girl way with toys. She was my first. She is just like me and my sister. (My mom thought she had done a good job being balanced with us; it turns out we were just both naturally masculine females!)

My friend has 2 girls and 2 boys. She has a girly-girl, a tomboy, a quiet boy who likes to draw and play games, and a crazy physical boy-boy.

There are 4 types, not two, and they are _all_ self-generated from the inside! I’m a tomboy, I couldn’t care less about clothes, I detest shopping. And yet I have these 2 girls who _love_ this stuff! I suspect they are more related to their father, who is one of those quiet-drawing boys… But the tomboy and the all-boy-boy are _definitely_ all mine! They even look more like me…

Jessica 4 years ago

I totally relate. As a mom of 2 boys- 5 and 3, it makes it hard to relate to my friends who have girls. I know nothing of the pink and sparkly, or alm and quiet. Great article!

albe 4 years ago

I have boy/girl twins who are almost 4 so I’ve been pretty interested in seeing how this plays out. I have noticed that nobody in our house has turned anything into a gun because they didn’t know what guns were. Then, maybe a month ago some kid at school introduced the idea of shooting people and now both my son and my daughter love to go around saying “I shoot you!” They seem about the same in that regard.

I think my daughter identifies so strongly with her brother that that’s a stronger influence than other kids. Both kids had about the same interest in dolls (pretty minimal). Both kids like to play with trucks a lot, and trains. My daughter refused to wear dresses or skirts for ages until this summer they saw a drum show in which the dancers were dressed up in fancy costumes. Ever since then, both my son *and* my daughter would want to put on a dress and then play drum show.

They definitely have different interests — my daughter likes drawing and painting more, and my son loves anything to do with a ball. But most of the gender stereotypes haven’t manifested much until the kids have started to clue in to what’s what from their friends in preschool. I think that lots of people attribute behaviors to genetic behaviors when instead kids are just mimicking what they see. If you have t.v. on in your house, like, ever, then your kids are learning tons of lessons about what girls do and what boys do. If mom takes care of the babies and dad is off at work, then it wouldn’t surprise me that girls turn everything into dolls and boys don’t.

Cynthia 4 years ago

I have two boys (5,1) and a girl (3). The baby spatula vs everything-is-a-weapon slays me. So true.

Jennifer 4 years ago

I have 2 girls only 13 months apart (5 and 6) and a little 1 year old boy and let me say, “Girls WILL be girls and Boys WILL be boys.” :)

Jen 4 years ago

This post was freaking awesome.

Nancy 4 years ago

Thank you for this post it made my day!
However, I think my son is not like most boys. He loves his cars and anything with wheels but he also loves shopping and clothes. He picks out what shirt and pants he wants to wear everyday. He likes when I do his hair and he hates being dirty. He loves looking at dresses on racks and tells me when I ‘look cute’. He has a very quiet and calm demenor says please and thank you and aspires to be a singer and dancer. He is sweet and charming and I wouldn’t change him for anything in the world!

Christine 4 years ago

OMG…that comment is the best!

Rossana 4 years ago

Simply brilliant!

workout mommy 4 years ago

I LOVE THIS!!! i have all boys (4 now!) and my friends with all girls have NO clue how insane my world is. I’m just hopeful that it will all even out when they have a bunch of hormonal teen girls and my boys will still just want to fight it out! :)

E.B. Cummings 4 years ago

I had three girls, very close together. They were Tom-boys too! Sure, there’s some pink. And some sparkles. But it’s wild pinksparkly girl madness.
So when I had I boy finally, I was like, “I can handle this. I am the parenting expert!!”
A boy will be just like the girls, except with added dangly bits.
Not so much. Wild girls are still girls. Wild BOY is very much BOY. He’s a destructive, aggressive loud hurricane of boy. Who doesn’t know what a gun IS, yet he points my tasteful wooden play food baguettes at my head while saying “Pew!pewpewpew!” He builds castles out of hand painted pink and blue blocks and then chucks the nearest doll into them while screaming, “Bad Baby! (Pew! Pewpewpew!)” and then laughing like the little terrorist dictator he is.
Sigh. It’s genetic. They’re wired differently. (I’m sure it’s not a reflection on me, I’ve never flung one of them into a stack of blocks. Yet.)

