Boys Are Dumb

Boo and I went to check out a new playgroup today. Boo immediately hit it off with two of the girls and they struck up a game of (not kidding) “running errands,” caroming around on tricycles they could barely control.

“We have to go to the market to pick up some pears and bananas,” said Boo.

“Okay. I’ve got my money right here in this pocket,” responded S–.

One boy from the group was watching this exchange and forced out the syllables ‘nah-nah’, which I took to mean “banana.” He then lost interest and raced off to kick sand or something.

“So,” I asked the organizer later, “Some of the kids are a little younger? Like, maybe not quite two?” I was quickly corrected: they ranged from 30 to 35 months, all of them. No frikkin’ way, I thought. (I curse a lot inside my head.) I took another look.

The boys were all engaged in feats of strength and derring-do: competently climbing upside down under the slide and dragging small tree trunks into construction projects. The girls were talking, turning any enclosed spaces into houses and shops, and comparing the dolls most had brought. And while the girls could hardly pedal the trikes the boys had all mastered it.

When did that happen? I’m pretty physical with Boo and she dangles upside down joyfully, but we also talk a lot. She gets praise for catching and climbing, but also (and maybe more) for using the word “edible” correctly. Have we forced her to be loquacious? Or does her conversational play flow from her personality? Or — alas, how I hate determinism! — is it just ’cause she’s a girl?

Never one to let nature take its course, whenever I’m able to subtly modify Boo’s play choices, I encourage coordination and strength. So when I briefly had her attention today I got her feet on the trike pedals and tried to show her how they work.

It didn’t last. Within a minute, Boo and S– had rescued a pretend sea star with a boo-boo and ran off playing “veterinarian” (and correctly pronouncing it, too) leaving me way behind — my accustomed spot.

I was disappointed, but not very. The learning can wait: there’s real joy in just doing what you’re good at.