Friday, August 5, 2011

Why I think it's ok to be different

Tomorrow, my oldest is going to a birthday party for a girl in his summer camp class. That means I have to shop for a present for a girl - and I don't know a thing about shopping for a girl! It's been nagging me for the past few days, and I reminded my oldest to ask her what she wanted. He forgot.

It shouldn't be this hard to shop for a girl, because as my oldest reminded me, I'm a girl. I then let him know that I'm not a six year old girl, and I don't buy stuff that six year olds like.

During my run, I let this nag me again. And for some reason, I thought of the movie G.I. Jane. The movie explored whether a woman could (should) make it as a Navy SEAL. The question of whether a woman has the chops or the right to be a SEAL is always thought-provoking, but my thoughts moved in a more general direction.

I told myself, "Men and women are different. Is it ok to be treated differently as long as we are treated equally?"

The next thought that rolled through my head was, "All men are different from other men, and all women different from other women. We are ALL different, yet ALL should be treated equally."

Mars and Venus sharing a snuggle
















There was a time in my life when I would've cringed at the thought that men and women are different. Separate but equal didn't work. Different but equal is an idealistic dream. But I'm 15 years older and the mother of three boys and some differences between boys and girls feel inevitable and unavoidable. I am not going to go so far as to say they are predestined, but I'm a lot more open to different theories.

The glaring differences aren't just between boys and girls. If you zoom in on the microcosm of our family of three boys, you will find differences.
  • The oldest loves collecting things, labeling things, drawing with pencil.  He adores finishing enormous complex puzzles and plays independently most of the time. Mastered complex dinosaur names at a young age.
  • The middle boy loves singing and he isn't patient enough for puzzles. He wants to get married. He loves costumes and wants a bow and arrow set desperately. The only kid with an imaginary friend.
  • The youngest is still revealing his personality, but is persistent in learning new skills and reluctant to say words until he is sure he really can pronounce them. Attached to teddy bears and his pacifier longer than the older two. 
I love the unique qualities of each kid. I try to provide equal respect and they certainly don't want for love. Wouldn't it be nice if we could say the same for society in general?