Francesca 4 years ago

Since I work, my 2 girls spend a lot of their time with their nanny, who has a boy close to my younger daughter’s age. My older daughter is extremely energetic, runs fast, loves the monkey bars, loves to dance, and is totally into all things pink, sparkly and girly. Younger daughter just likes to do whatever older daughter is doing, loves to play with balls and loves to put baby-dolls to sleep. (She will turn any stuffed animal into a baby and if she runs out of those would probably help a toy car to go night-night.)

The boy will dress up in pink clothes & tiaras if he’s at our house, but will also grab any available stick and turn it into a baseball bat. I fear for our TV. He can throw a ball HARD. (He’s 2.) He likes to push the baby carriage, but he pushes it fast and is likely to ram it into furniture or other kids. He’s definitely a boy. They’re all adorable.

What I take from the whole gender thing is that if your tough little boy likes to play with dolls sometimes, that’s great. Maybe he’ll be one of those men who wants to be a great Daddy. If your little girl loves to play with the hot wheels track in her tutu and plastic heels, that’s great. Maybe she’ll be the next Danica Patrick. I try to watch what makes the kids excited, and encourage them to play in ways that build strength and skills, and they’ll figure out their own ways in today’s more inclusive panorama of gender identity.

Jacki 4 years ago

LMAO because this is soooo true. My son could turn a doll into a weapon, and likely has. And you would think I was pulling his fingernails out when we go shopping for clothes. “Please just kill me mom so I don’t have to try on one more pair of shoes.”

Devon 4 years ago

Too funny! Love the pics.

Julie 4 years ago

Laugh out Loud funny! You make motherhood a laughable matter :)

Play 4 years ago

This was awesome. I have a boy and a girl. We do not watch TV. My boy has been extremely sheltered and exposed to all gender of toys….BUT it doesn’t matter one bit! When he plays with other boys it is crazy! They throw balls at each other, wrestle, and tackle…all while laughing and having a great time.

I planned an activity the other day with Popsicle sticks. They were launched as catapults by my boy and made into pretend babies by my daughter. (“Shh, baby spatula is sleeping.”) Loved that, it happens with everything around here.

I am not “girly” or fashionable at all. My three year old goes nuts if her outfit doesn’t match (in her mind). She adores flowers, princess, dolls, etc. Believe me this was not my influence. I also got a lecture from my five year old the other day about why he needs a toy gun. I think he had several people cracking up in the store. I myself think the nature vs nurture argument is ridiculous…

Ann 4 years ago

I think there might be something wrong with my kids =/ LOL My daughter does like her pink, frilly, pretty, sparkly things, loves wearing dresses and has a HUGE obbsession with shoes (she LOVES shoes…spent an HOUR in the shoe department at Target so she could try on EVERY SINGLE PAIR she just LOVED) But as I type this she is sitting in front of me playing with a Woody and Bullseye dolls, making them fight and chase eachother, and she will definitely fight with her brother if he is playing with a car that she INSISTS she needs to play with!!

On the other hand, there is my son, who does love his cars and airplanes and spiderman action figures. But if you place in front of him one of his cars, or one of his sisters dolls or strollers, he goes right for the dolls or strollers. As we speak he is wiping down all of my end tables to make sure they are “all clean.” Thats my boy =)

So I would have to say that both my kids have a good mixture of what they like and what they don’t like. There are times when both of them will have a complete melt down if their hands or dirty or if any little spot gets onto their clothes, BUT they are more than willing to dig in the dirt in search for bugs, and use their pudding as finger paints!!

Carri 4 years ago

I wanted a boy and that’s what I got…complete with trucks, dirt and boogers.

