Thursday, January 7, 2010

A different animal

I must confess, I tend to scoff when anyone suggests treating boys and girls the same. The fact of the matter is, they are not the same, and it's just plain silly to pretend otherwise. They are not the same physically, emotionally, mentally, or any other -ally, for Pete's sake.

Case in point: The shower.

Take one:
Frog: Mom, may I please go take a shower?
Me: Didn't you just take one last night?
Frog: Well yeah, but I kind of feel gross. Please?
Me: OK, but don't use all the the hot water, and remember to use the timer.
Frog: Yes, Mom.

30 minutes pass, during which we hear the whirring of the exhaust fan, the running of the water, and the tell-tale splooshes as the Frog rinses her hair. Eventually the Frog emerges from the sauna bathroom, accompanied by a cloud of steam to rival the great cloud which led Moses and the Israelites in the desert by day. She has neatly hung her damp towel on the bar, and trots her dirty clothing up to the hamper. The aroma of floral-y soap wafts through the household, and the Frog fairly glows for having been thoroughly scrubbed. Her hair gleams under a coating of conditioner, and all is right with the world. Of course, we'll have to wait a week for the hot water to replenish in the tank, but that's completely beside the point. The Frog is clean.

Take two:
My nose wrinkles as the Pickle passes by, living up to his briny nickname.
Me: Pickle, go take a shower.
Pickle: I just took one.
Me: When?
Pickle: Uh...............(he thinks, but can't recall.)
Me: Pickle, go take a shower.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

(Don't let the similarity fool you. In this house, the manners are required. Keep reading.)

5 minutes pass, during which we've heard the toilet flush twice, the shower drip a few times, and a little bit of singing. The Pickle emerges wearing the same clothing he wore into the bathroom. His hair is still completely dry. I can't identify any particular towel as having been used, and the fan has not been employed.

Me: What part did you wash?
Pickle: Huh? (Accompanied, of course, by the typical blank stare of a 12-year-old boy when asked a common sense question about an every-day activity having anything to do with personal hygiene.)
Me: Did you wash your hair?
Pickle: My hair? (As though he is suddenly surprised to learn what that fluffy stuff atop his head is called.)
Me: What about your pits?
Pickle: silence, and again with the confused stare....
Me: Pickle, go up to the closet and bring down with you clean underwear, clean pants, a clean shirt and a clean pair of socks.
Pickle: Yes, mom.

10 minutes pass, during which I hear dawdling footsteps, assume something shiny has attracted my boy's eye and completely distracted him, and eventually he comes back with the required articles of clothing. They are not too-badly rumpled, and since I can't smell them from 5 feet away, they must be reasonably clean. I'm not sure I can see socks in his hands, but that's just a minor detail.

Me: Pickle, go into the bathroom and turn on the hot water. Remove your clothing. Stand under the water. Get your entire body wet, including your hair. Use shampoo on your hair. Scrub your whole head. Stand under the water and rinse all of the soap from your hair. Use the bar of soap on your entire body, especially your pits, your crack, and your front. Rinse all of the soap from those places or you will itch horribly. Stand under the water for a little bit longer to make sure that all of the soap is gone. Do you have any questions?
Pickle: Nope.
Me: OK, then go take a shower.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

10 minutes pass, during which we hear the fan turned on, the water turned on, and a great deal of singing. Eventually the Pickle emerges from the soggy bathroom, which now smells just a little funky--kind of like a middle school locker room...I can tell he must have used shampoo, because there's just a little bit of foam left in his right ear. I'm pretty sure he used soap, because I think I can kind of smell the Irish Spring, though it's been reduced to more of a Norwegian Trickle. His wet towel remains in a lump on the floor, and his dirty clothes are strewn from one end of the room to the other.

Me: Grab your towel and hang it up, please.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

The towel is stuffed over the bar.

Me: Collect your dirty clothes and take them to the hamper, please.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

The clothes are snagged and he shuffles up the stairs to the laundry room.

Yes, boys and girls are a little's a waste of time to try to figure out ways to treat them as though they are the same. You can give a girl a truck, but she's still a girl. She'll wrap it up in a blanket, give it milk, read it a story, rock it to sleep and put it to bed. You can give a boy a doll, but he's a boy. He'll remove it's arms and legs, and after he's done shooting dinosaurs with them, he'll set them up at one end of the room, bowl them over with the head, and boogie when he gets a strike. Then he'll toss the torso around like a football, and pump his little fist in the air when he manages to catch it.

I love seeing the differences between my sons and my daughters. I thank God for their uniqueness, for the many blessings they bring to our family, and for the gifts and challenges that raising boys and girls has brought to me as their mother.