I have been married for almost 15 years, making me an expert on all the differences between boys and girls (at least in my family). I couldn’t find the direction west if my life depended on it, and he can’t find the mayonnaise in the refrigerator. I’m really great at being right a lot, and unfortunately, so is he. I don’t know anything about the inner workings of a car and I don’t care, and he doesn’t know anything about sports unless it’s some random fact about the Tour de France from 1985. It’s a balance.
The two of us have a boy and a girl. They are both watching us and learning and hopefully forgetting about all of our crappy parenting moments but remembering all of those times that we take them to stuff we don’t want to go to. While we try not to parent them differently, there are definitely things that we focus on for each of them as they follow in our very imperfect footsteps.
We will try to teach HIM…
To respect toilet seats.
To be whoever he is, even if other people and societal norms don’t approve.
To look at who his audience is when telling inappropriate jokes (we’re actively working on this one).
How to wash (and fold!) clothes.
To get enough dessert for two even if his partner says they don’t want any because they will probably change their mind.
To not be the douchebag alpha male who needs to have the last word on everything.
To find stuff. Any and all stuff, even if it is not in his direct line of sight.
That he must ask and receive permission to touch someone else’s body.
How to make other people feel good about themselves.
How to talk to people he doesn’t know on the phone.
To open doors (for everyone).
To compliment his partner’s butt — often.
To search for beauty in people, even when it’s not obvious.
To give more than he gets.
How to make friends.
To fall in love so hard that he has a hard time getting back up again.
We will try to make sure that SHE knows…
How to place a well-timed kick to the balls.
How to change a flat tire.
The best way to ask someone she likes out on a date.
How to keep friends.
How to get hers (you know what I mean).
To search for the beauty in herself, even when it’s not obvious.
To compliment her partner’s butt — often.
That it’s fun to travel alone, eat alone, go to the movies alone.
To never say sorry for merely existing as a woman.
To listen more than she talks (we’re actively working on this one).
To trust her instincts.
How to be heard (I’m not super worried about this one so far).
That she must give permission for someone else to touch her body.
That it’s easier to just eat more vegetables than to be on a diet for your whole life.
To be whoever she is, especially if people and societal norms don’t approve.
To fall in love so hard that she has a hard time getting back up again.
Obviously, we will teach them both all of these things, and I understand if our life looks different from others. I do wish that there were some things we didn’t have to teach our children. I wish that I could teach my daughter that someday she could walk home in the dark and not be afraid. But I can’t. I wish that we didn’t have to teach our boys that they need to ask to touch someone’s body, that it would just be obvious. But I guess it’s not. So we will continue to teach them these skills, and hopefully the world will catch up.