DALLASMOM 4 years ago

Very funny and so true! I have two boys and a girl, and they have proven to be very different! As a little toddler, my older boy turned his french fry into a car going “vroom” with sound effects across the front of his car seat. No one taught him to do that! My little daughter used to pretend to nurse her dollies and then put them to sleep. The boys never liked dolls. Instead, my sons fight and wrestle all the time, use the furniture as obstacles to jump over, and love video games, rocks, superheroes, guns, cars, LEGOs, army men, dinosaurs, monsters, lizards and insects. Almost everything my sons make out of LEGOs is a vehicle or a weapon. My younger son can make anything into a weapon and usually does. He can make a working LEGO gun that shoots tiny LEGOs. I think most boys and girls are different no matter what we do. I know I tried to raise them without harsh stereotypes, but they gravitate to certain things on their own, especially the boys. I can’t make them be civilized no matter how hard I try.

Amber 4 years ago

Okay, I had a boy first and have given up on him being nice to his little sister. But, she doesn’t like her dolls, she wants to play with any toy her brother has in his hand! Right now they are playing with a truck :)

Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama 4 years ago

This is AWESOME. I’ve been trying so hard to raise my 14 month old son as gender neutral, but he has somehow become obsessed with cars and trucks. He walks around all day saying: BRMM BRMM. Sigh…

Lisa Jordan 4 years ago

Awesome and totally true. After three rowdy boys I had a baby girl. n While she runs, climbs, and terrorizes the dog just like her brothers do, she will stop mid-terror to squeel “pree!!” (pretty) when she sees a dress or a pair of high heels. When dressing, she insists upon spinning around for all of us to admire her chosen outfit. She’s 2. Oh help me.

Meggan 4 years ago

I have 3 girls (soon to be 4) and one boy. My boy is a little fists-punching-the-air machine. For sure boys will be boys.

Cat 4 years ago

I think you are brilliantly entertaining & I love your crappy pictures. You make me laugh daily.

As a Daycare provider of 24 years and a mom of 30 years I have seen the difference between boys and girls. My boys will make a gun out of anything, I give them Legos, they make a gun. I give them puzzle pieces, they make a gun. I give them books, they make a gun. You get the point. My girls love dolls and dress up, although my 2 yo grandbaby is dinosaur obsessed.

Please never stop writing and drawing crappy pictures.

Reading (and chickens) 4 years ago

*tears from laughter* It’s funny because it’s true. “Baby spatula is sleeping!”

Meghann 4 years ago

OMG, soooo true! I have 2 boys….spot on. They turn EVERYTHING into a weapon and their play is so ‘aggressive’. Then I had a girl. She is only a year old, but I have let her ‘like’ whatever she wants. We have a lot of ‘boy toys’…yes, she loves Buzz Lightyear, but without ANY prodding from me…there she is, trying to carry a purse on her shoulder, putting clothing around her neck and cooing and patting a little dolly. I can’t believe the difference. lol

nikita 4 years ago

Your comment made me cry! <3

Lisa @Granola Catholic 4 years ago

Oh, how true, we gave my oldest tonka trucks, she was a girl. She played with them but used them for gardening. My youngest was a boy and he some how managed to at the age of about 9 months find the only cars in the house, Barbie cars and play with those, making those truck noises boys seem to instinctively know how to make.

Jube 4 years ago

Oh thank God I’m not the only one with this experience. My girlfriend has two little girls and her oldest goes into spasms of delight anytime she sees one of the Disney princesses. My son? His favorite character is Wall-E. We force them to play together so that every once in a while my son has to play with the baby dolls and her daughter gets talked into the monkey bars. Of course, my son drives the baby dolls around the house at light speed in a shopping cart. Sigh.

Jennifer 4 years ago

This is fantastic and spot on. My daughter is the oldest so my son has mostly “girl” toys to play with. Have you ever seen the littlest pet shops at war? Not pretty. And the whole “pink, sparkles and rainbows” thing? Oh yeah. Every single top she picked out for school has some form of sparkle on it. The lint catcher in my dryer will never recover.

Domesticated Gal 4 years ago

Our first is a boy. And, without any guidance on our part, he is totally, and completely in love with three things:

1. dogs
2. rocks
3. cars

A car carrying a dog with a rock in his mouth? Causes convulsions of glee. Much like when I see that gorgeous stock boy at the local shoe store, with a Snickers in his back pocket, carrying a box of equally gorgeous shoes…to the woman behind me…

Lauren 4 years ago

“Shh, baby spatula is sleeping.” so freaking funny, but something I can so see my daughter saying!

Crimsonia 4 years ago

I’ve said it for years… it’s biology… boys & girls are just different. Of course there ARE exceptions, but in general boys & girls are hard wired to be precisely what their body parts say they are!

Elaine 4 years ago

I love the spatula baby. :-)

Such a fun and TRUE post!

From Belgium 4 years ago

My daughter told me to go to work this morning because mama must earn money to buy her pink tutu skirts and a sparkly rainbow top. True story.

Cassandra 4 years ago

LMAF, yup. I have 2 girls they have trucks and legos, dolls and “mommy” supplies. They watch PBS were there isn’t much gender stereotyping at all. Yet my oldest at 6 years old loves pink and sparkles; I blame her school friends, *&^%^&. But I also know it isn’t her, she is not a girlie girl, her closest friends are almost always boys.

Of course my youngest loves sparkles and pink too, monkey see monkey do. But for her she loves bows, and clips and is more girlie and much more social.

But when the neighbor boys come over, I am shocked at how ruff they are. Even though my oldest has gotten them to play family, even if it is the Tiger version.

Evonne 4 years ago

I love this! I have a daughter and a son. It doesn’t matter what we do, boys will be boys and girls will be girls.

Sarah 4 years ago

This is great and had me laughing the whole time. I grew up with only sisters and we definitely played differently from the boys across the street. I saw those differences everyday as a classroom teacher. Boys were always standing up at their desks while working on a project and girls were sitting down. I always found it interesting. In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. Boys WILL be boys and girls will be girls.

buffy 4 years ago

As a mom of 3 boys 6,7,11 and one girl, 8, i can totally relate. Thanks for the laugh today!

cristal 4 years ago

Thanks for the laughs. I have a four year old boy and two year old girl. My girl loves to dress in her crown while playing with batman. She loves to swordfight in her dress up shoes. They both have turned her doll carriages into race cars. =)

Anjie 4 years ago

This was really funny! I have a 4 year old daughter and a 4 month old son. So far my daughter is all things girl. We’ll see what route my son goes…

Erin 4 years ago

This is hysterrical! I was laughing out loud, you are so dead on. Although in my household spatulas make great swords and lightsabers (they haven’t discovered cannons)

saltwaterjenmm 4 years ago

You know, it’s all true. They just seem to naturally have different interests.. for the most part. I have two girls and a boy. In the early years my older of the two girls was so much easier than my rough-house of a boy. However, when my second daughter came around I got a girl who loves sequins and mirrors, but also does not hesitate to jump off of the highest point in the house that she can climb onto. What happened there?! As they get on into Upper Elementary and Middle School ages, however, I will say that I would now prefer those “anything is a weapon” days with my boy over the current state of our lives – consumed by my girls’ drama, constant cheering or crying, never-ceasing chatter, and ever-increasing volume. It’s exhausting.

Megan 4 years ago

This is hilarious! Made my morning!

Becca 4 years ago

I had to laugh! And the “crappy pictures” are the best way to illustrate the day in the life of a mom…

Melissa 4 years ago

i LOVE this!

wendy @ mama one to three 4 years ago

i just think you are brilliant. I have two girls and a boy– my little boy actually loves his sisters’ pink sparkly things, but at two years old just recently developed an obsession with all things “Thomas” related. They are fascinating beings these little boys!

Skye Diaz | motherhood, etc. 4 years ago

I don’t have any boys, but my sister has two of them. They are just generally rougher around the edges. Loved the post!

Alison@Mama Wants This 4 years ago

Amber is awesome, love her crappy drawings and her funny tales. And yes, despite the political incorrectness of it all, boys WILL be boys (based on my limited experience with one boy).

Johanna 4 years ago

I too remember the days of dressing my daughter in unisex clothes and not giving my son gender specific toys…until the day he announced he was, “going to shoot me with his camera.” There’s a whole lot of nature in who our children become. The best we can do is try to nudge it in the right direction.

b harper 4 years ago

This actually made me giggle out loud. I love this post and your illustrations are delightful!